A LERWICK councillor believes there could be benefit in doing more to provide two or – “at a push” – three bedroom properties to single folk in the chance they start a family.
John Fraser told a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s development committee on Tuesday that this could mean the local authority’s houses are let for longer periods of time.
The Lerwick North councillor made the comment in response to an annual review of the housing allocation presented to elected members.
The highest demand for social housing across Shetland remains for one-bedroom properties, but outside of Lerwick the majority of properties in the housing stock are three-bedroom.
Fraser asked whether anything could be done to allocate larger homes to single people in case they start a family.
He said since the start of man “boy meets girl and two becomes three”.
The councillor said people in single properties inevitably often end up seeking a larger home if they find a partner and start a family, creating a more regular turnover of tenancy.
“In that time they no longer need to move home,” Fraser said referring to people starting families.
“A benefit of that is that they end up potentially being in that accommodation for perhaps a lifetime.”
He added that if tenants are in a house for a longer period of time, they might take more care over their property, while also fostering a sense of community in their area.
Development committee chairman Alastair Cooper said there have been instances in some rural areas outside of Lerwick of a three-bedroom property being let to a single person, saying there was no “cast iron rule”.
The North Mainland councillor added that large housing developments like at Staney Hill in Lerwick should offer a wider mix of properties, but he said the issue raised by Fraser could be discussed by the council in the future.
Housing manager Anita Jamieson said she could compile a briefing paper on the issue set in context against the housing allocation policy.
Figures presented to councillors, meanwhile, said that tenant satisfaction was up in 2019/20 compared to the previous year.
Ninety five per cent of new tenants said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the standard of their permanent new home, compared to 76 per cent in 2018/19.
For temporary accommodation that figure sat at 98 per cent compared to 92 per cent the previous year.
Reflecting on the figures, council leader Steven Coutts said he wished to pay credit to housing staff.
“That’s very good standards that we are setting, so I think it’s worth highlighting that,” he said.
The annual figures showed that there was a slight decrease in new housing applications in 2019/20 compared to the previous year – 589 compared to 623.
As of 31 March there were 580 live housing applications.
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