RENT arrears in South Tyneside are set to rise as a result of tenants hit by the ‘bedroom tax’ moving from specially-adapted threebedroom properties, a borough regeneration boss has warned.
This week, the Gazette revealed the plight of 46-year-old May Wileman, a grandmother and chronic arthritis sufferer.
Miss Wileman is being forced out of her three-bedroom home in Larch Avenue, South Shields, after her housing benefit was slashed by £46 a month.
The home she shares with her partner and grandson has been specially adapted to meet her needs – it has a walk-in shower and stairlift.
Now the local authority fears tenants will flee similar properties because they can no longer afford to live in them.
Next week, members of South Tyneside Council’s housing performance panel will consider five recommendations to support tenants in adapted properties to stay in their homes.
It comes amid fears over the cost to the council of carrying out adaptions to smaller properties, as tenants with health needs look to downsize.
Options include a review of discretionary housing payments and for the council’s welfare team to provide additional support for households at risk of falling into rent arrears.
In a report to the committee, David Cramond, the council’s corporate director of economic regeneration, says: “There is anecdotal evidence to suggest the more three-bed adapted properties have been coming available since the implementation of the Under Occupation Charge (bedroom tax).
“There is a need to protect the investment made in properties with large-scale, high value adaptions.
“There is a potential risk that increased downsizing from larger adapted properties could lead to increased costs and three-bedroom adapted properties being harder to let.”
The council has 4,524 adapted properties and it is estimated that 344 of those after affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.