Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet Housing Panel
Tuesday 14th July 2020 7.30 pm

Contact: Sharon Keenlyside 

Items
No. Item

39.

SUBSTITUTIONS

To note any substitution of Panel Members in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.

Minutes:

There were none.

40.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

There were none.

41.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 February 2020 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 19 February 2020 were approved as a correct record.

 

The hard copy of the Minutes would be signed by the Chairman as soon as it was reasonably practicable or alternatively, electronic signatures would be arranged after the meeting.

 

42.

ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) which lists the actions from the last Panel meeting and their current status.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Panel meeting on 19 February 2020, in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance), was noted.

43.

HOUSING AND COMMUNITIES SERVICE UPDATE pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which provides an update on housing-related activities.

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which gave an update on the services provided by the Housing and Communities teams and work that continued to be undertaken by Officers. Over the past quarter the team had been engaged in day to day service delivery and had also contributed to the council-wide Covid-19 response, as previously reported to full council.

 

The following points were raised and discussed.

·         Members commented on how the report was testament to how hard the Housing and Communities teams had been working under difficult circumstances and Members wanted to express their gratitude.

·         Members asked for an update on the emergency accommodation that had been required for eight rough sleepers following the closure of The Hive at the Jim MacDonald Centre and Jimmy Macs. The team had taken swift action early on in the crisis and worked with Resolve and Mears to find them emergency accommodation. The team had looked at the needs of the eight residents and had in progress solutions for all eight. The Government were saying that communal night shelters could not open at present but it was hoped that The Hive could re-open early August. In the meantime the team were in communication with Resolve about setting up a slightly different accommodation option.  Resolve would use their current team to provide support so the Council would have an ongoing offer for any rough sleepers going forward. Longer term the project may be used as a platform as it had been very successful and was getting some interest externally. Medium term, the Council was exploring different solutions and would share these with Members once the proposals had been finalised.

·         Members wanted it noted that the Risk and Resilience Team and Environmental Health had provided support to the Housing team in terms of carrying out risk assessments.

·         There had been a significant rise in anti-social behaviour (ASB) and neighbour related issues. Members asked how the teams had found it working in these difficult circumstances. Officers said that caseloads had increased but staff had adapted incredibly well and had been well supported by their Team Leader. Officers are ensuring that staff were debriefed regularly and keeping in touch with staff as many staff members were working from home.

·         Members asked how teams were supporting residents. Officers explained that they had been looking at ways of engaging with them and had been doing a lot of social media posts alongside the Community Safety Partnership and the Police, urging people to be sensible and tolerant and communicating to them that the Council will enforce where necessary. The Council had undertaken online Police surgeries where people could report hotspot areas and the ASB team were contactable by phone and by email. Hopefully, residents had not seen much of a change in terms of services and the Council were still obtaining high percentages in terms of satisfaction in the way that cases were being dealt with despite the increase in cases.

·         Members enquired about whether the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

MUTUAL EXCHANGE POLICY pdf icon PDF 9 MB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which recommends the approval and adoption of a new Mutual Exchange Policy.

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which recommended the approval and adoption of the new Mutual and Exchange Policy set out in Appendix A.

 

There was currently no Mutual Exchange Policy in place. Prior to the transformation of the Housing Operations service, a draft mutual exchange procedure was in place from 2014, later updated in August 2017.

 

Section 92 of the Housing Act 1985 provided a legal right for two or more social housing tenants to exchange properties where they occupied permanent, self-contained accommodation and where the consent of the landlords was given.

 

The new policy sets out how the Council would process exchange applications in a fair and consistent way and in accordance with legislation.

 

The policy clearly sets out tenant’s obligations and responsibilities also ensuring that they understood the implications of mutual exchange.

 

The following points were raised and discussed:

 

·         Members asked if any two properties being exchanged, had to be like for like? Officers explained that they did not have to be like for like and as laid out in the policy, the Council would expect people who were mutually exchanging, would have the right sized property for their need. Therefore, it could help with the Council’s stock if people were downsizing.

