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Council housing - move tenants subject to decreasing family size?

350 replies

whatever17 · 29/05/2011 00:47

Do you think that tenants in social housing should be moved after their family's have grown?

For instance, a family gets a 3 bed house then the kids grow up and leave. Should the parents be forced into a 1 bed property? SHould they have to leave their family home after 40 years?

If so, surely no one would have any pride in the property. If they feel they have "a home for life" they will beautify the garden and keep everything respectable.

Should the solution be that there is enough social housing for everyone in need?

OP posts:
WillyBumBalls · 29/05/2011 11:21

In the area I live there is a severe shortage of housing due to higher than anticipated levels of immigration (words from housing officers mouth not mine), one of my friend's mum has lived alone in a 4 bedroom house for the past 14 years although she has lived there for 35 years in total but she has been fighting to get a one bedroom ground flat in an area that is decent for the last 5 years but apprently the demands are too high. On the flip side my mum and step-dad divorced 2 years ago and the house was sold in March 2010 when my mum was put into a 3 bedroom homeless accomodation with my twin sisters aged 5 and brother aged 16. She got keys to a permanent home last week after more than a year waiting, the 82 year old owner finally decided that it was unfair to be living there himself.

I also know a woman from nursery who was asked to leave her 3 bedroom home 4 months after her severely disabled daughter died aged 17 and was then put into homeless accomodation for 18 months before being put in a 2 bedroom new build.

I think it is emotive but social housing is temporary to suit our needs whether it be for 1 or 50 years, I don't think it is right to force people from there homes though unless you can provide them with another suitable home of smaller size. I live in a 2 bedroom housing Association home with DP and DS but I am lucky enough to know that our home is a good enough size to cope if we had another child so we would'nt have to worry about moving, some peole don't have that luxury.

I also don't agree with buying social housing as it takes away from the whole point of it and leaves properties open to under-use and money grabbers when a family could use it after all hat is what they were built for.

Serenitysutton · 29/05/2011 11:21

Ah that's near where I live (and rent)! You can start off overcrowded. Your situation is quite common and related to the lack of 4 bed + houses. Unfortunatly you can't base the whole uk social housing policy on your individual circumstances, as galling as they are for you.

Serenitysutton · 29/05/2011 11:24

I'm sorry, that's supposed to say you can't start off over crowded, telling them you will take a 3 bed won't make any difference - after all, in fairness it's not your decison.

Firawla · 29/05/2011 11:36

I really doubt that these changes will make social housing less secure than private rented. As someone mentioned, many people have only 6 months secure tenancy on private rented, very rarely more than 12 months and if you are on rolling contract then only 2 months.
We are now looking to move to the 3rd flat in 3 yrs due to yet another landlord selling up, unfortunately the private renting market is a disaster at the moment, prices have gone up atleast 25% if not 50% in some properties, and with there being so many people looking to rent, landlords can become quite picky so we are getting nowhere simply due to having kids and landlords dont want kids in their houses, i'm sure families on housing benefit or single mums will be having an even harder time trying to find somewhere to live.
Our tenancy is up when I will be 37 weeks pregnant and likely to have to be induced at around 38 weeks, so its really not convenient and totally lacks security for us, i'm finding it difficult to know what to do for nursery places and things because we have no idea where we will be end up living by july let alone september.
Many people are in similiar situations to this so really don't feel much sympathy for the idea of people in too big houses being given notice that like in a year you are going to have to downsize, and given help with moving, help to find a suitable smaller place etc. Lucky for them!!
As for people saying like oh my mum doesn't want to downsize and why should she?? well because the house does not belong to her if it is a council place! People in private rental also may not want to move every year but you are not necessarily given a choice, so tough really. As people say on here its a very 'entitled' attitude isn't it. There are people who need the place more so they have to face reality, be happy for the yrs they had in a bigger place and be willing to move is the reasonable thing really.
Generally the housing market needs to be sorted though, I don't know what the government can do about it but something needs to be done, it's just ridiculous.
Also the person who said they blame phil and kirsty for housing market, why?!?! that seems a strange conclusion to make

TheHumanCatapult · 29/05/2011 11:37

serinty .thing is even with a 4 bed they going to have to add at least one bedroom downstairs .So a 3 bed would become a 4 so not over crowded but they can not see that .

I to think that selling of council houses needs to stop now as in quite a few cases they buy cheap then sell high and move anyway .I would be happy to have to downsize after 3 out of my 4dc leave home( if we ever get one ) and go into a 2 bed adapted property

TheHumanCatapult · 29/05/2011 11:52

oh and hell i mange in any size hous,e as long as I can go to the toilet and take a shower becuase its dam shitty having to crawl/slide into a bathroom on your backside at 37 Angry

Lunabelly · 29/05/2011 12:40

We finally got a 3-bed council house last year after years on the list. When they first brought in the A,B,C,D,and emergency bands, they put us in band C, and I long suspected that we should have been at least band B. (When a local councillor was canvassing for votes, we invited him in - he took one look, emailed the HA there and then, an inspector was sent round who classified us as statutorily overcrowded and we were moved to band A and housed within 6 weeks)

It was awful having 6 of us crammed into a dangerous 1-bed flat whilst MIL and SIL rattled around their large 3-bed HA house, but since we got our wonderful house, I am not leaving it until they carry me out in a box.

