ONCHAN Commissioners are opposing a government suggestion that all public sector tenancies should be fixed for two years.
The Department of Social Care (DSC) has produced a draft policy document that demands all public sector tenancies should be granted for a fixed term of two years, effective from April 1 this year.
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A statement from the Onchan board reads: ‘Onchan Commissioners are of the opinion that the fixed-term tenancy agreement is not in the best interest of its tenants, and in the circumstances will not be introducing these in respect of the commissioners’ own social housing stock.’
The authority has written to the department’s minister Chris Robertshaw MHK to say why it opposes the suggestion.
Commissioners chairman Robin Turton said: ‘The government’s own Housing Review Consultation in 2012 did not support a two-year term. In fact, the majority of respondents suggested a five-year term. We believe that the introduction of means-testing every two years imposes a considerably enhanced administrative and cost burden. There seems little or no benefit in incurring these additional costs. We will continue to offer our tenants the existing weekly tenancy agreement, which provides the flexibility required for proper management of our housing stock.’
At their board meeting on Monday, members expressed considerable concerns about the recent spate of social housing policies that have been issued from the DSC.
‘Changes to our policies should be reasoned and transparent,’ said Rob Callister. ‘In addition to the fixed tenancy, the government has issued a revised points system for rents that seems to create some anomalies, with existing tenants subject to rent rises ranging from 3.5 per cent to a massive 22.2 per cent.
‘Our local authority lives within its means. We do not claim any deficiency payments for our general housing stock, and only a small amount for sheltered housing. We do not need to be burdening our social housing tenants with extra rental costs.
‘Unfortunately, we have not been given enough time to create our own alternative system, so for the moment we have to implement the DSC’s scheme.’
Rent increase letters have now been sent to all of the commissioners’ tenants.
‘I am really annoyed that this has been forced upon us,’ said Derek Crellin. ‘I know that some people demonise our tenants by suggesting that they are benefiting unreasonably but that is not true. The taxpayer and the ratepayer are not required to subsidise our social housing. The rents we receive and the reserves we hold cover our costs. We are not in the business of profit-seeking so why should we increase our rents beyond what is needed to keep us debt-free?’
The commissioners say that it is time to reclaim their statutory powers and they will be working towards their own policies on rent, tenancy agreements and regular reviews of tenants’ circumstances.
‘A number of options have been considered and we hope to complete a review of the rental situation within a few weeks,’ said Mr Turton. ‘Tenants can rest assured that we have their best interests in mind.’
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Weather for Isle of Man
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 13 C
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Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
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