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that the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 18 February 2021, be
received and approved as a correct record.
The Chairman welcomed Members to the meeting and reminded the Panel that the Tenancy Support review topic had been introduced at the February 2021 meeting. Following initial discussions, the Panel had focussed on the cessation of the eviction ban which had initially come into force during the height of the pandemic, and how the Council would offer support to those tenants being evicted from private sector households and looking for new accommodation.
The previous meeting had been extremely informative and Members had access to the Council’s Service Manager, Housing Management & Tenancy Services, Nicky Moss and the Service Manager, Strategic Housing & Lettings, Phil Warrington, who were present at the meeting and who contributed fully to the initial discussions.
The Scrutiny Research Officer gave an overview of the content of the report presented to Members which included:
· baseline data in relation to tenancy rent arrears and homelessness
· the rights and responsibilities of tenants (through their tenancies) and landlords
· the latest situation regarding the ban on evictions and the Government’s pre-action protocol for possession
· answers from the Housing Team to questions raised by Members at the initial meeting.
In relation to tenancy rent arrears, these were still predominantly coming from Universal Credit claimants and it was acknowledged that these figures were continuing to rise. However, the Housing Team had a number of dedicated officers that continued to assist tenants with managing money and budgeting their finances.
One of the questions raised by Members was in relation to the success, or otherwise, of the Selective Licensing Scheme and the Services Manager, Scrutiny and Democratic Services expanded on the response and advised that the original scheme was due to end in February 2022 and a review would be commencing shortly to determine its continuance or cessation at the Council.
The Selective Licensing Scheme has improved management and maintenance of privately rented properties in two designated areas (New Cross and Stanton Hill) but problems in the areas still existed. The primary driver of the scheme was to improve the quality of private sector housing and demand for private housing continued to rise as more people continued to seek rental accommodation within the District.
The creation of the Selective Licensing Scheme was a Government initiative aimed at improving the quality of private sector housing and enabling landlords to have more productive relationships with their local Councils. It was envisaged that Councils would also benefit from the scheme as they would have access to additional good quality private rental accommodation that could be offered to people on their waiting lists as a viable alternative.
Tenancy issues were often multi-faceted and usually commenced with poverty struggles and poor standards of accommodation. Tenants would find themselves in arrears with their rent which would often result in eviction by private landlords culminating in the tenants presenting themselves to the Council as homeless and desperately needing ongoing support and alternative accommodation.
Housing officers were equipped to deal with all aspects of tenancy support which included:
Tenancy Sustainment Support
Private Sector ... view the full minutes text for item SA.3