Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Plans 'to help relocate tenants'

Elderly council tenants could be allocated 'house hunters' to help move them into smaller properties
Elderly council tenants could be allocated 'house hunters' to help move them into smaller properties

Elderly council tenants could be allocated "house hunters" to help move them into smaller properties, under Government plans.

The dedicated officers would offer assistance with everything from locating a more manageable home to packing and shifting possessions.

Housing minister Grant Shapps outlined the idea as part of measures to ensure the country's social housing stock was used more effectively.

Some 430,000 properties have two or more empty bedrooms, while a quarter of a million families live in overcrowded accommodation.

Mr Shapps said £13 million was being shared between councils to fund help for tenants who wanted to "downsize".

Local authorities will decide exactly how the cash is spent, but the minister highlighted the possibility of "house hunter" officers.

Removal costs could also be covered, along with bills for decorating, repairs and minor improvements at the new property.

Mr Shapps stressed that no-one would be forced out of their homes, but added: "Older people can become the victims of their own changed circumstances, as the homes they have lived in for years become places to endure, not enjoy.

"As children grow up and fly the nest, these tenants can often find themselves trapped in larger family homes that no longer meet their needs.

"That's why I'm giving these residents the chance to start a new life in a new home that better meet their changing needs. Fifty councils from across the country will get a share of £13 million to boost their efforts to make it easier for those wanting to downsize to do so."

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