The Executive Board of Leeds City Council is considering a new Council Lettings Policy at its meeting today.
The Lettings Policy clearly has implications not only for the thousands of applicants on the Council’s waiting list but also for those living next or near to Council housing and to communities where there are substantial numbers of Council properties.
The most significant proposed change is to:
“update the existing provisions for excluding housing applicants from the allocation of council housing on the grounds of ‘poor behaviour’. Examples of such behaviour could include accumulation of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, criminal activity and damage to property. A key consideration will be whether the applicant has made significant steps to modify their behaviour.”
Since January 2011, up to 25% of available council homes should be let, not to the applicant with the highest priority award for re-housing, but to the applicant who has had a housing application registered for the longest period of time. It is proposed to maintain this percentage but to amend the Local Connection criteria for properties let through this mechanism (the ‘Date of Registration Quota’) so that this is based on the Council Ward rather than local housing office area.
There is little doubt that in areas where there has been high turnover of council properties that anti-social behaviour has increased. This causes areas to become rundown with more people leaving the area (if they can) with properties becoming more difficult to let and applicants who might be more likely to contribute to their neighbourhood being unwilling to accept tenancies in such areas.
The real challenge is not just to restrict access to council housing to those who have behaved badly but to manage tenancies effectively to reduce anti-social behaviour and evict persistent offenders.