Cabinet: York works towards better housing future with new strategy

28 Dec 2012 @ 4.00 pm
| News

Issued by City of York Council

A plan to improve York’s most vulnerable residents access to decent, safe and affordable homes through the effective management of social and affordable rented homes is being considered by Cabinet and, if approved, will be put into action by the end of January 2013.

At a meeting on the 8 January Members will be asked to agree the implementation of the Tenancy Strategy, formed following in-depth consultation with residents, tenants, housing associations, private sector landlords and those currently waiting on the city’s housing register.

The strategy highlights key issues such as overcrowding, under occupation, empty properties, homelessness and the increasing housing demand across York. It offers guidelines for housing providers to ensure the best use of the city’s current housing stock and to support the creation of an appropriate level and type of housing for the city’s needs, over the next five years.

The guidelines proposed highlight the need for greater mobility within the social rented sector and limited use of tools such as fixed-term tenancies to help reduce future under-occupation and the efficient allocation of appropriate housing. The council’s priority of building strong communities remains central to the strategy, with fixed-term tenancy proposals being set at a minimum of five years and at least six months notice to be given for any review of tenancy, alongside the provision of support for tenants to find alternative arrangements.

The strategy builds on those freedoms afforded by the Localism Act – for the council to determine how its housing stock should be allocated – ensuring priority is given to those most in need, care leavers and foster carers, and utilising the council’s ability to place homeless households into private rented accommodation.

The strategy reiterates the council’s stance on affordable rents in limiting affordable rent levels to 55 and 60 per cent; adhering to the national affordable housing funding policy, whilst ensuring that low income households in York can afford rents without the need for housing benefit support.

Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing said: “We know that our residents already report high levels of satisfaction with their homes and neighbourhoods, but there is more to be done to ensure that all of our residents have access to decent, safe and affordable homes.

“As one of the fastest growing cities in the country and with a relatively buoyant economy, good schools and low crime rates, the demand for housing in York will continue to increase. House price rises, a down turn in the housing market and national welfare reforms are adding to the challenges faced by the city’s housing market and those low income households ability to gain access to housing or to continue to afford the home they are in. This Tenancy Strategy will play a central role in ensuring a city-wide partnership approach to creating a balanced housing market that offers choice and opportunity to everyone in York.”

The adoption of a tenancy strategy by the end of January 2013 is a legal requirement for City of York Council under the Localism Act 2011 and must be adhered to by all housing providers in the City of York.

The strategy will be reviewed by the council on an annual basis, by the housing provider steering group, to ensure it continues to meet the city’s needs and that of its most vulnerable residents. It builds on the council’s work with private landlords, such as the North Yorkshire YorHome programme – giving people in housing need an alternative supported route into private rented homes – and Homeswapper, alongside the wider package of support the council is currently developing for those who wish to downsize, to help balance supply and demand for housing in York.

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