COUNCIL WILL BE ABLE TO MOVE EVERY NEW TENANT AFTER FIVE YEARS
Last week Tamworth Herald (4th October) reported Tamworth Borough Council’s announcement of the end to security of tenure for Tamworth council house tenants. Of course, this exact phrase was not used; an end to ‘lifetime tenures’ is how it was described. Security of tenure was introduced because unscrupulous councils in the 1970’s were threatening tenant’s rights campaigners with summary eviction. This will remove that security from anybody who has a complaint against and is housed by the council. And this is one of many reasons why this new ‘fixed term’ tenancy should be opposed.
Other reasons include families constantly being moved around as their structure changes; the knock on effect of these moves are loss of social cohesion and support networks, essential for neighbourhoods to develop a sense of self worth, essential if we want tenants to take pride in their homes and surroundings; the upheaval is detrimental to children’s health and education. We all know a stable home life is needed to raise children, and changing schools is one of the biggest fears a young child experiences in life.
It will do very little to reduce the waiting list; this is another aspect of the ‘under occupier’ agenda and the council, as do the government know full well that there is not enough alternative accommodation; if there was, we wouldn’t need these new ‘flexible tenancies’, right?. There is no mention of where these tenants will be moved to, and I am concerned that this fixed tenancy agenda will remove that obligation on the council. The councils own ‘Enc. 1 for Cabinet Report for Options for Flexible Tenure for Council Homes’, 12th September states “The property is suitable for the remaining occupant/s within the terms of the Council’s Allocation Policy and it is likely that the Council would have a duty to rehouse the occupant/s left in the property”. Note it says ‘it is likely’; this suggests that while this is a draft document, and this is in connection with joint to sole tenancies, there is already an agenda to consider whether ending fixed term tenancies should leave the council with an obligation to re-house. As I said, this is a draft document and is a policy document; this means it will be council policy, and not a legal obligation, so do not allow fears to be allayed with statements of ‘we do not intend…’ or ‘we do not envisage…’ when reference to re-housing flexible tenants is addressed.
The right to appeal if a tenancy is not renewed is a very short statement; appeal to whom? And will the tenancy continue- can the tenancy legally continue during an appeal process; what obligation is there for the council to address appeals in a timely manner?
The statement that ‘flexible tenants’ will have broadly the same rights as current tenants is grossly misleading; this type of tenancy with housing associations was one of the main reasons the council stock transfer was rejected by Tamworth council tenants and I take the view this is a back-door approach to making the transfer a reality.
I can understand why secure tenancies will be in place for properties designated for older people (‘older people’? is that pensioners; anybody over 40; what is the ‘older people’ criteria?); an attack such as this on pensioners would be a catastrophic faux pas for a ‘caring’ government- or council and only serves to strengthen my case that it IS an attack on the poor; they are much easier to demonise than pensioners! But why secure tenancies on one-bedroomed homes? Aren’t these the very homes the council and government want to free up so that under-occupiers can be moved to ‘more suitable’ accommodation? Or do they really want the revenue from the hated ‘Bedroom Tax’?
To say this is a sensible and logical approach to take is frankly neither a sensible nor logical statement. The sensible and logical approach would be to build council homes, creating the necessary movement of tenants from unsuitable housing naturally and with the consent of tenants; this would have the knock on effect of reducing unemployment and putting cash in the hands of those most likely to spend it, rather than hoard it in off-shore accounts and thus be an added boost to a stagnant economy.
The big questions are really, “do you trust your council”; will this be good for council tenants? If you answer no to one of those questions, even if you have or are purchasing your home, one of life’s catastrophes, severe illness, accident or redundancy could see you subject to this new and draconian legislation. Even if not affected directly, you children or grandchildren, who in all likelihood will not be able to afford a mortgage will be affected by it.
It is another attack on the poor and most vulnerable in our society. It is another dismal episode in the current administration’s, national and local, agenda to take us back 100 years to the days of an elite ruling class and a subservient electorate.
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