Mansfield Council struggling to rehouse tenants looking to downsize

Mansfield Council is struggling to rehouse tenants looking to downsize, because not enough smaller homes of the right standards are available.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 12:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 1:00 pm

The authority says it has a ‘large number’ of people in need of rehousing across the district, but does not have sufficient homes to place them in.

Council figures show there are 143 applicants on the council’s Homefinder scheme under-occupying their tenancy – meaning they have spare bedrooms in the home.

This includes 86 single occupants and 33 couples, with the authority saying the ‘majority’ of people are aged 60 or over and looking to move into two-bedroom bungalows.

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Willington Court, Oak Tree, Mansfield.

However, during the 2021-22 financial year, just 69 two-bedroom bungalows were advertised on the Homefinder platform, with a third of these lettings given to current tenants who were under-occupying.

But the authority says it also has a large number of ‘difficult to let’ properties, mainly including one-bedroom flats, which are not appealing to the people looking to downsize.

It has set aside a small budget to decorate and carpet these properties in the hope of encouraging more people to consider moving into them.

Works have already taken place at properties on Willingham Court, Vale Court and Roston Court to redesign floor plans and make flats larger, which the council said has ‘improved appeal of these properties’.

The authority is also considering offering incentives such as white goods – including fridge-freezers, washing machines and tumble dryers – to current tenants looking to downsize into smaller houses.

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Paul Dawson, council housing solutions team leader, gave an update on the situation to councillors during the latest overview and scrutiny meeting.

He said: “There is an absolutely massive demand for housing in Mansfield and really across Nottinghamshire.

“We’re looking at ideas from other areas, including how we can let out some of our sheltered properties which have been empty for a number of years.

“This includes decorating them, carpeting them, whether to look at offering white goods.

“We’ve done some current upgrading work where we have carpeting and decorated ready to let, and this has worked well because we’ve had four or five [taken up] in recent weeks.

“And we’re also looking into potentially remodelling some properties and making them slightly bigger and modern looking, and looking to advertise them more as they come available.”

He said the council regularly writes to tenants under-occupying their homes to encourage them to look into viewings for the refurbished smaller properties.

Coun John Smart, member for Ransom Wood, told the meeting he has some older people in his area who ‘will not move’.

He said: “I’ve three old ladies and one of them is in a four-bedroom home and she will not move.

“In fact, two or three of them are in four-beds and of course, they have to pay rent, bedroom tax and have been told by housing staff to get a bungalow.

“It’s about looking around and seeing what’s on offer for them.”

Coun Stuart Wallace, member for Carr Bank, said: “I know a couple of families who have downsized in the past couple of years and it has worked well for them.”