Manju Dhar Private sector housing Manager Slough Borough Council 13 th October 2010
It is generally accepted that decent affordable housing is a key component in achieving cohesive and sustainable communities which are part of a good society Regardless of politics Housing has been identified as a cross cutting priority and is reflected in a number of national and local indicators. They clearly illustrate the benefit and contribution that access to safe affordable housing can make to the lives of the residents of a area.
Housing Stock New Stock Planning Process Private development Social Housing Registered social landlords Local authority owned stock Private Stock Owner occupied Privately rented Owned by recognised establishments
English House Condition survey 2007 In 2007, 7.7 million homes were non-decent, just under 35 per cent of the housing stock. This included 1.1 million homes in the social sector. The Registered Social Landlord (RSL) stock was in the best condition and the private rented sector worst. Only 26 per cent of RSL homes were non-decent compared to 45 per cent of privately rented accommodation. Social tenants were more likely to live in decent homes than other tenure groups (72 per of social tenants compared to 66 per cent of home owners, and 54 per cent of privately renting tenants). Since 1996, the energy efficiency of homes has steadily improved from an average SAP rating of 42 in 1996 to 50 in 2007. Social housing remains on average more energy efficient than privately owned homes, with 21 per cent of its stock achieving the highest Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) Bands compared to 10 per cent of privately rented accommodation and only 4 per cent of owner occupied properties.
Information that the councils has to help them to produce a work programmes that enables them to monitor quality and standards within their borough: 1.Stock surveys – own stock and also private sector 2.Historical information 3.Customer consultation and feedback 4.Method of procurement 5.Adherence to Audit commission standards – Key lines of Enquiry for each service area – Strategic housing, council housing and private sector housing 6.Availability of funding 7.Local priorities
New stock Control quality, quantity and standards of stock though the planning process Control on types of housing being built Planning controls in place for new housing estates/developers as well as small scale private developments e.g. extensions Lifetimes homes
Social Housing Local Authority owned Housing Council is the landlord and has control of its stock and is responsible for repairs and maintance funded from Housing Revenue account Has to compile with a whole range of legislation which allows the council as a landlord to do or not to certain things e.g.. Set rent level, what can be borrowed to fund capital programmes, tenants consultation and participation in the decision making process Has also to be able to prove value for money and there is a high level of control on the awarding of contracts and quality is underwritten in all of the specifications that are produced
Social housing Registered Social landlords Work closely with the council to provide the type and standard of housing needed by the council Have duties to provide services to set standards and have in place processes and procedures to deal with repairs, customer complaints, financial monitoring etc.
Generally Council’s have a Procurement Strategy which is key in providing better, more reliable and responsive services and in ensuring value for money within the framework of Best Value and continuous improvement. Efficiencies in procurement are fundamental in meeting the external constraints brought about by immediate, substantial and unavoidable pressures. This includes following the rules and regulations and best practice in procurement in order to deliver best value from procurement activity and also has to be a transparent process and ensure compliance with procurement best practice and legislative Procurement
Monitor and act upon non compliance to corporate contracts Identify opportunities for new corporate contracts Identify areas for increased collaborative procurement with other public bodies, including both local authorities and other local “partners
Procurement A good Procurement process continues to encourage and monitor contractors to reduce all unnecessary waste re-use and to recycle wherever possible. Request new developments and innovation by contractors to reduce waste, energy and water consumption; to only use raw materials where possible from renewable resources and to support economic sustainability. Where sustainability proposals are considered to be directly relevant to the contract they will be included in the criteria used for tender evaluation
Procurement Ensures that contractors meet Health & Safety standards in all products and services that are purchased and that they meet the relevant safety Regulations and standards. Incorporate and set any quality standards that are relevant to the contract and service area
Private housing Local authorities have long had powers to intervene in order to control and seek too improve housing conditions in their area. The principal mechanism has been through the concept of unfitness. The term “unfit for human habitation “ dates back to the Artisans and labourers Dwellings Act 1868 The term meant not “in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation “ otherwise unqualified until 1954 and in use till the Housing Act 2004. The 2004 act replaced the unfitness definition with the Housing, Health and safety rating system which is the new approach to the evaluation of the potential risk to the health and safety from any deficiencies identified in the dwellings
Private Housing Local housing authorities must keep the housing conditions in their area under review with a view to identifying any actions that may need to be taken by them under any provision of the Housing Act 2004 Range of options that the council has include: 1.Demolition and slum clearance orders 2.Declaration of clearance and renewal areas 3.Deal with empty homes 4.Range of enforcement options and intervention for the privately rented sector 5.Polices to help owners occupiers, in particular those who are disabled
Privately Rented Housing In general ranges of powers and duties include: Have duty to take action in the cases where there are category 1 hazards Licensing of all Houses in Multiple occupation which are 3 storeys, shared by 5 people or more and who share faculties Introduced Licensing for 2 storeys HMOs appropriate Serve a range of notices on landlords to improve their rented properties: 1.Hazard awareness notices 2.Power to serve Improvement notices 3.Power to make a prohibition order 4.Power to make a demolition order 5.Power to carry out emergency remedial works 6.Power to revoke or suspended notices
Private owners Most local authorities have a range of services available in terms of financial assistance, help and advise to help owners to maintain their homes or to adapt their homes suitable for their needs
Private Owners - Home improvement Agency services (HIAs) The main services provided by the HIAs are in assisting private sector clients who wish to apply for home improvement grants from the Council. These grants include Disabled Facilities, Minor Works, Renovation and Landlord Grants. And facilitating aids and adaptations works for disabled public sector tenants. This involves: Assisting clients with their grant application, Liaising on the applicant's behalf with the various authorities, contractors and professionals involved, Advising on such matters as the financing of any costs not met by the grant, Involvement in any discussions between the statutory authorities and the applicant, Conducting a survey of the property and, Overseeing the work in progress
Private owners –HIA’s – Quality Mark Standard The Quality Mark Scheme is administered by Foundations, the National Co-coordinating Body for HIAs in England. It provides a recognized way for the quality assessment of the services provided by Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) The quality mark is an independent inspection of the HIA and reassures all that the services are provided for people in need in a way that is fair, sensitive and provides value for money. There are 227 HIAs in England and around 38% have the Quality mark.
