Public Services Management: Homes security warning

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The Independent Online
ONE IN FIVE of Greater London's 600 housing associations could be forced to merge or go out of operation because they cannot afford to protect their unoccupied properties, a security firm has warned.

A rising amount of damage claims occur because squatters and vandals take over or damage many association houses, left unoccupied while new tenants are being found, according to London-based Sitex Security Products, which fits security windows and doors to empty properties owned by local authorities and housing associations.

Andrew Mapstone of Sitex says: 'Providing adequate protection for empty property to prevent entry by squatters and vandals is being seen more by senior managers in the housing association arena as a cost-effective method of reducing overheads.'

IT COSTS two-and-a-half times more to subsidise tenants in the private rented sector than in the public, says the London Housing Unit. Because of increasing private rents the average cost of housing benefit to tenants of private landlords is pounds 2,500, compared with pounds 1,000 for council tenants, it says, adding that pounds 3bn is being spent per year on keeping private rentals at artificially high levels.