Appendix 2 attached.
The Environmental Services Manager presented a report which proposed the introduction of a Tenancy Recharge Policy for the Council. This policy needed to be considered in conjunction with the Tenancy Agreement and new Tenants’ Handbook. The aim of the policy was to rebalance the relationship between the Council, which had specific legal responsibilities as a landlord, and tenants living in Council Houses so that tenants took on some responsibilities. The policy would apply in cases where tenants had wilfully caused damage to Council property and would enable the authority to charge the tenant for repair work in those cases. Officers had consulted with tenants about the proposed policy and the feedback that had been received to date in respect of this matter had been largely positive. An equality impact assessment had also been undertaken and Officers had concluded in this assessment that the introduction of the policy would not result in discrimination against residents.
Following presentation of the report Members discussed a number of points in detail:
· The introduction of the policy would ensure that Council tenants took on some responsibilities for maintaining their Council property in a similar manner to residents who lived in private rented accommodation in the Borough.
· The fee that would be charged would only need to cover the cost of the repair works and would not be designed to generate a profit.
· Concerns were raised about the potential that some tenants would be penalised for wear and tear in a property. Officers explained that the policy would not be applied in those circumstances and the Repairs and Maintenance team would be able to identify malicious damage as opposed to wear and tear.
· Further concerns were raised about the amount of consultation that had been undertaken with tenants in respect of this matter.
· The lack of inclusion of a right of an appeal in the policy was also raised as a concern. Officers explained that fourth-tier managers would determine whether the tenant should be recharged for work under the policy. The tenant could make a complaint to the Council about the application of the policy where this was considered inappropriate and that would provide an opportunity for the decision to be reviewed by senior officers.
· The cases in which the Council would not apply a recharge, despite being eligible to do so under the policy, were briefly discussed. Officers explained that this could occur if the tenant died during the tenancy or in cases where the tenant could prove that they had been the victim of criminal damage.
· Members noted that many Redditch residents were on low incomes or in receipt of benefit payments and the potential for the recharge fee to be waived for residents in this position was raised. Officers explained that there would need to be an assessment on a case by case basis, though the tenant’s financial circumstances could be taken into account as part of this process.
· Concerns were raised that some tenants might be charged for electrical tests, which were ... view the full minutes text for item 49