Hammersmith and Fulham Council has announced a drastic change to legislation in their borough in an attempt to solve social housing tenancy term problems.
From 2013, the Council plans to bring in fixed-term tenancies for those wishing to live in social housing. As part of their proposals, Hammersmith and Fulham Council plan to cut tenancy periods to five years, dropping to just two years for 18-25 year olds.
Also included in the proposals are plans to introduce a household income cap of £40,200. This is designed to deter more people from registering for social housing, with the waiting list already standing at 10,300 people.
The new measures are due to be considered at a council meeting later this month. Hammersmith and Fulham Council has put forward the plans on the back of the Localism Act 2011, which gave local councils more authority to give flexible tenancy guidelines.
This led Barnet Council to introduce fixed-term tenancies with a household cap of £36,200 for families with children, decreasing to £30,800 for those without.
Trim waiting lists
Hammersmith and Fulham have moved quickly to say that the new changes will not affect existing tenants. In addition, vulnerable tenants will still have the option of a more secure tenancy, with local workers and the armed forces also receiving priority.
The Council believes that the income cap on social properties will cut the waiting list, which currently amounts to around a 36-year wait. Councillor Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: “We believe that the notion of a tenancy for life is outdated and that it’s wrong to expect to inherit a welfare benefit in the form of a subsided house irrespective of housing need.”
However, housing charity Shelter is strongly opposed to the introduction of income caps, stating that many families will end up “locked out of a decent place to live.”
Kay Boycott, Director of Communications at the organisation, said that their research this year, “found that renting a two-bedroom home in Hammersmith and Fulham is unaffordable for families earning less than £74,100.”
She continued: “An income cap for social housing around the £40,000 mark could therefore see a huge swathe of the population locked out of a decent place to live, too well off to access social housing but not affluent enough to find an affordable place to rent privately.”
In a different move, Sutton Council has recently released its Tenancy Strategy, which pledges its support to open-ended tenancies. Council leader Ruth Dombey, believes: “It is very dangerous to create transient neighbourhoods where few people have any real stake in the community.”
She went on to say: “I’m not embarrassed to say that we looked to the past for inspiration.”