Audit commission – Key lines of Enquiry ( KLOE) Each KLOE is divided into sections that consider areas such as : Access, customer care and user focus Diversity PS stock condition and housing need data The strategic approach How effectively is the Council tackling poor conditions in the private sector Value for money Six different areas to assess where we are compared to the fair or excellence standard
WHAT ARE WE TO DO ABOUT “SLOUGH SHEDS?” SLOUGH BOROUGH COUNCIL
WHAT ARE THEY? A “Slough Shed” is a structure, used for sleeping purposes usually constructed from blocks & bricks, built in the curtilage of a property. They rarely benefit from planning permission and those that do only have permission for a usage other than sleeping. Historical evidence indicates that the majority of these buildings are being rented to tenants and that many are built in the gardens of “Houses in Multiple Occupation” (HMO)
WHERE ARE THEY? “Slough Sheds” can be found throughout the borough however the highest concentrations are found in a few a wards
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THEM? THESE STRUCTURES GENERALLY HAVE: NO PLANNING PERMISSION FOR THEIR USEAGE See Barristers opinion Some have permission for use as a Gym NO BUILDING REGULATIONS CONSENT Including utilities THE MAJORITY CONTAIN “CATEGORY 1 HAZARDS” Mainly excess cold
MANY OF THE TENANTS ARE: MIGRANT WORKERS people on low income I VULNERABLE PERSONS WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THEM?
THEY ARE SUB STANDARD ACCOMMODATION THEY BLIGHT OUR TOWN THEY ATTRACT ILLEGAL ACTIVITY -Including Benefit fraud & Council Tax evasion THEY ARE ILLEGAL STRUCTURES -Recent Barristers opinion
SO WHAT CAN BE DONE? REGULARISE PLANNING PERMISSION Require planning applications for these structures Where permission is subsequently granted: IMPROVE Serve notice to remove all category 1 hazards Serve notice to prohibit/Limit occupation Require the structure meets current building regulations Where permission is subsequently refused: DEMOLISH And Re-charge the landlord PERSUE THE LANDLORD FOR PROCEDES OF CRIME
WHAT ARE OUR AIMS & OBJECTIVES? Ensure Compliance with the Law Tenants and structure Keep Residents Safe Free from “category 1 Hazards Free from exploitatation Help Prevent Further Such Developments Send out a message
WHO WILL BE INVOLVED ? Police: Intelligence, Access, Manpower Border Agency: Intelligence, Manpower Local Fire Authority: Advice Planning: Confirm planning status, Access, Regularise, Enforce removal Benefit Fraud: Intelligence, Pursue “Proceeds of Crime”, Manpower Building Control: Pursue compliance with regulations for those to be regularised Private Sector Housing: Coordinate project, Gather & Collate intelligence, Enforce standards on those to be regularised, Manpower. Homeless Team: Robust lines of referral/temporary housing Children & Families: Robust lines of referral People 1 st : Intelligence, enforce remedy Council Tax: Intelligence, pursue council tax irregularities Community Wardens: Intelligence, Manpower Legal, Advice, enforcement
PRE-INSPECTION Establish the project team Arrange interpreters Clarify the teams roles and responsibilities Pre inspection Inspection Post inspection Gather intelligence on properties and occupants Want to know what we will find there Clear plan of action Properties inspected are those with specific problems Set up system of referrals Social Services Homeless The Provision of advice and other practical help Tenants and landlords Select Addresses /Residents to be targeted Ensure that there is something for everyone
THE INSPECTIONS Inspect the maximum number resources permit. Same Area Same Time Confirm occupation. Interview residents Obtain evidence admissible in court Determine extent of non compliance Of structure Of residents Process residents. Arrest Referral
POST INSPECTIONS: “Best course of action” Do Planning want to regularise? YesNo Ensure compliance with Building Regulations Ensure no “Category 1” Hazards (PSH) Pursue any Council Tax arrears Enforcement action (Planning) Pursue ” proceeds of crime” (Legal & Fraud) Pursue all criminal activity e.g. mortgage fraud, licensable HMO’s, money laundering, people trafficking, immigration offences, prostitution. Police, Fraud team, Border agency etc
POST INSPECTION Monitor Key members to meet after each series of inspections Each section to keep PSH advised of enforcement progress Evaluate Quality of intelligence Success of inspections Success of enforcement measures Improve Process Method of working etc
WHAT WILL THE BENEFITS BE OF THIS PROJECT ? Improvement in the health of the tenants Improvement in the living conditions of the tenants Reduction in crime Improvement in future compliance Experience of multi-agency working Help to achieve the aims of the migration bid Help redress street scene “area blight”
Improving the quality of housing Local authorities have a range of options both legally and locally to improve housing conditions in their area and each local authority will use the range depending on local conditions and need