Empty sheltered housing in Flintshire 'costing £250k in lost rent'

A man walking up stairs in a houseImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Some flats become unsuitable as tenants grow older, the report said

An "excessive" number of empty sheltered homes is costing a council nearly a quarter of a million pounds a year in lost rent, officers say.

A review by Flintshire County Council showed some schemes were not popular.

The reasons include distance from shops, and upstairs flats unsuitable for less mobile elderly tenants.

Council bosses are being asked whether hard-to-let sheltered housing should be adapted to be made more suitable, or offered for use by tenants of any age.

Chief housing officer Neal Cockerton said in a report the 2,600 sheltered accommodation properties accounted for just over a third of Flintshire's housing stock.

Analysis showed "a series of issues where some of the schemes appear unpopular", resulting in a high turnover and properties left empty.

Sheltered housing in remote areas suffered from limited access to shops, especially with the closure of local convenience stores, the report said, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Upstairs flats also became unsuitable for elderly tenants over time as they became less mobile, it added.

Bedsits were also "generally unpopular" with older tenants and tended to be used as short-term accommodation.

The result was lost rent of £242,492 in 2018-19, the report said, equivalent to 2.2% of the £11.3m raised from sheltered accommodation tenants.

Suggested solutions include installing stairlifts, putting in extensive adaptations for people with disabilities, and support to allow residents to do internet shopping.

Empty flats could also be used to cut council spending on delayed transfer from care or hospital for people not yet ready to return to their own homes.

Furthermore, the report also urges councillors to reduce the age of eligibility for sheltered housing from 60 to 55, in line with local housing associations.

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