Leeds residents to have their say on future lettings policy
Leeds City Council’s lettings policy is due to be revised to deal with the impact of Welfare Reform and tenants and members of the public are being asked for their thoughts to the changes.
At a meeting of the council’s executive board on Wednesday 12 December, members will be asked to consider proposed changes to the council’s letting policy in light of the Localism Bill and Welfare Reform and to approve the start of a public consultation.
As part of the welfare reforms, the government is introducing Social Sector Size Criteria, which will see working age housing association and council tenants who are seen to be under occupying by one bedroom or more receive a shortfall in their housing benefit – equivalent to 14% of their eligible rent.
An estimated 7,000 Leeds council tenants will be affected by these changes, along with a further 1,300 housing association tenants. The Leeds ALMOs already have put in place a programme to visit all affected council tenants and have so far visited just over 65% of people with the majority of people expressing a preference to stay in their existing homes. The revised lettings policy will seek new ways to help affected tenants to remain in their current home where possible or support them to move to a smaller property.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“We want to ensure that all our tenants, voluntary sector housing organisations and the voluntary sector get the chance to have their say on how they think the lettings policy should look.
“There are a number of key points to consider in light of Welfare Reforms, and our priority remains our residents who we want to work with closely to ensure as little disruption as possible.
“The biggest challenge we face is the shortage of available homes for affected tenants to move to. Over 4800 tenants affected by welfare reform have a need for one bedroom accommodation, and therefore it could take over three years for us to re-house all tenants affected seen to be under occupying.”
For more information you can view the report going to executive board on www.leeds.gov.uk
Notes to editors:
The council will look to maximise transfers of housing to address under occupancy through the ‘mutual exchange’ process whereby properties are swapped by a tenant who is in overcrowded and the other who is under occupying – which offers a quick and easy way to resolve the problem.
Other changes to the policy include the possibility of extending the period a priority is awarded for from 120 to 180 days, the introduction of a qualification criteria which will assist in streamlining the housing register and to put a focus on customers who are in housing need and without sufficient resources to make their own arrangements.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450