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Downsizing Incentive Scheme (for Council tenants)

You can download our leaflet 'Downsizing Incentive Scheme for Moray Council Tenants' (PDF logo, 15 pages, 130KB).

What is the Downsizing Incentive Scheme?

The Downsizing Incentive Scheme is a scheme introduced to support Council tenants who live in housing that is now too big for their needs to help them move to a smaller house by offering practical and financial help.  It is a voluntary scheme.   This means that you do not have to move if you don’t want to.   

Our aim is not just to help people wanting to transfer to a smaller house but also to release properties that are in the highest demand in areas of greatest need.

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Why would I want to move to a smaller home?

You may want to downsize because your current home is too big for you.  You may find it easier to maintain and pay the bills in a smaller home.

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How can I apply to downsize?

If you are interested, please contact us (our contact details are on the left side of this page).  We will ask you to confirm some basic details, including if you have filled in a housing transfer application form. 

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What are the criteria?

You may qualify if you:

  • are a Moray Council tenant;
  • live in a three or more bedroom council property (flat, maisonette, bungalow or house);
  • want to move to a smaller property.  This does not have to be the same type as your current home;
  • under occupy your home by at least one bedroom;
  • have a satisfactory tenancy report that shows that:
    • your home meets our standards;
    • we are not taking antisocial behaviour action against you; and
    • you do not have unmanageable housing related debt;
  • your current home is in an area of demand and we can easily relet it.

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Are there any circumstances when I would not qualify?

In certain circumstances you may not be eligible for the scheme.  These include:

  • if you do not live in a three or more bedroom property;
  • if the property that you live in is not in an area of demand and we will not be able to easily relet it;
  • if the type of property that you live in is not in demand and we will not be able to easily relet it;
  • if you do not have a clear rent account or do not have an agreement in place to clear any arrears;
  • if an inspection of your property, that would be carried out as part of this scheme, proves to be unsatisfactory;
  • if we have recently taken action against you or members of your household because of antisocial behaviour; or
  • there is no funding left.

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Do I have to fill in a housing application?

Yes.  If you have not filled in a housing application form, you will need to fill one in.  If you have already filled in a housing application form, you are probably on our waiting list and will not need to fill in another form.  We will check this when you contact us.

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Do I need to downsize to the same area or could I move to another area?

You do not need to apply for the same area where you live but it must be in Moray.  If a smaller property that meets your housing needs (as decided by our Allocations Policy) is available in an area of your preference, we may be able to make you an offer in this area.

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How many offers can I have?

The scheme works along with our Allocations Policy. That means you will be given two reasonable offers that take your preferences into account.  If you refuse these offers within a period of one year, we will not make any other offers of accommodation to you for six months from the date of your last offer.  Refusing an offer of housing because you did not get a grant under the scheme will not be considered a reasonable reason.

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Can I be sure that I will get help?

We will always try and give you practical help.  However, funding for this scheme is limited.  You will get the financial help:

  • if you are eligible; and
  • if there is still money available in the budget.

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How will you consider my application?

If you have registered an interest in the scheme, we will review your housing application and assess your eligibility. 

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If I am successful, what practical help will I get?

Depending on your circumstances and needs, we can help you with the following:

  • giving you information and advice about the downsizing scheme;
  • filling in forms;
  • viewings and removal arrangements;
  • arranging to disconnect/reconnect utilities etc;
  • notifying agencies of your change of address, GP, Bank etc;
  • helping you to arrange and dispose of unwanted furniture; and
  • giving you information about Housing Benefit, money advice and making the most of your income.

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What happens if I get an offer of housing?

We will:

  • allocate you a named officer who will give you practical advice and assistance; and
  • tell you about the additional help that we can offer you.  For example, your named officer can also help you fill in any forms and help you through the sign up process. 

If you accept an offer of housing you will also be expected to confirm that you are giving up your current tenancy and you must sign a form to agree to this.  This means that you and any members of your household must move out of your property and return the keys to your local area office.  Any relatives, friends or lodgers who stay with you will not be granted permission to take over this tenancy.

Your named officer will provide you with more information about this before you sign up for your new tenancy.  

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What if I have a lot of furniture that I don’t need?

If you have furniture that you won’t need in your new home, then we can give you information and signpost you to agencies that can help you.  We can also help with arranging to dispose of it. 

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How much financial assistance can I get?

If you qualify for the scheme and there is funding left, you will get a basic payment of £1500.  In addition, we will give you £400 for each bedroom that you give up.  For example, if you move from a 4 bedroom house to a two bedroom house you will be entitled to:

  £1500 basic grant
+ £800 (£400 per bedroom given up)
= £2300 grant  awarded

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What if I owe you money?

If you owe money, for example, due to outstanding rent arrears or rechargeable repairs, we will deduct this from the amount that you are due to get and will pay you the difference.

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When will I get the financial incentive?

We will arrange for a payment to be made within 14 days of signing your tenancy agreement.  (Remember if you are paid by cheque, your bank will take additional time to process the cheque).

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What if I do not have a bank account?

If you do not have a bank account, you can suggest someone else who has a bank account to get a cheque on your behalf.  This can be arranged when you sign your tenancy agreement.

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What happens to my right to buy?

The right to buy rules are complicated.  If you end your tenancy, it means that your entitlement to a discount and qualifying period may change.   Because of this, you should think very carefully before moving from your home and make sure that you get advice.

If you want more details on this, please ask us for our leaflet on Right to Buy or click here

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What happens if I change my mind about moving?

Remember this is a voluntary scheme and you do not need to move unless you choose to do so.  If you change your mind about moving just get in contact with your named officer as soon as possible.  They will tell you if you need to do anything else.

It’s also important that you keep your named officer up to date with any changes in your circumstances.

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What happens if I move again after I have used the downsizing scheme?

If you end your tenancy within 12 months of getting a grant, you must repay the money that you received, unless there are exceptional circumstances.  You will only get a downsizing grant once.

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What are my rights to appeal?

If you are not satisfied with a decision made under the Downsizing Incentive Scheme: 

  • In the first instance, you should write to the Housing Services Manager within 28 days of getting your decision.
  • If you are still not satisfied with the decision, you can have the decision reviewed by a panel of people who were not involved with the original decision. For more information, please contact us.

The Council operates a Complaints Procedure that is available to any applicant who is not satisfied with the way in which an application has been dealt with.Contact us for more information. 

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More information

If you want more information on the downsizing incentive scheme, please contact us (our details are in the left hand side of this page).

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