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South Holland revises Tenancy Management Policy

Council tenants in South Holland are to receive guidance about passing on their contract to a family member in the event of death.

Updated rules regarding the management of about 4,000 tenancies across the area were discussed by by South Holland District Council cabinet members during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.

Concerns were raised about the rules relating to succession of tenancies, which only allow a joint tenant or, in the event of a sole tenancy, a husband or wife, partner or "co-habiting partner" to take over a tenancy if the existing tenant dies.

Coun Elizabeth Sneath raised concerns about public awareness concerning passing on tenancies within families.
Coun Elizabeth Sneath raised concerns about public awareness concerning passing on tenancies within families.

Coun Elizabeth Sneath, district councillor for Pinchbeck and Surfleet ward, said: "Succession is an issue and only last week I was visiting a family whose son still lives with them and they have no idea about this.

"These people have been in that house for 65 years and they just don't understand that they need to contact the council about it.

"To them, it's their house, they've always paid their rent and it's immaculate.

"This succession policy will be a complete shock to them and my concern is that we need to make residents more aware of the rules regarding succession of tenancy because the ones I saw weren't aware and they were very concerned."

As a concession to Coun Sneath and other cabinet members concerned about the existing rules, which another cabinet member described as "a bit harsh and unfair", the updated Tenancy Management Policy for South Holland includes "an allowance for discretionary successions", to be used by a senior official in the council's housing services department.

Coun Sneath said: "We have to make a special case sometimes for very elderly people in families because even though they should contact the council, there are people who won't."

Cabinet members agreed to launch a new publicity campaign to make tenants aware of the rules about passing a tenancy agreement on to a family member.

Leader Coun Gary Porter said: "It's an issue that's cropped up in a few places around the district and, for some people, it's a very serious one for them to have to deal with at what's probably the worst time in their lives.

"So let's try and make it as easy as possible for people to understand the policy, trying to put in some rationale as to why it's needed.

"Family accommodation owned by the council is rationed and there's no other way to describe it.

"We need to make it as easy for our tenants to understand the policy and, hopefully, avoid too many problems going forward."

. Area's council tax support bill to rise by five per cent

The cost of helping people on low incomes in South Holland with their council tax bills will cost the area nearly £440,000 this year, it has been confirmed.

The impact of COVID-19 on households has been blamed for a rise of just over £21,000, or five per cent, in the amount of council tax discount offered to those entitled to it.

A government grant of £461,387, giving working age council tax support claimants a cut in their bills of £150 this year, has helped ease the cost.

But across Lincolnshire, the total cost of council tax support this year is expected to be £4.310,244, of which nearly £3.3million will be borne by Lincolnshire County Council, with another £612,055 being picked up by the Police and Crime Commissioner's Office.

Cabinet members agreed to continue with the current Council Tax Support (CTS) Scheme in 2021/22, with the length of time for which people of working age can make "backdated claims" extended from one month to three months.

Coun Peter Coupland, the district council's portfolio holder for finance, said: "It's not time to make fundamental changes to the current, core principle of the CTS, to be uprated in line with the Department of Work and Pensions's annual uprate.

"This will mean consistency for claimants who might well be facing other financial challenges at this time.

"Backdating will not be automatic and will still need an application from the claimant to demonstrate good cause for not applying for CTS sooner.

"This will support those in need who might otherwise be left with an amount to pay for a period prior to their CTS application."

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