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Agenda item

Private Rented Sector Housing Scheme

To receive a report on progress of the Private Rented Housing Sector Scheme. 

Minutes:

15.1           The report of the Head of Community Services, circulated at Pages No. 153-159, provided details of the private rented sector housing scheme.  Members were asked to consider the achievements of the scheme and note that it had now closed.

15.2          The Head of Community Services explained that, in March 2019, a successful bid had been made to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) for funding for a pilot project which met the criteria of the Private Sector Access Fund which supported innovative measures that provided additional support for single homeless people and/or reduced the number of households in temporary accommodation.  The pilot scheme was around encouraging landlords in the private rented sector to take tenants on a lower income and involved all of the district councils in Gloucestershire as well as West Oxfordshire which was part of Homeseeker Plus, the mechanism used for bidding on properties.  The appendix to the report provided a summary of the scheme and demonstrated that Tewkesbury Borough Council had supported 34 households into private rented accommodation at a cost of £45,694.16, mainly through providing rent in advance and deposits.  The fact that it was a pilot scheme was important as it had meant that each authority could use different methodology which could be evaluated to establish what worked and what did not work.  Members were informed there had been varying degrees of success as the pilot had secured 234 properties; however, feedback from landlords had suggested they did not really need financial incentives from the authority in a buoyant housing market.  In light of this, whilst officers were always looking to improve relationships with private sector landlords, it was not proposed to actively take the scheme forward as a project.  It should be noted that Tewkesbury Borough Council already had schemes in place to assist landlords and tenants e.g. rent deposits and rent in advance.

15.3          A Member indicated that it was his understanding that one of the landlords’ main concerns was how much support they would get from the Council if they had any issues with tenants and he asked whether there had been any discussion with landlords as part of the pilot scheme.  In response, the Head of Community Services clarified that this scheme was very much about the Council supporting tenants to maintain their tenancy but he felt that it had also helped the relationship with landlords which officers would look to maintain going forward.  Another Member raised concern that he was aware of rented properties being snapped up by a collection of financial companies who were then changing the use to holiday lets, therefore depleting the housing stock, and he questioned whether this had been happening in Tewkesbury Borough.  The Head of Community Services advised that a countywide review of the condition of private sector housing stock was about to be undertaken so this issue may be flagged up as part of that.  There were holiday lets within the borough, which were encouraged in terms of supporting tourism etc.; however, it was also important for the Council to maintain housing which it could control as property for its residents so he undertook to try to find out if this was a particular problem.

15.4           It was

RESOLVED          That the achievements of the private rented sector housing pilot scheme be NOTED.

Supporting documents: