Council to Introduce Income Cap for Housing

Fixed term tenancies to end 'council houses for life'

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Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is to be the first local authority in the country to simultaneously introduce fixed term social housing tenancies and a maximum income cap for people wishing to access the housing register.

The new rules which will stop households earning more than £40,000 per annum joining the housing register and give priority to the members of the armed forces and those who make a 'community contribution' including foster parents for social housing lettings come into affect in April 2012.

The borough has the fourth highest property prices in the UK and one of the highest proportions of social housing in London as a proportion of total housing, with around 34 per cent social rented.

The new measures are due to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet on Monday, October 15th. Existing tenants will be unaffected by the new proposals.

They will introduce an end to the notion of a council house for life by introducing five year fixed-term tenancies, with two years for those aged 18-25. Secure tenancies will still be available for the most vulnerable residents. Children of tenants will be prohibited from inheriting their council property.

Cllr Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing said: “We are leading the way in ushering in a new era for social housing in this country. We are saying that the current system, whereby anyone can apply for a council home irrespective of housing need, has failed. We believe that the notion of a tenancy for life is outdated and that it’s wrong to expect to inherit a welfare benefit in the form of a subsidised house irrespective of housing need.”

“Instead, we want to give honest, hard-working, local residents on low to middle incomes, who make a positive contribution to their local communities, the opportunity to access social housing."

Housing Minister Mark Prisk said: “"Hammersmith & Fulham are taking firm action to ensure that their homes are reserved for those who genuinely need and deserve them the most. They are using their new local powers to cut waiting lists, and giving greater priority to the Armed Forces, local residents and foster carers. By doing this they are making the most of our common sense reforms to make the social housing system fairer and more responsive."

The council will also only consider granting tenancies for those with a five-year local connection to the borough who are in clear housing need. Those who do not qualify will still be given a package of advice and assistance about their housing options.

Those households earning above £40,200 will generally not be eligible to access the housing register. Instead, they will be offered advice on other housing options including joining the Council’s HomeBuy Register.

Currently anyone can today apply to go onto the register, which currently stands at 10,300 people. Resources are so stretched that last year only 470 new lettings were made. The year before, a total of 131,000 bids were received for social housing and on average each three bedroom property attracted 157 bids.

October 5, 2012