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Agenda item

Amendments to the Housing Allocations Policy

Report of the Strategic Director of Adult Care and Housing

 

Cabinet Member:     Councillor Beck

Commissioner:         Myers (in advisory role)

 

Recommendations:

 

That the changes to the Allocation Policy be approved to commence on 1 May 2017 as follows:

 

1.    Mandatory requirement for applicants who have no experience of running their own home, or where a previous tenancy has failed, to attend a pre-tenancy workshop.

 

2.    Mandatory requirement for all applicants to undertake a housing options interview before joining the housing register. 

 

3.    New tenants should not be allowed to apply to transfer within the first twelve months of their tenancy. However, it is recommended that Housing Assessment Panel have delegated powers to overrule this policy for individual cases where there are exceptional circumstances.

 

4.    No rent allowances are issued to new tenants or existing Council tenants. However the Housing Options Manager, and the Housing Advice and Assessment Manager have delegated powers to overrule this policy for vulnerable applicants where there is a justification for more time to move into a property.

 

5.    Bedsits are let to single people or couples giving preference to single people under the age of 35.

 

6.    Include homeless applicants owed a reasonable preference to the list of applicants who are exempt from the Local Connection Criteria rules.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report which detailed the proposed amendments to the Housing Allocations Policy, following a period of review and consultation, and which would come into force from 1st May, 2017.

 

Six amendments were recommended which aimed to increase tenancy sustainability, take into account lessons learned over the past twelve months, changes brought about by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, give priority to under thirty-five year olds and to prepare for the Homelessness Reduction Bill.

 

At the same time six amendments are recommended which aim to increase tenancy sustainability, take into account lessons learned over the past twelve months, changes brought about by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 and to prepare for the Homelessness Reduction Bill:-

 

a.          Introduction of a programme of pre-tenancy workshops and support for all prospective new tenants that either have no prior experience of managing a tenancy, or have previously had a failed tenancy. This should significantly improve tenancy sustainment levels particularly for vulnerable young people.

 

b.          Introduction of pre-housing register housing options interviews which will give new customers an opportunity to learn about Rotherham Council homes and other affordable housing options. It also helps us to understand the needs of our customers, giving tenancies the best possible start

 

c.           Stop tenants from applying to transfer within the first twelve months of their tenancy. The current transfer policy will be amended from 2 years waiting to 1 year. This will give some flexibility of movement for Social Housing tenants and prevent tenants from moving to low demand properties via band 4.

 

d.          Since the current Allocations Policy was implemented in August 2015 there has been an increase in the number of tenants requesting a housing transfer in Band 4 within the first two years of their tenancy. It is therefore proposed to place restrictions on tenants transferring within the first year of their tenancy.

 

e.          Setting rent allowances at a consistent level for existing tenants and new tenants, by either issuing a rent allowance of up to a maximum of five working days or stopping the use of rent allowances for new lettings and transfers.  Currently, existing tenants who transfer to another home within the Council’s stock are allocated an allowance of a minimum of 14 days, whereas new tenants are allocated an allowance of a maximum of five working days.  

 

f.            Giving preference in the Allocation Policy to single people under the age of 35 for bedsits. This will help single applicants under the age of 35, who will be affected by the introduction of the Local Housing Allowance single room rate in April 2018, to access affordable accommodation. 

 

g.          Setting housing register qualification criteria that does not disqualify homeless households that are owed a reasonable preference from joining the housing register. In short, if the local authority decides that a person is owed a reasonable preference under homelessness legislation, the residency local connection criteria should allow the applicant to join the register.           

 

Resolved:-  That the changes to the Allocation Policy be approved to commence on 1st May, 2017 as follows:-

 

1.          Mandatory requirement for applicants who have no experience of running their own home, or where a previous tenancy has failed, to attend a pre-tenancy workshop.

 

2.          Mandatory requirement for all applicants to undertake a housing options interview before joining the housing register. 

 

3.          New tenants should not be allowed to apply to transfer within the first twelve months of their tenancy. However, it is recommended that Housing Assessment Panel have delegated powers to overrule this policy for individual cases where there are exceptional circumstances.

 

4.          No rent allowances are issued to new tenants or existing Council tenants. However the Housing Options Manager, and the Housing Advice and Assessment Manager have delegated powers to overrule this policy for vulnerable applicants where there is a justification for more time to move into a property.

 

5.          Bedsits are let to single people or couples giving preference to single people under the age of 35.

 

6.          Include homeless applicants owed a reasonable preference to the list of applicants who are exempt from the Local Connection Criteria rules.

Supporting documents: