Glendine Shepherd explained that the Council had last amended its Scheme of Allocation in November 2015. Officers had reviewed the operation of the scheme and feedback from residents and Councillors and had proposed a number of possible changes.
Gerry Crowley explained that the principal changes proposed were:
Bedroom Standard – To include an 18-21 year old member of a household when calculating the number of bedrooms required by existing Council tenants.
Local Residency Qualification (Existing Tenants) – To exempt those currently with a Council tenancy from the five year local residency qualification.
Local Residency Qualification (Joint Applicants) – Where a joint application is made, to require only one member of the household to meet the five year local residency qualification.
Under-Occupation/Downsizing – To give a preference to a household which is seeking to downsize even if the household is seeking to downsize to a property up to 1 bedroom larger than their assessed need.
Service Tenancies – To clarify the existing wording.
Disability – To add details of the existing assessment process to make this clearer.
Councillor Phibbs said that he felt the proposed change to the policy on under-occupation was a good idea. Anthony Wood noted that there was a financial incentive for those who wished to downsize and asked whether this was having the desired effect. Gerry Crowley said that there were 200 people looking to downsize. There were however insufficient properties for residents to downsize into, especially as those looking to move were often also more demanding about where they would move; giving downsizing residents greater priority and the ability to keep an extra bedroom would help to resolve this and release some of the Council’s larger properties.
Councillor Phibbs asked whether the proposed change to bedroom standards would increase demand on larger properties. Gerry Crowley said that there would be an increase in demand for larger properties but that, if limited to existing Council tenants, this was a manageable increase. A resident said that the Council could consider whether the young person could afford to live alone in the borough before including them in the assessment of the number of bedrooms needed.
Councillor Johnson asked whether the potential for fraudulent applications would increase if only one of the people making a joint application needed to meet the residency criteria. Glendine Shepherd explained that officers would check that the relationship was bona fide as part of the assessment process. Councillor Johnson said that he felt it might be easier for officers to manage if this situation was managed through director’s discretion.
Schemes for allowing leaseholders to downsize to a Council property and for giving tenants support to buy a property in parts of the country with lower housing costs were discussed and Councillor Homan confirmed that officers were already looking at these ideas.
Councillor Connell asked, with reference to the proposed exemption to the local residency qualification, how Council tenants might have been allocated a property in Hammersmith and Fulham if they did not meet the current criteria. Gerry Crowley said that some residents had moved into the borough through the old Locata based scheme, whilst others might have used a mutual exchange.