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'Why was property left empty?'

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: June 28, 2012

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News of the eviction has been welcomed by neighbours, although some have asked why it could not have been carried out sooner to allow a new tenant to move in, instead of leaving the property empty.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's not right that there are so many decent families out there desperate for a home that can't get one yet some people continue to cause problems and still have their homes all paid for.

"We are all glad the court closed the flat but it is a shame it had to come to the point where it had to be tinned up making the area look like a slum and stopping new people being able to move in. Surely they could have done something sooner?"

There are more than 11,000 people on Bath and North East Somerset Council's waiting list but only 600 properties are available to let every year.

One in four lettings is suitable for older people meaning that families and single people face huge competition to find a home.

To try to address the issue B&NES has been looking at how the authority could free up more social housing.

The council plans to support social housing providers such as Somer Hosuing to offer flexible tenancies of no less than five years to all new tenants, except people who are old or have a long-term illness disability.

It has also been suggested that the way the social housing register is prioritised should be changed, to encourage people in larger homes they do not need to move to smaller properties and to restrict the list to people who have a local connection but cannot afford private housing.

Councillor Tim Ball (Lib Dem, Twerton), cabinet member for homes and planning, said the council hoped to address this by working to achieve house building targets and ensure fair access for local people to avoid them having to move away from the district.

B&NES is yet to publish the results of the consultation finished last week but said they will be used to develop policies and strategies that determine who gets social housing and the types of tenancies they can expect.

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