Fixed-term tenancies could be costly, warns Shelter
Councils could pay much more for fixed-term tenancies than the government has suggested, homelessness charity Shelter has warned.
Shelter today launched a guide to help local authorities draw up their tenancy strategies, which must be published by January next year under the Localism Act 2011.
Each fixed-term tenancy could require a review, the cost of which could be ‘far greater than’ the Communities and Local Government department estimate of £47 for a two-hour process, the guide says.
It also believes the CLG’s expectation that one in 20 households would refuse to vacate properties at the end of the fixed term is a ‘gross under-estimate’.
‘Firstly, we believe that far fewer than 19 out of 20 tenants will voluntarily vacate their homes at the end of a fixed-term,’ the shelter report indicates.
‘Especially if they have been living in the property for a longer period. Secondly, the average court fees cited in the [CLG] impact assessment are too low.’
The current court fee for an undefended possession claim is £175, the charity says, but this does not take into account the cost to the authority of preparing and conducting possession. Shelter estimates a minimum total cost of possession proceedings would be £662 per case.
Shelter has pulled together evidence of the impact of different tenancy lengths on particular groups, including families, older people and people with physical disabilities for the guide.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive said: ‘We recognise that local authorities have difficult choices to make with limited housing available, and hope this guide will help them to fully consider the potential impacts of different tenancies when making these choices, based on the global evidence available.
‘In our experience we know that families need homes, not just a roof over their heads. Councils and housing associations must look out for families’ best interests when making decisions about how long they know they have a home for - something that can affect the stability and sense of pride in neighbourhoods as a whole.’