To consider an update report on the upcoming changes to the tenancy agreement (Report of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health and/or Executive Director Place, enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health and the Executive Director – Place which sought to advise members of the consultation process required to amend SHDC’s Introductory and Secure Tenancy Agreement.
The Housing Services Manager stated that the changes were designed to toughen the agreement, including a requirement for new tenants to provide 4 weeks worth of rent up front upon commencing a tenancy and allowances for greater controls over pet ownership in rented properties among other changes. It was stated that the changes were being made to make the Authority compliant with recent changes to several pieces of legislation.
Members stated that they felt that they agreed with the changes. However, they asked about references to tenants agreeing to the condition of a property when they took it. They were concerned that this would bar tenants from complaining about poor conditions. The Place Manager stated that the authority still had standards that they would be obliged to keep properties in line with.
Members also referred to demands for tenants to move in to properties immediately upon taking of the contract. The Housing Services Manager responded that this was because tenants would not be able to claim benefits until they showed they were moving in.
Members asked which tenants would be consulted and whom the changes would be made for. The Housing Services responded that both the consultation and the final document would be for all tenants and would not exclude any group.
Members asked how checks would be made for compliancy. The Housing Services Manager responded that the authority had implemented annual visits.
The Chairman asked how many chances would be given to non-compliers to the changes. The Housing Services Manager stated that changes were being looked at to toughen up on enforcement as it was generally agreed that the Authority had been lenient on enforcement and that it was the prevailing opinion that this should be changed.
The Chairman asked about paragraph 1.6 of the report, questioning why the current tenants were being given a 28 day consultation period on the new agreement. The Housing Services Manager stated that the Housing Act 1985 made this an obligation.
Members asked if there was any help available for people who were unable to meet tenancy conditions. The Housing Services Manager stated that it was very much the opinion of the Housing Team that they wanted to avoid enforcing against people who had legitimate reasons that meant they were unable to meet conditions, and that considerations would be made on a case-by-case basis.
The Chairman noticed the expansion of the definition of anti-social behaviour and asked for examples of what would be newly considered anti-social behaviour. The Housing Services Manager responded that this could now include untidy gardens and intimidating behaviour such as noise etc.
Members asked if there was a system in place of matching a property to a tenant. The Housing Services Manager responded that tenants would only be offered properties which fit their needs.
1) That the Panel note the intention to update the Council’s Introductory and Secure agreement.
2) That the Panel notes the formal consultation process required to make changes to the tenancy agreement.