Housing shortage for Barnstaple tenants?

A North Devon councillor says he fears there could be a crisis shortage in temporary accommodation as 38 Forches tenants face the prospect of becoming homeless.

They are currently on assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) but are in the process of receiving two month’s notice as North Devon Homes needs the properties they were living in as part of its Forches Regeneration scheme.

Councillor Rodney Cann was alerted to the issue and says he is worried there will not be enough accommodation in the private sector to cope with the sudden demand.

But the housing association and North Devon Council have said they are working with each tenant to tackle the problem.

“The council is working with the affected tenants to help them find alternative housing and avoid them being placed into temporary accommodation,” said Barbara Venn, housing strategy and public health manager at the council.

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A North Devon Homes spokesperson said it had been clearly understood at the beginning that at some point each AST tenant would have to hand back possession of the dwelling.

The association intends to refurbish or rebuild the whole Forches estate in a series of stages and it needs the properties in question to either demolish and make way for new homes, or serve as temporary accommodation for permanent tenants whose own homes are being redeveloped.

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“It appears to have been undertaken with the best of intentions but it could create a problem for the future and a matter of concern for people suddenly finding themselves without a home,” said Cllr Cann.

“There is a question whether the private sector will be able to cope with the numbers. I think the council should have foreseen the likely problems ahead when those houses were required again.”

By the end of March the association will have served 28 notices to quit, with the final tenants involved expect to vacate the properties by the end of May.

A joint statement from Stephen Snooks, Regeneration Project Manager at North Devon Homes and Barbara Venn, said:

“North Devon Homes is offering discretionary payments of up to �1,300 to these tenants to help with renting advance and deposits to find alternative rented assured shorthold tenancies.

“The council is working with NDH and the affected tenants to help them find alternative housing. The council has dedicated an officer to be the single point of contact for all tenants and will work with each tenant individually.”

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