We spent 13 years in the old privately rented flat. When I first moved in, it was me and DD 1&2. Then I met DH, we decided to buy after our wedding, found out DD3 was on the way a week after our wedding, and then prices went from around £30k for a 2-bed flat to £80k then to £120k (!!!) in the blink of an eye. We were priced out of property.

Ok, I can deal, I IKEAly cubed the flat, and tried to ignore the mushrooms growing in the one proper bedroom and bathroom, put CO2 detectors everywhere to counteract the fact that the LL hadn't done a gas safety check for years, our kitchen was so small (fine when it was DDs and me) that we could have a fridge or an oven but not both - thank fucketty fuck for combi microwaves - and repeated the mantra "at least we have a roof and that's grand" over again.

DD3 contracted meningitis at 13months, nearly died - to read on the Shelter website that children living in overcrowded, substandard accomodation are ten times more likely to get meningitis was like a slap in the face.

LL was a lovely bloke, but not too hot on the repairs front, but as he left us alone we just got on with it. And having lovely neighbours made it bearable, became best friends; Until she and husband got a little too close.
Whilst mending our marriage, DS was sparked into life - and he saved my life, because the strain of what had happened plus EX-BF then going Fatal Attraction on me, to the point that I had to get the police involved, plus living in that scary shithole...
I wasn't going to commit legal murder to make other people feel better. As I told the midwife, it's not my unborn baby's fault that his father's a cunt.

So every week when the houses to be bid on went live, I'd bid bid bid, and even though it was only 5 minutes since the houses came up, there'd be 20, 40, 70 people in front of us. Then Psychoknickers next door would start her horrific cackling. One night I simply lost it, had a meltdown, ended up on strong antidepressants.

So when we got this wonderful, wonderful house, it actually saved my life. My DCs have space to play, to BE children. We have a safe boiler, safe electrics, NO MUSHROOMS!!!, a kitchen we can actually cook in, a garden we can go in without being harrassed by Psychoknickers, we have space to breathe. DH and I actually have a bed and our own room (we slept on a sofabed, not good for someone with my crappy joints) and OH!

We are so happy now.

Even though I had to go THOUSANDS into debt to move here (had to get beds, a cooker, carpets etc) this home...I cannot convey what it means to us. I don't know how much longer I could have coped or survived.
So, no, I cannot leave here. As Jessie says in Toy Story 2 "I won't go back in the dark".

Anyways, it's all academical, because housing costs being what they are, I doubt our DCs will ever be able to move out Hmm

lesley33 · 29/05/2011 14:06

The problem in some areas is that there is very little council accommodatio with only 1 bedroom. Where I live nearly all the council housing is 3 bedroomed, with a small number of 2 bedroomed and a small number of 1 bedroomen - both mainly in flat form - 3 or 4 storey high. They have no lifts and so aren't suitable for many older people like my parents who couldn't manage the stairs. They feasibly could only manage on the ground floor.

icooksocks · 29/05/2011 14:42

I love a good council house debate. But having ds2 sat on my lap makes it difficult to type I'm going to have to keep it short and sweet.
If the government bothered to regulate private rentals there would be less demand for social hoising.
When the time comes and our children leave-me and dh intend to downsize from our 3 bed HA home wether or not we have to. Its only fair-i will have served its puspose for s and there will be someone who will be in the same situation we were in when we were offered this property and they will need the house morethan we do.

pigface · 29/05/2011 14:44

That's strange lesley - in our area it's the opposite. Lots of 1 beds coming up for bidding but the 3/4 beds only come up every few months (and you have to have a really high no. of points to get a chance of succeeding). I live in a 2 bed council flat but fortunately we have a lift. It's a shame more councils aren't refurbishing old blocks - ours was built years ago without lifts but they were installed about ten years ago.

DS will move out of our flat next year when he goes to university, but I won't want to transfer to a one-bed. I'll still need the second bedroom for storage and for when the DCs return home during holidays, plus I want to keep open the option for the DCs to move back home in case of financial problems/relationship breakdown in the future. As I'm an existing tenant, I know the changes won't affect me but I feel sad that others in the future won't have the option open to them.

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 14:49

Council houses are real peoples homes,not just houses .. they are not a different species to anyone else

So no, I don't think they should be forced to move

Bottleofbeer · 29/05/2011 14:49

I firmly believe that yes, people should have to move when they no longer need X amount of bedrooms or a certain sized house.

It's easy to forget that social housing was built as affordable accomodation for people who needed it. Council housing rent is cheaper because it's subsidised housing.

