Keeley Johnson, Tenancy Services Manager;
a. presented a report to update Members on the current position regarding tenancy sustainment within Tenancy Services
b. advised that Tenancy sustainment continued to be a key priority for City of Lincoln Council (CoLC); the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent increase in the cost of living had seen and increased need to provide tenants with essential support
c. highlighted that:
· Sustaining tenancies had long been important for social landlords wishing to not only maximise income into the housing revenue account but also to maximise tenant’s income.
· We aimed to allow tenants to thrive in their homes and reduce the risk of tenancies failing.
· Evictions on average costed between £7,000 and £10,000 without including any further temporary accommodation costs which could be in the region of £140 a night for a family should B&B be required.
· With the increasing numbers of homelessness and pressure on the housing register, there had never been a higher need to sustain tenancies and stabilise communities.
d. explained that in April 2022 three Housing Officers on two-year contracts were created, dedicated to working on our sustainment objectives, split into four phases as detailed at paragraph 3 of her report as follows:
· Phase 1 - Pre tenancy support for vulnerable tenants
· Phase 2 - Roll-out of referrals to any tenant at risk of enforcement action
· Phase 3 - All general referrals accepted for any tenant experiencing some type of hardship
· Phase 4 - Forming strong relationships with the third sector
f. presented figures on the current position regarding sustainment of tenancies and enforcement action; eviction used only as a last resort, together with information on arrears and benchmarking as detailed within the officer’s report
g. highlighted that members were not being asked to agree the three posts to be added to the establishment as this required a business case to be prepared to carry forward this process
h. requested that members note the actions to support tenants in order to improve levels of tenancy sustainment.
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail.
Mick Barber, Chair of LTP gave credit to the work of the Tenancy Team.
· Question: Were referrals for accommodation made to other private housing providers e.g. Framework, Eden Housing Association?
· Response: Yes this was the case.
· Question: Was the pre tenancy support offered to vulnerable tenants voluntary or compulsory?
· Response: This type of support was not compulsory as the council could not force tenants to engage. It was only a small number of tenants that needed this support, however, a minority of cases could take up a huge amount of time. There were no causes for concern in this area.
· Question: At what point in the process did officers approach tenants to ask whether they required any pre-tenancy support?
· Response: This was done by telephone or letter prior to the tenancy contract being signed. This allowed this dedicated resource to be prioritised according to need before the tenancy was taken up. The Allocations Team also offered assistance.
Members praised the work of the Tenancy Sustainment Team in assisting residents in maintaining their tenancies.
RESOLVED that the content of the presentation and discussions held be noted.