Bristol Housing Associations introduce ‘housing speed dating’

Due to the introduction of the bedroom tax as part of the welfare reforms, many social housing tenants are being forced to move into smaller properties in order to avoid having their housing benefits cut. However, many have said that that they struggle to find a new property, and that the process of looking for a new place to live takes a considerable amount of time, meanwhile they are losing money and struggle to pay other bills.

This is why four housing associations in Bristol have decided to set up ‘housing speed dating’, where at events tenants from each association can meet up and try and ‘swap houses’. Merlin Housing Society, Knightstone Housing Association, Sovereign Housing Association and Solon South West Housing have organised three events for their tenants, and they are hoping that a large amount will be able to find new properties quicker than usual. Discussing the events, Barbara Reid, Merlin’ head of neighbourhood services said: “Welfare reform is bringing huge changes for social housing tenants. Around 6,500 people living in Bristol and surrounding areas have been affected by the introduction of the bedroom tax.”

“It’s not just demand for smaller properties though, we have families in need of bigger homes because they’ve outgrown their current one, and older people who are struggling to manage larger properties. For some the only option is to move, but up until now that hasn’t been easy. The speed-dating concept has developed as a result of one we held earlier this year, which really bought home the demand for house swaps.” Meanwhile, Lynette Nigh, assistant director of housing management and customer contact for Knightstone said: “A large number of our residents are affected by welfare reform, so we’re working hard to help them understand and cope with the changes.

“We’re pleased to be involved with these events, which offer a different option for residents who’re struggling after the introduction of the bedroom tax.” If the events are successful tenants from each of these associations will hopefully be able to save hundreds of pounds each year, however it does mean that those working for the associations will have to organise the house swaps extremely quickly. Landlord insurance, tenancy agreements and inventories will all have to be drawn up in an extremely short amount of time if tenants want to move as soon as possible, which means that each of the associations will have a lot of work cut out for them.

Leave a Reply