Housing minister: social landlords should help tenants to move
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing, Local Government
Social landlords should do more to help tenants who want to move home, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has claimed.
The minister said that enabling tenants to switch homes - known as mutual exchange - would boost social mobility and ensure social housing is used more effectively.
Speaking yesterday at a roundtable event with landlords and the Employment Minister Esther McVey, Hopkins said tenants might want to move homes for a variety of reasons: whether to boost their chances of getting a job, to downsize or live nearer their family.
Ministers have now revealed a guide to help landlords facilitate home swaps, which draws on lessons from 12 councils who were funded by the government to test new and cost-effective ways of supporting mobility among social tenants.
Hopkins claimed that councils across the country have already demonstrated simple steps can be taken to help social tenants move.
• Salford City Council raised awareness of mutual exchange to see if it would lead to more moves taking place. As result, there was a 300% increase on the number of tenants seeking an exchange; and the number of moves increased from 47 in 2010/11 to 110 in 2012/13.
• The London Borough of Islington has introduced Smartmove, which helps to match tenants who under-occupy with people living in overcrowded homes, in conjunction with Chain Letting, which facilitates the swaps between under-occupiers with families living in overcrowded homes.
• Derby City Mutual Exchange Service – 10 social landlords working in the city have shared information about tenants who want to swap their homes, and are facilitating exchanges between different landlords.
• Stockport Homes ran a series of events with local housing associations, called Big Exchange, aimed at supporting tenants already signed up to the mutual exchange register as well as those who had requested a transfer to a different home.
Hopkins said: “Social tenants who want to move home have the same reasons as everyone else: whether to start a new job, get more space for their family or downsize to pay less rent. But for too long they have suffered from a lack of choice, often becoming trapped in homes that do not meet their needs. This is unfair. It harms social mobility and is an inefficient way of managing our social housing stock.
“The government has made it easier for tenants to view available properties online, and landlords across the country are already demonstrating that more can be done to help tenants swap homes. I now want all social landlords to follow their best practice, and ensure tenants who want to move have the opportunity to do so.”
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