Lambeth Council is to give more householders incentives to ‘downsize’ and move to a smaller home if they no longer need the extra bedrooms.
With pressure on housing in the capital growing ever greater, the scheme is designed to tackle the issue of ‘under-occupancy’, where people live in homes with spare bedrooms they no longer use.
Cash payments of £1,000 for every bedroom they free up will be offered to people who agree to downsize, with the council also offering to pay their removal costs.
It is estimated that around 5,000 tenants may currently be ‘under occupying’ in Lambeth, meaning there are potentially thousands of bedrooms that are not being used. The council hopes the changes to its ‘Transfer Incentive Scheme’ will encourage some of these ‘underoccupiers’ to move to smaller properties, freeing up larger homes for families who need them.
Lambeth Council already offers the £1,000 incentives to under-occupiers in certain circumstances, but it is now expanding the scheme so it will be open to more people. It’s also cutting out some of the red tape and making the scheme simpler and easier for people to understand.
Cllr Lib Peck, Cabinet Member for Housing on Lambeth Council, said: “This is a really good scheme that has the potential to free up much needed larger homes for families in Lambeth who are on the housing waiting list. We know it will not be for everyone, and no one will be forced or pressured to move if they don’t want to. But for those who no longer need the extra space, perhaps because their children have moved out and now have families of their own, the offer of a thousand pounds and help with the removal costs could be the extra incentive they need to move somewhere smaller.”
“Like most places in London there is huge demand for four and five bed properties in Lambeth, and long waiting lists. These changes show Lambeth Council is prepared to take a lead and be proactive in tackling the issue of under-occupancy.”
A number of changes to the scheme are proposed. The major change is that all under occupiers will be eligible for the scheme. Until now incentives have not been offered to people moving from 3-bedroom to 2-bedroom homes.
This change recognises the fact that many older single people or couples may still want an extra bedroom for when family members come to visit, or for a carer should they need one in the future.
The rules on the size of the property people can move to are also being relaxed. Currently, only under-occupiers of 4-bed and larger homes are permitted to move to a property larger than their “allowed property size”. This means that single people or couples in a 4-bedroom property or larger can downsize to a 2-bed home, but single people or a couple in a 3-bed cannot downsize to a 2-bed, only a 1-bed. The council is changing this rule to allow all households under-occupying to move to a smaller property that is one bedroom larger than their normal “allowed property size” – so, for example, single people or couples in a three bed property will be able to downsize to a 2-bed home, instead of the 1-bed they would have been allowed under the old rules.
The changes are due to come in to effect this week.
To apply for the scheme or to learn more call the council’s Housing Options and Advice Service on 020 7926 4200.