Harlow Council to re-start mutual exchanges

News / Fri 17th Jul 2020 am31 07:03am

HARLOW Council is set to re-start their mutual exchange housing programme.

Mutual exchanges are where housing tenants can change dwellings according to their needs.

The system has been on hold since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

That has left many residents in limbo and in what they have described as intolerable conditions.

Councillor Mark Wilkinson, portfolio holder for housing, said: “We will be assisting tenants over the next two weeks with processing their mutual exchanges. This will be for those who had already applied to move prior to 23 march 2020. Officers will directly contact each tenant to advise of the next stages and these applications will be the priority for now.

“We understand residents’ wishes to move as quickly as possible now lockdown is easing. For the safety of all and to help stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) and following government guidance, mutual exchanges were put on hold on 23 March and have remained on hold since. We have gradually reviewed and prioritised the services, which we offer as lockdown has eased and government guidance has changed. We will only allow moves to take place when it is safe to do so.

“We have fully reviewed measures and systems and we are confident that it is safe now for people to move. This has taken time and it is right that we take time to ensure the safety of all. We have now begun work to move outstanding mutual exchanges forward. This is involving reviewing where each mutual exchange is at and what health and safety inspections are required. HTS who carry out these inspections are also dealing with a backlog of every day repairs and inspections to our homes following the lifting of restrictions which have been in place during lockdown. Therefore these inspections will need to programmed and prioritised as part of HTS’ work.

“We anticipate that we will start to advertise new mutual exchanges applications around the end of July. Our processes have been reviewed in line with government guidance and to make it easier for residents to apply we will be moving the scheme to an online form. Support will be in place to help any tenants who are unable to go online or don’t have access to a computer.“

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