Council to offer tenants incentives and help to free up larger homes

Friday, 18 October, 2013

Harlow Council is to offer incentives to support Council tenants wishing to downsize which will help to free up larger homes for families in need.

The Council is working to ease the current housing crisis by offering practical and financial support to existing Council tenants wishing to move to a smaller Council home.

It is hoped that the incentives scheme agreed by Cabinet last night (17 October 2013) will help to free up some of the 3,000 three-bedroom and 380 four or more bedroomed Council homes in the town.

Under recent changes to the way the Council allocates housing existing Council tenants in Harlow wishing to downsize are now given higher priority when bidding for homes. It is estimated that around a quarter of applicants on the Housing Needs Register* are prioritised as high or in an urgent need to move with nearly half requiring a home with three or more bedrooms.

Financial incentives will be offered on a sliding scale dependent on the number of bedrooms released. Tenants will have to meet qualifying conditions and the incentives will be as follows:

  • £1,000 for one bedroom
  • £1,500 for two bedrooms
  • £2,000 for three bedrooms
  • £2,500 for four bedrooms

An additional £1,000 will be paid if a tenant moves from a house or bungalow to a flat or maisonette and all tenants will receive money to cover removal costs. Council officers will also provide advice and support where needed on redirecting mail, notifying utility companies, planning for a smaller home, house clearances and removals.

Councillor Rod Truan, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “This scheme is voluntary and no tenants will be forced to downsize.

“With the current social housing shortage in Harlow there is a lack a larger Council homes which become available. There are some tenants who might find their current home is too big for their needs or they want to reduce their housing costs but they require help and support to move to smaller accommodation.

“Our scheme will support residents to voluntarily move into smaller Council accommodation, and in the process frees up valuable larger housing for families.”

“Each case will be considered on its own merits in terms of the financial and practical support that the Council will offer as moving home is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life.”

Notes to editors:

Following changes at the end of September 2013 to the way the Council allocates its housing a review of the Housing Needs Register is currently taking place. Before the changes there were around 5,500 people on the Housing Register.