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Watford Borough Council considers plans to change criteria for social housing
Watford politicians are mulling over plans to tighten up the criteria for people wanting social housing in the town.
Links to Watford and the state of current living arrangements could help determine whether applicants for social housing are successful in the future.
Residents can currently take part in an online survey to have their say on who they think should be given priority for housing in the borough.
Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, has said a "massive shortage" of housing has prompted the borough council to review its policy.
More than 5,500 people are currently on Watford’s housing register and only 282 properties became available last year.
With current demand vastly outstripping supply the council said it needs to make sure it is making the best use of the few properties available.
Mayor Thornhill said: "There is a massive shortage of housing in Watford, so we need to make sure our policy is right - that those in greatest need are the ones that get the social housing.
"It's an emotive subject so we welcome everyone's views. This isn't just a survey for those on the housing register."
The council does not own any social homes after it sold its housing stock to Watford Community Housing Trust in 2007.
However, the council does keep a list of people who have applied for housing association homes - known as the housing register. It also has a policy which decides who should be given priority on this list.
Although the town’s housing policy is partly decided by the council’s legal obligations politicians do have some room to change it.
In the online survey residents are being asked if people should only be allowed to join the housing register if they live or work or have close family in the borough.
The survey also asks if people with who can afford to rent or buy in Watford should be excluded from the list.
Neighbouring Dacorum Borough Council is also looking at plans to weight social housing applications in favour of people with links to the area.
The authority, which oversees Kings Langley, is considering limiting applicants to people who have lived, or whose family have lived in the area for 10 years, or who have been employed in the borough for at least two years.
However in Dacorum the stricter criteria will not be applied to people over 60 applying for sheltered accommodation or ex-servicemen and women who make an application within five years of their discharge.
Watford residents wanting to take part in the social housing survey have until Monday April 1.
Everyone who completes the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Harlequin voucher. The survey can be found here (www.surveymonkey.com/s/JN5GRPX).