Agenda item

Portfolio Holder under Scrutiny - Quality Housing


Councillor Donald Nannestad, Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing:


a)    Presented a report which highlighted the following:

·         Homelessness

·         Tenancy Management

·         New Build/Allocations

·         Housing Improvement Programme

·         Housing Repairs

·         Supported Housing

·         Private Sector Housing

·         Health


b)    Invited member’s comments and questions.


Question: Members asked if the original tenants from De Wint Court got first refusal on the new housing once it was built.


Response: This option was being looked into. The existing building had not yet been demolished.


Question: Members asked whether we supported private landlords and whether help was given to tenants of private landlords who were not in a rogue landlord position but needed work to be carried out on a property.


Response: Accidental landlords that could not maintain properties were being investigated. There was a HMO Licensing Scheme which meant if the landlord became a trusted landlord they received a reduction on their licence fee.


Question: Members asked whether the HMO Licensing Scheme helped landlords who only owned one property.


Response: It would if they fell within the HMO criteria. The Accreditation Scheme was something that was being taken up. Private Landlords were offered free seminars to keep them up to date. The Rogue Landlord Scheme was a separate pot of money that was used to deal with the really bad landlords. The Rogue Landlord team should be looking into these types of cases but unfortunately the work had to be prioritised. If tenants were having problems with their landlord then they did need to approach the City Council. The law was on the tenant’s side which was really positive. Unfortunately Universal Credit had a massive impact on landlords meaning that some private landlords couldn’t take on Universal Credit tenants.


Question: Members asked whether we were duty bound to house homeless people that come from outside the City for 56 days.


Response: Tenants could come to us up to 56 days before they were to be made homeless so a plan could be put in place. If the tenant didn’t have a local connection then they would score lower and fall lower on the list.


Question: Members asked whether pressure could be put on shop owners to rent out the flats above to tenants on the housing register.


Response: There was a project that took place previously but there wasn’t much take up. Access to the flats could be a problem as well as fire regulations.


Question: Members asked whether there were any plans to use the housing revenue fund monies in the future and what opportunities there were for building council properties for example could RAF Scampton be used?


Response: Work was ongoing to understand the need for council housing in Lincoln. Some of the buildings at RAF Scampton were derelict. The HRA borrowing CAP gave a lot more opportunity and choices with how the money was spent. When houses were being built the community and place was looked at. Partner organisations were to be looked at to help bring affordable housing to the city. WGC had the prospect to give us a lot of opportunity with housing.


Question: Members asked what more could be done to reduce stress within housing and whether play park could be built in new build house areas to help reduce child obesity.


Response: The environmental budget was being looked into to see if it could be doubled. There were older workers in housing that suffered from musculo skeletal issues which didn’t help with stress levels. The Director of Housing was looking at the stress sickness levels to try and identify where the problems were and in what areas. There were issues within the Housing Solutions Team and a lot of work had taken place to help alleviate the issues. The Housing Solutions Office was a very stressful place to work due to the nature of the work and the tenants’ problems that were dealt with on a day to day basis.


Question: Members asked what complications were in the application process for the housing list.


Response: The process was being reviewed by The Assistant Director of Housing to make the process easier.


Question: Members asked for an explanation for the re-letting target date figures and asked if council tenants could still house swap.


Response: Target figures for the City of Lincoln Council were a lot tighter than other councils. The figure shown started from when the keys were handed to the next tenant. Some targets couldn’t be met due to other aspects, for example the Police used one of our flats for surveillance which meant any repairs couldn’t be carried out and the property couldn’t be re-let. Mutual exchange did still take place.


Question: Members asked if they could have training on the statutory legislation for when they were attending ward surgeries and whether the Rogue Landlord Scheme could be replicated, even in a small way when the funding disappeared.


Response: Training could be arranged on the statutory legislation. The Rogue Landlord Scheme would continue to work and other funding resources were being looked into.


Question: Members asked whether the ‘council owned’ building firm was still being set up.


Response: The situation had changed. There was a CAP in place for borrowing. There were a number of things that were being looked at but the work of the Housing Solutions Team was the main focus.


RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted.

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