Council Tenancies In Scilly Set For Change

Government changes to Council house tenancies could mean that better-off islanders will not have a property for life.

And benefit changes that penalise people with properties too big for their circumstances could mean more movement within the Council housing stock.

Councillors have been given an overview of next year’s changes by housing officer, Ian Hamilton.

Council homes are currently let on assured or secure tenancies, known as ‘Life Time Tenancies.’

The government wants tenants to sign up to new 5 year, ‘Flexible Tenancies.’

These will be reviewed to see whether the tenants can afford alternative accommodation so that housing is allocated according to need.

Ian says tenants who acquire private property may loose their Council tenancy .

This will only apply to people taking up new agreements, which Chair of Planning, Cllr Gaz O’Neil, felt was a shame.

Welfare reform changes will reduce housing benefit given to people occupying one or more rooms above their household size.

That could force people to move to smaller units.

Marian Bennett was concerned that the proposed elder care housing on Carn Thomas was designed to include a spare bedroom for guests, but Ian Hamilton says the elderly and vulnerable will be exempt.

Three tenants are likely to be affected and they have been informed.

The changes could mean that new tenancy rents are higher. The government wants landlords that receive central funding, like housing associations and Councils, to charge up to 80% of the local market rate for rent.

There are 108 Council and 59 housing association homes here.

But it’s hard to calculate the private rental rate because the Duchy asks tenants of its 185 homes to make an offer for what they are prepared to pay and Ian says there can be a ‘yo-yo effect’ with Duchy rents.

So the Council will set new tenancies at 80% of the local housing allowance rate. That will raise more cash for future developments.

Fred Ticehurst felt the Duchy of Cornwall had a lot to answer for and should be encouraged to assess its rental policy.

He said the process used by the Duchy to set its rents is ‘totally iniquitous’ and affects the balance of rents on Scilly. He felt the Council could encourage a fairer way of assessing these in their regular meetings with the organisation, which are due to restart.

Gordon Bilsbough told the meeting that one of the biggest problems with securing accommodation was due to the number of second homeowners taking up housing stock.

Gordon says around 30% of houses in Scilly are second or holiday homes and that makes a big difference to the balance of housing here.

Tenant’s views on the changes are being sought through a consultation.

You can contact the housing office to share your opinions.


3 Responses to Council Tenancies In Scilly Set For Change

  1. Cassandra December 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Matthew Taylor, former Lib-Dem MP for Truro and St Austell, wrote a report at the request of the previous Labour Government entitled The Living Working Countryside, which was basically a review of the rural economy and affordable housing. He concluded…

    ”In summary, there is no clear evidence that second homes or holiday lets greatly affects affordability for local people. However, as they would anyway likely command high prices and attract in-migrants, stopping the second home buyer would do little to make more homes available at an affordable price for local people”

  2. Bill Hiner December 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Is it right that someone buys a council house, sells it for a good profit, buys a private home and lives in it for a period, sells it, and then seeks a council house again? This happens nationwide.
    I think it only fair to young folk trying desperately to get on the housing ladder that such manipulation of the housing stock should cease.

  3. Katie F December 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

    It’s disgusting that some people own other properties on the islands or the mainland but rent social housing on Scilly, and it’s a real shame that the new agreements will only apply to new tenants: I’d like to see sitting tenants forced to declare other assets in a review-based system.

    Councillor Billsborough’s comments are interesting but I think we should recognise the fact that no matter who they are owned by, the properties belonging to second home owners are, and mostly always have been, privately owned. As such, second home owners may drive up the market value of properties but they don’t directly occupy (or fail to occupy!) houses that could be used as affordable accommodation for locals.

    Perhaps property values will drop now that travel to the islands is less certain? If I was a 2nd home owner I’d be rethinking my holidays… But then, I’m not sure that house prices will ever drop enough to make them within reach of young locals.