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East End families with kids under 10 may be offered short-term tenancies

PUBLISHED: 10:49 06 September 2012

Short term tenancies could soon be offered to families in London's overcrowded East End who have children under 10 years of age.

That would free properties when youngsters have left home to help tackle the growing housing waiting list, Tower Hamlets cabinet members have been told.

A strategy policy being drafted by Tower Hamlets council is now ready which is being put out for public consultation later this month.

But Opposition councillors fear short-term agreements could lead to discrimination.

Labour’s Ann Jackson, who chairs the authority’s scrutiny committee, warned last night’s cabinet meeting: “There may be an equality issue which could lead to legal problems—we will monitor who is being offered 10-year tenancies.”

Some lifetime tenancies currently offered by local authorities and social landlords could be replaced by fixed-term agreements, under the Government’s Localism Act passed last November.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman wants to keep lifetime agreements to “maintain sustainable communities”.

But this would be overruled in circumstances where “it is clear a property won’t be suitable beyond a short-term lease.”

One example was a need for a two-bedroom home for someone who is terminally-ill to have a partner or carer live with them, with the promise to rehouse the partner elsewhere later.

The Mayor wants all social landlords who use flexible tenancies to follow strict conditions to make sure needs of vulnerable people are met.

But the council has no specific powers to enforce its strategy, the cabinet was warned. Several East End social landlords already have fixed-term tenancies.

Lifetime tenancies under the proposed strategy would be offered to those over 60, those with long-term disability, anyone with a secured tenancy being transferring to a new property and tenants whose homes were transferred under the controversial Housing Choice programme six years ago.

But fixed-term tenancies of 10 years or more would be offered to families with one or more children under 10 years old.

The cabinet last night agreed the draft tenancy strategy for public consultation.

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