Council ends lifetime tenancies for social homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Housing
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A London council has ended lifetime tenancies for new social housing applicants.
Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is also about to change its rules and give people who have a connection to the area priority on its housing list.
H&F is the first council in the country to bring in such changes simultaneously.
The government is currently calling on councils across the country to adopt similar local connection rules.
H&F will additionally be prioritising those making a significant contribution to the community, such as ex-service personnel and foster carers.
And households earning above £40,200 will be prevented from accessing the housing register under the new regime, and instead directed towards low-cost home-ownership options.
From now on, H&F will only issue fixed-term tenancies of five years, reduced to two years in certain cases.
Under the previous system, tenants had the right to stay in their council home for life - unless the agreement was terminated due to a breach of contract.
The old rules also meant that in the event of a tenant dying, the right of succession passed onto a family member.
H&F believes the old system was "antiquated and unfair" as it did not "promote aspiration or provide tenants with any incentive to try to move into home-ownership", and also "failed to take into account the fact that a household's need for social housing may be temporary".
Existing tenants will be unaffected by the change in policy.
New tenancies in sheltered accommodation and for those with special housing or health needs will remain on a lifetime basis.
Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing said: "Today we are leading the way in ushering in a new era for social housing. We believe that the notion of a tenancy for life is out-dated and that it is wrong to expect to inherit a welfare benefit in the form of a heavily subsidised house irrespective of housing need.
"We also think that it is patently unfair that people can move to this borough from other parts on the country or even further afield and access social housing ahead of hard-working local residents who have been living here for many years.
"That is why From April, we will also be giving, local people on low to middle incomes, who make a positive contribution to their local communities, a better chance to access social housing.
"The old, antiquated system has created disadvantaged communities by producing concentrations of people on benefits with disproportionately high levels of unemployment and sometimes social breakdown.
"In its place, we want to create neighbourhoods where a broad mix of social households all live side-by-side."