To receive a report from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing presenting the updated Tenancy Inspection Policy and Equality Impact Assessment.
The Group had before it a report * from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing. The Tenancy Inspection Policy aimed to ensure that tenants were aware of the circumstances when Mid Devon Housing (MDH) will seek access to their properties and the tenant’s responsibility in providing that access. Furthermore, it sets out the approach to obtaining access to the Council’s tenanted properties, including gardens and outside areas and explained the type of information collected and the action to be taken when concerns were raised. There had been a Tenancy Inspection Policy in place for several years with the most recent version adopted in July 2016. It was therefore due for review.
The contents of the report were outlined with reference to the following:
· It was confirmed that the policy had been in existence for many years but had required some updating due to a small number of minor changes including references to the relevant legislation and the need to keep data updated.
· It was good practice to undertake inspections so as to understand any vulnerabilities or whether tenants needed any extra help.
· The policy also mentioned tenancy fraud which the Council took a strong line on. There were many different types of tenancy fraud including subletting, benefit fraud and falsifying information at the application stage. Depending on the seriousness this could carry a heavy fine or even a prison sentence. It had a huge impact and took properties away from people with registered housing need.
Discussion took place regarding:
· If Councillors had any concerns they should feed these back to the Neighbourhood Officers who would undertake an investigation in collaboration with Devon Audit Partnership. Councillors should not undertake an investigation themselves.
· The apparent lack of powers that officers had to resolve issues that were found in our neighbourhoods. Mention was made of the Community Protection Notice which was one tool that could be used to stop a person aged 16 or over, business or organisation committing anti-social behaviour which was spoiling the community’s quality of life.
· Intensive housing management techniques, including working with other agencies, were often very effective in dealing with neighbourhood disturbance. It was a very complex area with many issues, such as mental health, needing to be born in mind.
· Tenancy fraud was a concern, however, as soon as officers were alerted, investigations are carried out as appropriate. Tenancy fraud was less prevalent in rural areas.
RECOMMENDED to the Cabinet that the updated Tenancy Inspection Policy and Equality Impact Assessment contained in Annexes A and B respectively is approved.
(Proposed by Cllr F Letch and seconded by Cllr J Cairney)
Reason for the decision
The Council was required to make the best use of its housing stock which included managing it efficiently and taking steps to prevent tenancy fraud to avoid any financial losses. In accordance with the Localism Act 2011, the Council was required to publish a clear and accessible policy which outlined its approach to tenancy management which included reference to the prevention of tenancy fraud. The Council had a Tenancy Policy and used tenant inspections as a means of preventing fraud. Failure to provide housing management staff with the appropriate policies could result in a less consistent and effective service.
Note: * Report previously circulated.