Has Harlow Council made it impossible for tenants to move? Here is their response

General / Fri 22nd Oct 2021 at 11:36am

ON THURSDAY, we asked the question: “Has Harlow Council made it impossible for tenants to move?”.

It was by far our most read story, with over 15,000 page views that day. It may highlight an issue which is very important to our readers.

Despite the detailed response that you can read below, housing officers are still telling tenants that if you, for example, blocked off a door on 1982 or 1999 or 2008, then you cannot move unto you have put it back in its original state.

We did give Harlow Council a right to reply. Here it is:

A Harlow Council spokesperson said:

“The Tenant Moves Incentive Scheme is designed to help tenants to downsize to a smaller more appropriate home via the Housing Needs Register and Mutual Exchange scheme. It provides a financial incentive should tenants wish to downsize. It also enables the council to free up homes of all sizes so that they can go to those who need them.

The scheme is entirely voluntary and the council offers both practical and financial support as part of it. It is a popular scheme so funding is allocated on a first come, first served basis.

“To ensure that homes are safe places for new tenants to live in and to help ensure that empty homes can become available more quickly, there are a number of conditions that tenants must meet when making an application.

This includes maintaining their home to a satisfactory standard and this is subject to a property inspection.

Tenants must also have kept to the terms and conditions of their tenancy agreement 12 months prior to making an application, which includes not carrying out alterations or improvements to their home without first getting approval from the council. This includes kitchens, bathrooms and alterations to rooms.

“Applications are not accepted from households who are required to move so that repairs can be made to their homes. However, applicants will need to complete any works to their property, which has been identified during the inspection prior to the move going ahead. As a landlord we take a common sense approach in deeming which repairs need to be undertaken and it will usually be works where the structure of the property has been altered and where works are needed for the safety of the new tenants. We will always work with the existing tenants to look at how any issues can be resolved and we have a complaints procedure where tenants can ask that the matter is investigated.

“Getting major alterations corrected also helps to ensure that, when the property is returned to the council, minimal works to the property are required to bring the property back to a lettable standard. However, once a property has become vacant, the cost of any works identified that should have been carried out by the tenant, or were the tenants’ responsibility, would be recharged back to the outgoing tenants. This is a standard condition for any property which becomes void unless the tenant has passed away.

“Any alterations or improvements made to a council property by the tenant, must always receive approval to ensure that our homes remain safe places for people to live in. This is also a condition of the tenancy agreement. If any alterations have been carried out without permission, tenants will be asked to reinstate any alterations that they have made. We urge all tenants considering making any changes to their homes, however small or large, to get in contact with us before going ahead with any work. By not getting permission tenants could affect their eligibility for the tenant moves incentive scheme and other schemes.

“We want to make maximum use of it housing stock and place people in the most appropriate accommodation, which meets their housing need, at the time most suitable to their time of life.

We welcome tenants who care for and improve their homes and a common sense approach is always adopted with each case considered on its own merits.”

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2 Comments for Has Harlow Council made it impossible for tenants to move? Here is their response:

2021-10-23 13:26:51

Having seen the poor design quality in some houses of the Council team when "upgrading" homes there's little confidence in the Council. The above Council response shows that essentially the Council is retrospective rather than being prepared to help tenants improve their homes. People generally try to improve rather than more particularly as families grow and by being proactive and engaging with tenants who want to improve, the housing stock could be better maintained, made progressively better and avoid major disruptive retro fits. That said all credit due to the high quality of some of the new build Council homes under Labour

2021-10-24 15:59:06

If I was to move would it mean I would have to put blown plaster back on the walls, replace the black mould and rotten floorboards and put the gaping hole back into the bedroom door? After all that was just a few examples of how bad our house was when we first moves in. I think it rather difficult, as well as pointless, as to how to reach such a level of incompetence to return it to the poor state that the house was in when we first moved in.

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