Nottingham council houses blocked for most people amid B&B crisis

A rooftop view from Porchester Road near Mapperley of housing in Nottingham
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

People waiting for Nottingham council housing have been stopped from bidding on many properties as priority is given to hundreds of families stuck in temporary accommodation like B&Bs. More than 230 homeless families are currently living in bed and breakfasts or hotels across Nottingham at a cost to the city council of over £500,000 a month.

The council also says it has 492 families living in other forms of temporary accommodation, including hostels. Nottingham City Council therefore says that to help reduce that number and to provide such families "with a secure home as quickly as possible", it was pausing the advertising of council homes as of June 28.

Properties such as new-builds and housing association properties will still be available, but access to bidding on council properties will be paused. One of those affected by the announcement is 46-year-old Dean Allan, who is facing eviction from his current property along with his wife and two children.

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Mr Allan is one of those affected by a decision from the Nottingham City Homes Group to sell 44 of its market-rent properties, something announced earlier this year. The move is being taken as part of efforts to repay £18 million of ringfenced money that should have been used on Nottingham's housing stock, but that was unlawfully spent elsewhere.

At the time of the announcement, 40 of the properties were still occupied and tenants have therefore been served Section 21 'no fault' eviction notices, a type of notice the Government has previously pledged to abolish. Mr Allan is appealing his Section 21 notice and therefore remains in his Woodborough Road property.

As he awaits a decision from court on whether his appeal can go to a hearing, he fears the bailiffs will come knocking. He said: "I don't want me and my family to be on the streets or in temporary accommodation. The policy they're doing now is absolutely ridiculous because I'm currently bidding on four to five properties a week.

"I'm not even viewing properties now, I'm just putting down deposits. But they're now taking half my options away.

"I understand to an extent, in terms of stopping advertising for people who are looking for somewhere new but who are currently in accommodation and have a roof over their heads. But for people facing homelessness that are in limbo, the council should be taking proactive steps to prevent us from being homeless."

Dean Allan outside Nottingham Council House
Dean Allan says he and his family are in limbo -Credit:Nottingham Post/Oliver Pridmore

Mr Allan says the council should have made an exception for people like him whose tenancies are not secure. Despite he and his wife having jobs and the family having savings, Mr Allan adds that he is unable to secure private rented accommodation due to the state of the market.

Nottingham City Council says it will continue to make "management allocations" within its own stock and that people on the waiting list can still bid for properties advertised, such as those from housing associations. The authority also said people can still make mutual exchanges, where they agree to swap properties with another tenant.

Nottingham City Council says that people need to be aged 18 or over and to have lived in Nottingham for three out of the last five years to join its housing register. Those who may not be eligible to join the register, and therefore to bid on social housing, include those with savings of more than £16,000 or people with current financial interest in a property. Single applicants with an income greater than £35,000, or joint applicants with a combined income of more than £60,000, are also unlikely to be eligible.

Andrew Redfern, the chief executive of the Nottingham homelessness charity Framework, said: "This is a very sad situation, which epitomises the housing crisis we are in. It is made worse by the parlous state of local government finances.

"The incoming government must recognise the preventative value of investment in good quality housing, including supported housing, as a way to reduce the burden on other public services. In the meantime, Framework is already working with more homeless people than it can find accommodation for.

"From talking to partners across the country we know the same is true for them. The creation of homelessness is a choice and national policy now needs to head in a new direction."

In terms of Mr Allan's situation in particular, Mr Redfern added: "Whilst appreciating that the city council is committed to rectifying a historic financial imbalance, the disruption to this family will bring its own costs both to them and ultimately to the local authority itself."

A Nottingham City Council spokesperson added: "There has been no change in policy. There is a statutory duty to rehouse people who have been in long term temporary accommodation, and the council does this as a routine measure."