In order to reduce the amount of paperwork printed for this meeting, in line with the Council’s commitments in the Carbon Reduction Plan, the Executive Committee have agreed that only the covering report for this item will be printed in the main agenda for this meeting. A small number of paper copies of the full report, including the appendices, will be printed and the entire report can be accessed online.
This report will be pre-scrutinised at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scheduled to take place on 16th March 2023. Any recommendations on this subject arising from that meeting will be published in a supplementary pack for the Executive Committee’s consideration.
The Head of Community and Housing Services introduced the Housing Policies report for Members’ consideration. Members were advised that changes were proposed to various housing policies in the report to ensure that the Council remained compliant with best practice. There were varying amounts of discretion available to the Council in relation to the content of these housing policies, although there were also a lot of specific legislative requirements that applied to the delivery of Housing Services which the Council needed to comply with.
During consideration of this item, Officers from the Housing Department delivered a presentation that provided further information about the updates to the various housing policies for Members’ consideration. In addition, information was provided on the subject of the updated Tenancy Management Policy and Tenancy Management Agreement and Members were advised that, whilst the latter document did not need to be presented, Officers had wanted to consult with Members on the content. The proposed changes to both of these documents would subsequently be subject to consultation in a two-stage process with local tenants and each tenant would be provided with a paper copy of the policy as part of this process.
Once the report had been presented, Members discussed the following points in detail:
· The significant amount of work that had been undertaken by Officers in preparing the report. Members thanked Officers for their hard work in respect of this matter.
· The value of the Council’s housing stock in providing social housing to some of the most vulnerable residents in society.
· The increasing demand for social housing in a cost of living crisis.
· The need for the Council to provide support to tenants whilst also protecting and preserving the Council’s housing stock.
· The benefits to both tenants and the Council of clarifying the respective rights and obligations of both Council tenants and the Council as landlord.
· The need for the Council to ensure compliance with safety standards for Council properties.
· The arrangements by which Officers could access Council houses where needed, such as to undertake gas maintenance inspections.
· The need to protect Council houses from malicious damage that could be caused by tenants. Members noted that the tenants who caused such damage were in the minority.
· The potential for tenants to be incentivised, where appropriate, to downsize, thereby providing larger properties for the use of families.
· The extent to which tenants would be required to acknowledge receipt of their copy of the Tenancy Management Policy. Officers clarified that copies of the policy would be posted to tenants and tenants would not be required to acknowledge receipt. A similar approach had been taken at other local authorities and this approach was considered to be reasonable.
· The action that would be taken to ensure that responses received to the consultation in respect of the Tenancy Management Agreement and Tenancy Management Policy were not submitted by the same person from the same IP address multiple times. Officers explained that an email address had been created for consultation purposes and Officers could ... view the full minutes text for item 142