‘Speed dating’ for tenants looks to find them perfect home

County council grant aims to reduce household waste

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QUESTIONS normally asked at a speed dating event are likes, dislikes, hobbies and where you like to go on holiday.

But all the queries yesterday were about number of bedrooms, kitchen sizes and what floor you live on.

HOUSE HUNTING Tenant Hayley Checksfield looks for a potential house swap with housing options officer Billy Dyne. Picture: Allan Hutchings (131645-132)

HOUSE HUNTING Tenant Hayley Checksfield looks for a potential house swap with housing options officer Billy Dyne. Picture: Allan Hutchings (131645-132)

The drop-in event in Portsmouth city centre was about tenants meeting up and talking about swapping homes.

It was organised by Portsmouth City Council, together with four local housing associations, in the wake of the bedroom tax.

Introduced by the government two months ago, people on housing benefits now have to pay extra if they under-occupy a property.

Elaine Bastable, the housing options manager at Portsmouth City Council, explained: ‘This is the first event we have organised specifically around exchanges.

‘The driver behind it was that there are a lot of social housing tenants who are looking for smaller accommodation at the moment because of the impact of the welfare reforms.

‘As a council, we currently have about 1,300 householders who are affected.’

Mrs Bastable said many families were forced to pay an extra £14 a week if they have a spare bedroom.

‘If that’s income and what you live on, then £14 a week is a lot of money,’ she said.

‘Lots of people are either going to have to move or budget.’

Dozens of tenants visited the event, held at Chaucer House, in Isambard Brunel Road, Southsea.

One of them was Hayley Checksfield, 38, who lives in Kings Road, Southsea, with her partner Mark Fisher, 53. They are looking for a bigger place.

She is looking to benefit from the welfare reforms as many tenants want to downsize.

She said: ‘We are really struggling to find a two-bedroom home.

‘We have a one-bedroom ground floor flat and a young baby and she really needs a room of her own.

‘We have been down to the council and they said you just go on the waiting list.

‘Today I have got lots of numbers of people who want a ground floor flat.

‘There’s a house in Reginald Road that I quite like. This is a brilliant idea. They should have done it a long time ago.’

Although no physical exchanges were made, tenants made contacts and were shown how to use the Home Swapper website.

Mrs Bastable said: ‘We are looking at employment opportunities for people.

‘If they have a wage coming in they might be able to afford to stay where they are.’