·         Members asked what systems were in place to stop people abusing the mutual exchange system. Officers explained that there was a robust application process in place and the Council conducted visits to ensure that people who were supposed to be living in households, actually were. There was also checks on identification and tenants were interviewed and asked if they had been pressured into exchanging. It was written into the policy that if the Council became aware that there had been any bribes, it would be looked upon very seriously and legal action may be taken.

·         Members asked whether tenants could still use the House Swap Portal, an online system, if they did not have access to the internet. Officers said that tenants could contact their Neighbourhood Officer who would assist them with that process.

·         All tenants would have the right to repairs. If the Council was responsible for repairing a property, whether or not there has been a mutual exchange, the Council would still be repairing under those obligations. The property to be exchanged would be ‘as seen’ but if the property was left in an unacceptable condition, the Council would seek to remedy it and then look at charging the outgoing tenant.

·         Members were pleased to see that under the new policy, tenants were encouraged to attend with the surveyor.

·         Members enquired about the property inspections and were informed that the surveyor would do a visual inspection. They would be able to detect if fixtures and fittings should not be there and if there were alterations to the property. The Councils Neighbourhood Officers would also attend alongside the surveyors. The incoming tenant and all parties would receive a copy of the surveyors report.

 

RESOLVED:

(Unanimous)

 

1.    That the report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

SUCCESSION POLICY pdf icon PDF 6 MB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which recommends the approval and adoption of a new Succession Policy.

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which recommends the adoption of a new Succession Policy as set out in Appendix A.

 

There was currently no Succession Policy in place. Prior to the transformation of the Housing Operations service, a draft succession procedure was in place.

 

Statutory succession was provided for within Sections 87 and 88 of the Housing Act 1985 and Section 160 of the Localism Act 2014. Would be ‘successors’ were given the legal right to succeed to a tenancy upon the death of a tenant, unless the deceased tenant was a successor themselves.

 

Depending on which Act applies, there were varying degrees of flexibility around whom can succeed.

 

The new policy sets out how the Council would manage succession applications in a fair and consistent way and in accordance with legislation.

 

The following points were raised and discussed:

 

·         On point 10 – disputed succession, Members asked why tenants, who had a right to be housed but could not succeed that property, could not stay in that property until new accommodation could be found for them. Officers explained that they had finite time to bring legal action once a Notice to Quit had been served

 

RESOLVED:

            (Unanimous)

 

That the adoption of the new Mutual Exchange Policy (as set out at Appendix A) is recommended to Cabinet.

 

46.

HOMELESSNESS PROCESS REPORT pdf icon PDF 191 KB

The report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) sets out the current process for determining how the Council assesses applicants’ homelessness, and how it consequently deals with those that it assesses as homeless and seeks approval to continue the current process.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which sets out the current process for determining how the Council assessed applicants’ homelessness, and how it consequently dealt with those that it assessed as homeless. The report sought approval to continue the current process. This housing function was carried out by the Housing Options Team.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the report be noted.

           

2.    That the continuation of the current procedure as set out below in Paragraphs 3.40 to 3.46 of this report was approved.

 

 

47.

PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR HOUSING PERIOD QUARTER FOUR 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) providing a summary of the strategic key performance indicators (KPIs), and comments about performance by exception for Quarter Four 2019/20.  The KPIs are monitored monthly by Heads of Service.

 

Minutes:

Members received a report of the Corporate Director (Housing and Communities) which provided a summary of the strategic Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and comments about performance by exception for Quarter 4 2019/20. The KPI’s were monitored monthly by Heads of Service.

 

Members commented on how well the teams had done since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic and that it was testament to how hard the teams had worked.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the performance report was noted.

 

48.

WORK PROGRAMME 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 187 KB

The pro-forma which sets out the Panel’s work programme has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place.

Minutes:

The pro-forma setting out the Panel’s work programme had been updated since the last meeting to enable the forward planning of items to be considered.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the updated work programme for the Panel be noted.