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City of Wolverhampton Council is opening up access to housing for young people and families by removing the age restriction on some of its flats.

Currently 10% of the council’s housing stock is reserved for people over a designated minimum age – largely 30 years old – while families with younger children are also unable to access age designated flats.

A series of recommendations are being put forward to Cabinet on March 23rd to improve accessibility to housing for those on the housing register.

An exception would see the minimum age designation of at least 50 remain in place for former sheltered flats, where older people live with people of a similar age in a supportive environment which includes communal facilities.

Councillor Peter Bilson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Assets, said:

It is important the council make the best use of its housing stock. It accounts for nearly a quarter of all housing in the city and supplies homes to those most in housing need. Changing our Allocations Policy will enable us to open up more affordable housing to young people – and make more quality family accommodation available to families in need of two-bedroom homes.

Following consultation on the proposed changes with affected tenants there were concerns over a perceived increase in anti-social behaviour and issues arising from inter-generational living.

These fears have been allayed with reassurances from the council there will be tight controls in place and strong action taken against anti-social behaviour.

FAQs

Why is the Council reviewing age limits on flats?

The Council has over 2,000 flats in the city that have an age limit applied to them. Removing age limits ensures the majority of the Council’s housing is accessible to those in housing need regardless of age; it improves the scale and choice of accommodation available to residents and it ensures equality of opportunity for those accessing Council housing.

What factors have been considered as part of the review?

A number of factors have been considered as part of the review;

  • the need to improve access to Council housing to those households in housing need,
  • to ensure Council housing is occupied primarily by those in housing need,
  • to increase the availability of Council housing across the city,
  • to ensure provision of housing for older people in line with need in those blocks where properties are adapted or have facilities which offer a provision, service and/or community feeling, reducing the likelihood of social isolation

How will blocks be affected as a result of the review?

The Council is proposing that the age limits currently in place on most blocks will no longer be in place from 1st April 2016. The majority of these age limits currently stand at 30 years of age. As and when a flat becomes vacant it will be advertised to applicants without an age limit. Any applicant on the housing register who is eligible in terms of household size, including families with children will be able to register their interest in that flat by placing a bid on the Homes in the City website. The household with the highest priority, which is determined by a number of factors set out in the Council’s Allocations Policy will be offered the flat. Over time this could mean younger residents may occupy properties within the block.

Will there be any blocks of flats in the city that have age limits on them?

As part of the review a proportionate number of blocks have been identified that will have an age limit of 50 years plus. These blocks already have an age limit of at least 50 years old. This is to offer some provision of accommodation in the city where properties are adapted or have facilities which offer a provision, service and/or community feeling which is more suitable for older people. These blocks include:

  • The Acres, Brantley Avenue, Finchfield, Wolverhampton, WV3 9AR
  • The Poynings, Regis Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, WV6 8Q
  • The Mews, Shaw Road, Woodcross, Wolverhampton, WV14 9PU
  • Hugh Gaitskell Court, Park View Road, Stowlawn, Bilston, Wolverhampton, WV14 6HE
  • Masefield Mews, Masefield Road, The Scotlands, WV10 8SB
  • Grosvenor Court, Lakefield Road, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, WV11 3RD
  • Redcotts Close, Redcotts Close, The Scotlands, WV10 8RF
  • The Dell, Hampstead Close, Wednesfield, WV11 1NR
  • Graiseley Court, Hallet Drive, Graiseley, Wolverhampton, WV3 0NT
  • Hayling Grove, Tudor Crescent, Penn, Wolverhampton, WV2 4OE
  • Tong Court, Boscobel Crescent, Boscobel, Wolverhampton, WV1 1QQ
  • Tremont House, Tremont Street, Heath Town, Wolverhampton, WV10 0JD
  • Lincoln House, Tremont Street, Heath Town, Wolverhampton, WV10 0JB
  • Harrowby Court, Chetton Green, Brinsford Road, Wolverhampton, WV10 6ER
  • Patshull Court, Block C, Chetton Green, Brinsford Road, Wolverhampton 

What are the benefits of removing age limits?

Reducing the age limits from flats, the majority of which are set at age 30 plus, improves the chances of those in housing need accessing accommodation.

It also establishes a consistent approach to the use of age limits specifically for meeting the housing needs of older residents, which is fair and transparent in the letting of housing.

The introduction of children and young people to flats helps build mixed and strong communities.

How will the Council ensure the smooth transition of the removal of age limits?

Wolverhampton Homes and the tenant management organisations that manage housing on behalf of the Council have robust processes in place for letting properties. This includes:

  • Undertaking a number of checks on new applicants to the housing register
  • Where there is evidence of unacceptable behaviour for example, previous anti-social behaviour or persistent non-payment of rent using the Allocations Policy the applicant can be given the lowest priority for housing. Where the behaviour is serious enough to make them unsuitable to be a tenant they can be excluded from the housing register for a period and so unable to bid for housing.
  • Undertaking robust pre tenancy work with new tenants, which sets out their responsibilities and the consequences unacceptable behaviour, which can result in eviction. 

The integration of younger people and families into blocks will be a slow process dependent on flats becoming available and households being successful in their bids. This will be effectively managed by Lettings teams and Estate Managers who will be quick to address any issues as and when they arise.

Wolverhampton Homes and the tenant management organisations also have mechanisms for managing tenancies and zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour. For example:

  • There is not expected to be an increase in anti-social behaviour as a result of these changes however if there is the citywide, cross tenure Anti-Social Behaviour unit within Wolverhampton Homes will act quickly to respond and will undertake targeted, multi-agency, preventative work.
  • New tenants have an introductory tenancy for 12 months. Any breaches are dealt with and in cases of persistent or serious anti-social behaviour the tenant will be evicted.
  • There is a tenancy sustainment service which helps to identify and resolve any issues with tenants maintaining tenancies and there is a mediation service to help resolve neighbour disputes.
  • The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 has made things simpler and faster for agencies when dealing with ASB.
  • The changes will be closely monitored based on a range of information including feedback from Estate Managers and the Anti-Social Behaviour unit with action taken where necessary.

If tenants have concerns how can these be raised and addressed?

If you have any questions about the changes and how you will be affected, please call City Direct on 01902 551155.

If you have any issues with anti-social behaviour or neighbour conflict please make contact by emailing city.direct@wolverhampton.gov.uk or calling 01902 551188 or visit our anti-social behaviour pages.

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