Only people who have lived in Waltham Forest for more than five years could join the housing register under new policy proposals that also mean more teenagers would have to share rooms.

Waltham Forest Council is reviewing its housing allocation scheme for council and housing association properties and hopes to have the new rules finalised by April.

There are more than 9,000 applicants on the housing register but only around 600 properties, most of which have only one bedroom.

A report presented to the housing scrutiny committee on February 12 proposed five changes to the current system.

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The most controversial of these would mean “two people of the same gender and generation should be required to share a bedroom regardless of their age”.

Currently, children aged 16 or over are entitled to their own room - and 38 per cent of responders to the council’s online survey last year disagreed or strongly disagreed with the change.

The report explained: “While we recognise that in an ideal world, teenage children would have their own bedrooms, we feel that it is unlikely that many owner-occupiers would expect to move to a larger property when their older children turn 16.”

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Other changes, all largely positively received, including stopping those who have lived in the area for less than five years from joining the housing register, unless they are an exceptional case.

Exceptions include the homeless, those fleeing domestic violence, members of the armed forces and care leavers.

Those who have to urgently leave their property for domestic violence or hate crime reasons will automatically be given a home of the same type and size under the new system, “unless there is evidence that this will disadvantage them”.

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Other proposed changes aim to make the allocation system clearer and more flexible.

The priority system will be simplified into five bands of need. The report adds “applicants will be told what band they are in” and priority within each band “will be based on waiting time only”.

If the proposed changes are passed by its cabinet, the council, which currently gives priority to a number of vulnerable people nominated by certain groups or organisations, will also review these groups annually to ensure they are still in the most need.

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