Yes, it becomes home but it should be taken with the knowledge it is until you no longer need it or to really chuck a cat among the pigeons, until you can afford to buy or rent privately. I know people in really decent jobs who are still living in subsidised social housing - why? there are families in desperate need living in B&Bs or seriously substandard private rentals while such and such lives in a three bed council house, with only the need for two bedrooms and having nice new kitchen/bathroom/new CH systems installed when they CAN afford to buy or rent a decent private rentals. OR put the rent up to match private rental prices when an income exceeds X amoubnt, using the profit to build more. As far as I see it, it's a form of benefit that a lot of people don't need.

Bottleofbeer · 29/05/2011 14:55

Even though I had to go THOUSANDS into debt to move here (had to get beds, a cooker, carpets etc) this home...I cannot convey what it means to us. I don't know how much longer I could have coped or survived.
So, no, I cannot leave here. As Jessie says in Toy Story 2 "I won't go back in the dark".

But what about when you don't need that space anymore? no consideration for the families in the situation you were in and what you said about MIL rattling around a big, three bed house? there seemed to be some resentment in that statement but if you refuse to leave when you're no longer in need of that house then that's exactly what you'll be doing.

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 15:02

Shall we stick all the old people in one bedroomed flats then,up flights of concrete stairs?

papermate · 29/05/2011 15:08

I do believe that council houses shouldnt be for life, they should be a stop gap for while you are stuck in a hard place.

Likewise i dont agree with being able to buy them , however there should be more government schemes where you can buy part ownership of paticular homes, when you are in a position to do so.

Like wise if you get a 3 bed council house, you shouldnt expect to get a larger one because you made the decision to have 3 more children!

Bottleofbeer · 29/05/2011 15:10

No, you find old people suitable accomodation.

If you want to have the security of living in a house, however big, then the bottom line is you have to buy and own the place. If you rent, it's not your house. If you can't afford to buy then frankly, suck it up.

I say that as a renter. My last house was so damp my son was in and out of hospital for the first 14 months of his life, culminating in him being tested for cystic fibrosis, it got that bad. Didn't stand a cat in Hell's chance of a council house. Yet people rattle about in three/four bed houses at a reduced rent even if they can afford a private rent or mortgage. It's wrong and a huge sense of entitlement to say "this is my home, I'm going nowhere" No, actually it's not YOUR (genric) home/house. I fought tooth and nail for a damp course or even CH (no, we didn't even have that) while in the five years we lived there a road comprised of council houses had new CH systems fitted TWICE. It's wrong and the reason the rent is so low is because us council tax payers help subsidise it. It's as good as a benefit that doesn't take your earnings into account.

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 15:11

I would hazard a guess that most of the people who are against council houses for life have never actually lived in one ,or would even consider living in one

Its so easy to dismiss someone elses life isn't it?

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 15:13

Council house tenants pay council tax and tax ,just like you

Bottleofbeer · 29/05/2011 15:19

Yes, they do pay council tax but that still doesn't dertact from the fact their rent is lower because it is subsidised.

Hazard guesses all you like but when I watched my son fight for every breath he took and an agent who point blank refused to carry out any of the work that needed to be done to make the house habitable then yes, I'd have lived in a council house. And yes, I'd have moved on when we no longer needed it.

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 15:25

Its not the council house tenants fault that there are shit landlords out there

Maybe that problem needs addressing?

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 15:27

Oh and some of my tax is no doubt spent on housing benefits for people to live in private rents ,but I don't have a problem with that

Curiousmama · 29/05/2011 15:33

I'm in two minds here. When I left exdh I had to rent privately after much searching. It was so difficult. I needed to be near to dss schools and had no hope in hell of getting social housing. And tbh the council didn't give a fuck Angry
My mum lives in a council house with her dp. It's 3 bedroom and near to 2 schools so ideal for a family. If she weren't 81 I'd be all for her getting a flat tbh. What's funny is she goes on about my uncle keeping his owned home whilst aunty's now in a home, because it's too big for him Hmm I commented that hers is too big for her but she stays in it and he has paid for his house so why shouldn't he live in it? She could've bought that house for 6k a few years ago because she's lived in it 40 plus years!

It really is a difficult one.

Curiousmama · 29/05/2011 15:34

Bottleofbeer that's awful Sad Are you ok now?

Curiousmama · 29/05/2011 15:35

usualsuspect it so needs addressing.

AliceWorld · 29/05/2011 15:40

Social housing was not built as affordable housing for those in need. It is only relatively recently that is has been seen as such. More notably it was built as part of government social programmes, much like the welfare state and the NHS. There is a ideological basis for social housing, that all citizens should have the right to shelter as a basic human need, and that should be supplied by the state, like health care. I know that is not how it is seen now, due to a myriad of government reforms, but it is factually incorrect to say it was built for people 'in need' and therefore others should be ousted. Had the NHS been treated like social housing, it would also now be seen as something just for people 'in need' with the rich having private health care.

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