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‘A council home for life is a thing of the past’
COUNCIL house tenants could be moved out of their family homes as part of new plans.
Basildon Council is looking to adopt Government plans to do away with the current council house for life policy, by introducing 12-month, two-year and flexible tenancies.
The council is also planning to prioritise providing homes to working families and says it will kick out bad tenants, who are making their neighbours lives a misery.
Housing chiefs hope to have the powers in place by the end of the year as they look to cut down the 5,000-strong council house waiting list.
Phil Turner, councillor with responsibility for housing and deputy leader of Basildon’s Conservative administration, said the new approach would make the system much fairer.
He said: “I am really in favour of this scheme, because it will make it fairer for everyone.
“If you are in a home which is too large or too small the council will have the power to move on people to a more suitable property.
“This will end the house for life scheme and it will probably not be liked at first, because, ultimately, people don’t like change.
“If people don’t behave we will have the power to move them on and they will be on their own from there.
“We have 5,000 people on our council house waiting list, that is a lot of people to try and house.”
Grant Shapps, the Government minister for housing, brought forward the scheme under the new Localism Act, which all local authorities are currently considering.
Byron Taylor, deputy leader of the Labour group, is concerned about the financial cost of the new plans.
He said: “We have concerns over how much it will cost and how the council is going to find the resources to carry out these checks, year by year.
“The changes are also going to have an impact on the community, because short-term tenancies don’t promote community sustainability and make people’s lives uncertain. People are often at their most vulnerable in their first year of tenancy, so to expect them to be perfect tenants is a lot to ask.”
All new tenants will be put on a 12-month introductory tenancy and will have to prove they can integrate into a community, take care of their home and behave themselves.
Landlords could get properties back if the tenant breaches any contractual conditions. Fixed-term tenancies of five years, with the possibility of renewal, could also be brought in.
Vulnerable tenants and those aged over 55 whose housing requirements are not likely to change could be offered a secure or lifetime tenancy, depending on the case.
A new housing working group to discuss the proposals is meeting on Tuesday, September 11 from 7.30pm at Basildon Council’s offices, in St Martin’s Square.