Agenda item

Accessing the Private Rented Sector for Temporary & Permanent Accommodation

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, which was approved by the Cabinet on 7th November 2018, which revised incentives to be made to landlords to secure referrals from the local authority to prevent or relieve homelessness.

Minutes:

121.1              Councillor Watkins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, provided an overview of the report. She stated that there would be an opportunity to review the scheme. She further stated that it was already working well and praised officers for their expertise.

 

121.2              Councillor Watkins advised that she wanted to reassure landlords of where support could be accessed and for financial incentives. She stated that the Council would be looking to expand the scheme and that there would be a review and changes made where necessary.

 

121.3              Councillor Pullen shared his view that what was in issue was a lack of housing stock but that the incentives outlined were helpful. He stated that numerous landlords were reluctant to deal with those who may have complex needs and queried what would be done to change such attitudes.

 

 121.4             Councillor Watkins stated that having a relationship between the Council and landlords first was key. She further stated that some landlords had had poor experiences with a minority of tenants.

 

121.5              Councillor Haigh stated that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was insufficient to source necessary property. With regard to the one off fee being offered to landlords, she queried the possibility of there being attempts by other authorities to undercut the Council with higher fees. Councillor Haigh also referred to a bond being held by the Council (rather than in a deposit scheme) and questioned what position this would leave tenants in respect of their recourse to law if necessary. The Corporate Director stated that it would be preferable to examine how it operates in practice and review the scheme in due course.

 

121.6              In response to the Chair’s noting that there was scope to alter the scheme as power had been delegated, Councillor Watkins stated that it was necessary to balance the need to source housing and to attract landlords.

 

121.7              Councillor Hilton shared his understanding that the scheme would help some residents but not all. He stated that both landlords and tenants should be consulted when the review is undertaken.

 

On the motion of the Chair, and in accordance with the Constitution, the Committee resolved that the meeting be extended beyond two hours.

 

121.8              With reference to point 4 of paragraph 3.7, Councillor Wilson queried whether rental values would change after twelve months and further queried whether landlords may want different tenants. Councillor Watkins stated that in building relationships with landlords, their recognition of the positive impact they could have was hoped.

 

121.9              Councillor Hampson shared his view that the rental estimates of properties were conservative and that the incentives were insufficient. He noted that two thirds of homelessness was as a result of eviction from private sector housing and suggested that a better incentive would be a form of guaranteed rent scheme. Councillor Watkins queried whether such an insurance based scheme would guarantee the whole rental value.

 

121.10            Councillor Hampson suggested that some of the optional aspects of the scheme were not strong and stated that they were matters which landlords already had available.

 

121.11            Councillor Toleman stated that he was keen to see people being moved into private sector housing. He highlighted that some levied a service charge and that some residents were unable to pay this due to delays in receiving Universal Credit payments.  He queried whether there was a support mechanism to redress this.

 

121.12            Councillor Watkins highlighted that Discretionary Housing Payments were available and that the Council was working with people in relation to budgeting and maximisation of income.

 

121.13            Council Haigh proposed the following recommendation: With reference to paragraph 3.7 of the report that point (5) – ‘           Optional - Offer a free property inspection so we can make sure your property complies with rental regulations, such as health and safety; the availability of free advice and information relating to tenancy management or maintaining the property in compliance with regulations’ be amended to replace ‘Optional’ with ‘Compulsory’.

 

121.14            The recommendation was put to the vote and was carried.

 

121.15            Councillor Haigh proposed the following recommendation: That the optional materials cited at points 6, 7 and 8 of paragraph 3.7 be provided as a matter of course.

 

121.16            The recommendation was put to the vote and was carried.

 

121.17            Councillor Wilson proposed the following recommendation: That, upon the expiration of the ‘bridging period’ (paras 3.5 and 3.7), efforts are undertaken to ascertain whether the tenant has remained in the property.

 

121.18            The recommendation was put to the vote and was carried.

 

121.19            Councillor Hilton proposed the following recommendation: That during a review in twelve months’ time, both landlords and tenants are consulted on the operation and delivery of the scheme.

 

121.20            The recommendation was put to the vote and was carried.

 

121.21            RESOLVED that: - The Overview and Scrutiny Committee note the report subject to the following recommendations: The Overview and Scrutiny Committee RECOMMEND that (1) With reference to paragraph 3.7 of the report that point (5) – Optional - Offer a free property inspection so we can make sure your property complies with rental regulations, such as health and safety; the availability of free advice and information relating to tenancy management or maintaining the property in compliance with regulations’ be amended to replace ‘Optional’ with ‘Compulsory’; (2) That the optional materials cited at points 6, 7 and 8 of paragraph 3.7 be provided as a matter of course; (3) That, upon the expiration of the ‘bridging period’ (paras 3.5 and 3.7), efforts are undertaken to ascertain whether the tenant has remained in the property and; (4) That during a review in twelve months’ time, both landlords and tenants are consulted on the operation and delivery of the scheme.

Supporting documents:

 

 
 
facebook
twitter
rss feed