Monday, 30 March 2015

Free rent offer for downsizers in Thurrock

An Essex Council is considering offering periods of free rent to under-occupying tenants who move to smaller properties.

The move by Thurrock Council is designed to free up properties and alleviate the impact of the coalition’s bedroom tax. This will see social housing tenants of working age with one or two spare rooms docked 14 per cent or 25 per cent of their housing benefit respectively.

Thurrock is looking to offer up to six months free rent for tenants downsizing or cash payments if the tenants claim housing benefit. The offer would also apply to pensioners, who are exempt from the bedroom tax.

Barbara Brownlee, director of housing at Thurrock Council, said 45 households downsized last year, but that she expects the number to double this year.

She said the council had yet to calculate how many of its 10,000 households will be affected by the bedroom tax. She also said the council will offer support, such as staff to help people move and settle in to their new homes.

Ms Brownlee, who stressed the proposal is at an early stage and would be scrutinised by councillors next Wednesday, estimated the measures would cost between £200,000 and £250,000 and be funded through the housing revenue account.

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