Pensioners asked to leave London homes to make way for young familes

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A City Hall spokesperson said the scheme aims to free-up much needed social housing in London, while helping older people to relocate. At least 1,000 older Londoners have already moved out and swapped their lives in the capital for a place by the sea.

More than 3,000 properties on the coast, mainly two-bedroom bungalows and one and two-bedroom flats, are exclusively available to London’s social tenants aged 55+, reports MyLondon. 

The homes are dotted all along the coast, including locations such as Cornwall, Norfolk, and Lincolnshire, as well as sought-after countryside areas in Dorset, Cambridgeshire, and Shropshire. Many have private gardens or outdoor communal areas and are in “peaceful, purpose-built developments”.

People who move through the scheme become a tenant of the housing association that manages the property, paying a social rent and their former tenancy rights are protected. However, Seaside & Country Homes tenants lose the Right to Buy.

A City Hall spokesperson explained: “It means that local authorities are able to offer the [larger] vacant property to a family on the waiting list.”

Figures obtained by Lib Dem Assembly Member Hina Bokhari have found that around 1,000 swaps have taken place since 2015, with around a fifth of applicants being successful.

The City Hall website states the scheme is “very popular” with more than 150 successful applications per year: “As well as giving older people the opportunity to move to a new area, the scheme helps homeless and overcrowded families in London. This is because it gives them the chance to move into the homes vacated by those people who move to the seaside or countryside. This is why priority is given to Seaside & Country Homes applicants who will free up the most bedrooms.”

Every London borough is signed up to take part in the scheme. Some of those who have moved in the past chose to do so to be closer to family or friends and find a quieter, more relaxed way of life among other older people.

The schemes remit states that Seaside & Country Homes applicants are prioritised based on the number of bedrooms within their current home – “the greater the number, the greater priority you will have”. Those with just one or two bedrooms in London are unlikely to be able to make the switch.

Lib Dem AM Hina Bokhari said the scheme was “very popular”, adding: “It is beneficial to both older people who would like to live quieter lives away from the hustle and bustle of London, and younger working people who need accommodation in the city. But only about a quarter of applications to the scheme are successful annually. We should work to ensure that as many people as possible can be facilitated by the scheme.“

Opposition Tory AM Tony Devenish sounded a note of caution, telling MyLondon: “Like most schemes Sadiq Khan devises, the devil is in the detail. There is likely to be quite a low take-up. While we have nothing against such an initiative (in theory), but making sure Londoners aren’t socially isolated from friends and family must be strongly considered for those moving hundreds of miles. Such schemes don’t mask the reality that the Mayor of London’s overall housing record is appalling.”

Who is eligible?

  • If you are making a joint application the lead applicant must be at least 55 years of age and must be a current tenant of the property on the application.
  • If you intend to add a household member under the age of 55 they must be either your partner or spouse, current joint tenant, *registered carer or **dependent adult child. Second applicants aged under 55 are not able to become joint tenants of, or have succession rights to, Seaside and Country Homes properties.
  • Three-person households will be considered where two members are a couple and the third person is a carer or dependant adult child.
  • Applicants should have no rent arrears or history of anti-social behaviour, and should not be going through possession proceedings or being evicted.

The properties

More than 3,000 properties, mainly two-bedroom bungalows and one and two-bedroom flats, are “exclusively available” to eligible applicants. Some properties have private gardens or outdoor communal areas and are in peaceful, purpose-built developments. They are described as ideal for “single people, couples or others who have retired or wish to do so”.

Most of the properties are bungalows and do not generally accept pets.

You can view the map of properties here.

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