To consider the final report of the Re-Letting of Void Properties Task Group (report of the Executive Director – Place is to follow).
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Manager Governance to approve the final report of the Re-Letting of Void Properties Task Group, prior to its consideration by the Cabinet.
The Chairman of the Task Group, Councillor Aley, gave an overview of the report and thanked all those involved in the work of the Task Group. The scope of the review was to consider performance and to make recommendations on how to improve it. The following comments were made in relation to specific sections within the Final Report:
· 5.1 - The Task Group had spoken with many officers and they had all been most helpful.
· 6.2 - Summary of findings – a huge spreadsheet was used to record all the information and this needed to be addressed.
· 6.6 - Choice Based Lettings – this system was not currently operated by South Holland District Council, but may be looked at in the future.
· 6.8 - Marketing of properties – this needed addressing to promote properties better and make the re-let procedure quicker.
· 7.2a - There should be one Voids team but as yet there had been no discussion on how this could operate.
· 7.2c - Websites and Facebook could be used to market void properties.
· 8.1 - There were no financial implications at this time.
A follow up report providing an update on progress in actioning recommendations should be considered at the meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel on 7 November 2017.
The Panel considered the following points:
· There were an average of 26 properties being handed back each month.
· Some properties were long term voids but these were usually down to the area they were in e.g. bad neighbours, unpopular area.
· The Environmental Services Manager commented that 1 bedroom flats in Spalding were proving hard to let as they did not meet strategic housing needs because they were within the sheltered housing section. Marketing was key and needed addressing.
· The Council should look at their stock as a whole and not be afraid to sell off unwanted properties and invest in what and where was popular.
· The figure in Section 6.4 of 250 on the housing waiting list was not a fair reflection – this only focused on those with an acute and pressing need. Those less in need were not included in the figures. Councillor Brewis suggested the figure needed to be nearer 1000. If the list was too high it made the administration costs too high.
· Section 7.2c - Stronger wording was needed, use ‘undertaken’ rather than ‘investigated’.
· Section 7.2d - Possibility to review current contracts that impacted upon voids timeline.
The Executive Director Place confirmed that the Council did not collect what was owed in damages until after a tenant had left, thus making it nearly impossible to recoup as they had disappeared. The Place review being submitted to Full Council suggested that, to avoid this situation happening, tenants should be managed through a housing management plan, having regular checks during a contract, like a private tenancy would. Energy Performance Certificate assessments were currently done in house. Asbestos surveys required specialist action therefore this was not currently done in house.
Councillor Brewis noted that the work of the Task Group had been very rewarding with all members involved having a shared interest in improving performance.
Councillor Booth mentioned that Gerry McKevitt had submitted useful comments and that his suggestions should be considered.
a) That subject to more robust wording being used, as detailed within the discussion, the final report of the re-letting of Void Properties Task Group be approved for presentation to the Cabinet; and
b) That a follow up report providing an update on progress in actioning recommendations should be considered at the meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel on 7 November 2017