Leeds City Council is looking at ways to reduce the number of people who are being penalised for the under occupancy of a house.
The council is looking at the possibility of re-designating the number of bedrooms in a wide range of council homes across the city so as to reduce the amount of people who may lose out on their housing benefit.
As part of the new welfare changes that are now in place, those tenants under occupying a house will receive up to 14% less housing benefit if they are assessed to have one additional bedroom and up to 25% if they are assessed to have two or more additional bedrooms.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“As part of our ambition to be the best city in the UK we want to make sure people can live comfortably in our city without the worry of not being able to pay their rent.
“Under the new welfare changes, tenants under occupying a house by one or more bedrooms will have their housing benefit reduced, therefore making it more difficult to pay the rent each month.
“Officers at the council will be investigating the possibility of re-designating 398 three-bedroom low rise flats to two bedrooms, 341 five bedroom houses with a downstairs bedroom to four bedroom houses and 126 two bedroom multi storey flats to one bedroom.
“These properties are being looked at because they fall into the highest percentage of properties that are currently affected by under occupancy and fall into low demand when finding new tenants. These properties also present a feasible option for re-designation due to the current layouts.
“If the council is able to re-designate all 865 properties that we are currently looking at, it will mean the households affected will not have to find additional funds and will not find themselves in a place of hardship.
“The council will benefit from this scheme through the savings that could have been associated with the additional resources such as legal costs and additional staff that come with chasing rent.”