Tenants could get carrot to move out

INCENTIVES could be given to people to quit larger council houses.

Falkirk Council says it is considering the move as part of a range of measures to deal with the thousands waiting for a local authority house.

At the end of January, there were 8815 applicants on the council house list, a 20 per cent increase on the end of June 2010.

This includes over 4000 people who are classed as home starters, looking for a home, and over 1400 deemed as homeless.

But council officials say they have had success with a new allocations policy and are planning to do more, including giving greater priority to applicants who have three or more children sharing one bedroom.

Councillors at Tuesday’s housing and social care committee heard that the housing department had been using a choice-based letting system for the past 12 months.

It has involved applicants bidding for advertised properties and since it began Homespot has had over 75,000 bids, representing an average of 60 people bidding for just one property.

However, Jennifer Litts, the council’s head of housing service, said that 1243 properties had been let across the area during 2010, a higher number than when the old direct-matching scheme was in operation.

She said: “The majority of properties let, 694 of them, were tenement or maisonette flats and 60 per cent had two bedrooms.

“The area with the highest number of lets was Falkirk West with almost a quarter of properties let there, with the lowest number in Larbert and Stenhousemuir at eight per cent.”

Councillors heard that the fact that demand was outstripping supply remained a major challenge for the council. But there are plans to try to make better use of the council’s housing stock in the pipeline.

Councillors heard that over 2700 tenants were living in properties classed as under-occupied, meaning that either one person or a couple were living in a house with three or more bedrooms.

Now the council is considering offering incentives, such as rent free period, a decoration allowance or help with removals. to encourage those tenants to move to a smaller house.

Consultation will also take place to target houses that are overcrowded.

The council wants to give greater priority for housing in larger properties to families with three or more children sharing a bedroom, with the greater priority band taking effect from the birth of the third child.

Councillors also agreed that an Allocations Consultation Panel should be set up.