Would you take cash to downsize your home?

Large property in Dartmouth, Devon

One of the pressures on local housing stock is the lack of incentive for people living in larger homes to move into a smaller property. This failure to downsize can be blamed on the difficulty, stress or cost of finding a suitable alternative but the log jam at the top of the market results in those at the bottom unable to vacate their smaller home.

Some councils already have policies in place to try to combat the issue, such as recommending that Registered Providers actively encourage tenants to downsize to smaller accommodation where appropriate. However, it is common for five years to be the minimum term for fixed term tenancies, or the use of lifetime or longer term fixed tenancies for specific households to ensure that they are not adversely disadvantaged.

A single person occupying a three bedroomed house clearly does not make sense, so how can councils encourage people to downsize?

Even those living in housing association or council owned properties can continue to live in their property once the children have left home or relatives have died. In the hope of releasing more family sized homes for occupancy by those who need them, West Devon Borough Council is offering housing association tenants on assured tenancies a cash incentive to downsize.

There is a huge demand for rental property in the area with many people, including locals and key workers, unable to afford to buy a home. The problem has been exacerbated in recent years by huge house price increases as well as an increase in holiday lets and second homes.

If they can find a suitable property, people living in two or more bedroom houses can now downsize to a property with at least one fewer bedrooms to qualify for a payment of £1,000 plus £500 each for the number of bedrooms they release. This means that a family downsizing from a four bedroom home to a two bedroom home would receive £2,000. A discretionary payment for areas where there are local pressures on existing housing stock could increase the payment to a maximum of £5,000.

The money is paid once the housing association landlords confirms that the nomination rights for the vacated property will be given to the council.