Tenants keep quiet on home moves
HOUSING officers have detected signs of a worrying trend in tenants abandoning their homes without letting anyone know.Although absolute numbers are small the increase is alarming given the pressure on waiting lists for council homes in a climate of escalating house prices and dwindling stocks of affordable homes.
HOUSING officers have detected signs of a worrying trend in tenants abandoning their homes without letting anyone know.
Although absolute numbers are small the increase is alarming given the pressure on waiting lists for council homes in a climate of escalating house prices and dwindling stocks of affordable homes.
The trend was discovered by Ian Tippet, housing services manager at Babergh District Council, and so far does not seem to have hit other councils that still own housing.
Mr Tippett said: "Babergh is dealing with more abandoned council houses in the first five months of 2002/03 than in the whole of the previous year."
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Last year the authority had two houses abandoned throughout the whole year, this year three have been abandoned in the first five months.
It can take several months to establish that a property has been abandoned then go through the necessary legal steps to re-possess it before the property can be re-let and this is what has led to Mr Tippett's concern.
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The council currently has 1,300 applications for council housing on its waiting list.
It also has 26 households in its homeless units in Sudbury and Hadleigh and another two households in bed and breakfast accommodation.
Mr Tippett said: "Although in the context of Babergh's total housing stock of 3,900 dwellings this issue affects only a very small minority of properties any property unnecessarily vacant for even a week, leave alone a month or more, causes real hardship to those awaiting an offer.
"We are appealing to tenants who are thinking of leaving their accommodation to let us know well in advance of their departure date."
A year ago Babergh introduced a system of introductory tenancies, which gave new tenants the same rights as secure tenancies but only for 12 months.
The scheme, said Mr Tippett, was more flexible and allowed the council to take more effective action against the very small minority of tenants who were a persistent nuisance to their neighbours.
A spokeswoman at Ipswich Borough Council said they had not noticed a similar trend in abandoned council homes, although there were always one or two.
A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said it had had 36 homes abandoned over the last 10 years. Three had been abandoned in 1999/2000, two the next year, and six in 2001/02.
However, she said, the council's head of housing Nick Gowrley did not consider the figures problematic.