THURROCK Council took the next step in creating a strategic tenants policy when its cabinet met on Wednesday (12 December) evening.
The overall policy reflects the council’s principles for all social housing in the borough and is the first step in reflecting changes introduced by the Localism Act.
The policy also impacts on the council’s own tenancy policy – the rules and regulations governing people living in council-owned homes – and this document will come back to cabinet in March.
Portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Val Morris-Cook, said on Wednesday, that the overarching strategic policy will “make sure all Social Landlords should grant tenancies which are compatible with the purpose of the housing, the needs of individual households, the sustainability of the community and the efficient use of their housing stock”.
Speaking after the meeting, she added: “The council’s own tenancy policy will be more specific, with things like probation term for new tenants and incentives for downsizing when our tenants are living in homes too large for their needs.
“We are not going to have fixed-term tenancies for our social housing, but we are also not suggesting fixed-term tenancies should not be used in any circumstances – the strategic tenancy agreement allows them for our partner organisations in some circumstances.”
Cllr Morris-Cook added: “However the council’s Housing Strategy and Housing Revenue Account Business Plan already outlines two key objectives for our housing service in the future – to meet all acute statutory housing need, and to contribute to and support sustainable communities in Thurrock.
“I am concerned the adoption of fixed-term tenancies would foster feelings of insecurity for those people affected and would do nothing to support the council’s aim of creating sustainable communities.
“It would also lead to much-increased administration and that, of course would mean extra costs for all tenants.”
She said: “The introduction of probationary tenancies will help us deal more effectively with anti-social behaviour and the scheme also allows us to run an incentive scheme to encourage tenants to downsize to smaller homes, releasing under-occupied properties for larger households.
“This will include financial incentives, a relaxation on bedrooms policy and real practical help for those who want it.”