Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet Member for Housing
Tuesday, 3rd July, 2018 5.00 pm

Venue: Executive Meeting Room - The Guildhall - Floor 3

Contact: Joanne Wildsmith, Democratic Services Tel: 9283 4057  Email: joanne.wildsmith@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

11.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

None, with all spokespersons present.

12.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

Councillor Darren Sanders, the Cabinet Member for Housing had sought guidance from the City Solicitor on his declarations which were:

 

i)             Item 3 (Private Sector Housing Enforcement) a personal but non-prejudicial interest in that he lives in a house in multiple occupation (HMO)

ii)            Item 4 (Update on Leamington and Horatia Houses information item) a personal and non-prejudicial interest in that his mother lives in one of the blocks affected.

13.

Proposed changes to the enforcement policy used by Private Sector Housing pdf icon PDF 92 KB

The purpose of the report by the Director of Housing, Neighbourhoods and Building Services is to propose changes to the current private sector housing enforcement policy so that council officers are better placed to deal the detrimental impacts that the build-up of rubbish on private properties can have on the local area.

 

RECOMMENDED that the Cabinet Member for Housing approves the changes to the Enforcement Policy and fixed penalty charges under Section 249A Housing Act 2004.

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing:

(1)  Approved the changes to the Enforcement Policy and fixed penalty charges under Section 249A Housing Act 2004

(2)  Requested that a review of the effectiveness of the revised policy be brought back for consideration by the end of 2019.

Minutes:

Deputations were made, which are recorded as part of the web-cast of this meeting which can be viewed here (so are not minuted in full):

 

https://livestream.com/accounts/14063785/Cabinet-Housing-03Jul2018

 

i)             Alwin Oliver, as a landlord and letting agent

ii)            Martin Silman, Chairman of the Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association

Both deputations were making objections to some elements of the policy, especially the onus on the landlords being fined rather than tenants who left waste, and asked that there be clear publicity on the changes and responsibilities.

 

Bruce Lomax, Private Sector Housing Manager, presented his report which set out the changes in legislation since the previous policy of 2007, and it was now permissible for civil penalties to be imposed on the tenant or landlord.  The manager of a property has the duty to keep it in a clean condition and provide suitable storage receptacles for waste. There is also a duty on the occupant who can be fined for breaching management regulations.

 

Councillor Stubbs stressed the importance of making the lines of responsibility clear to tenants of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and suggested there be a review to see how the changes to the policy were working after a year of operation.

 

In response to questions from Councillor Sanders, Bruce Lomax reported that this legislation only covered HMOs and not private home owners and that Portsmouth City Council (PCC) would give landlords 3 days' notice to remove litter before action was taken against them.  Councillor Sanders was mindful that the number of complaints about waste accumulating in the forecourts of HMOs had been increasing (as set out in the table at 4.5 of the report).  He also recognised the request by the landlords in their deputations for there to be clarity on the PCC website about what is expected for waste management at HMOs.

 

Paul Fielding, Assistant Director Housing, reported on the wider waste management policies with the trialling of wheelie bins for waste rather than bags being left out, and HMOs were being advised of the appropriate types of bins for forecourts. Councillor Sanders further reported that following the wheelie bin trial the capacity allowance had been increased and bin collections would be kept weekly.

 

Councillor Sanders invited comments from the Residents Consortium and CLG representatives Maria Cole, Richard Blackwood and Mada Abrams who welcomed the steps being taken to address the problem of rubbish accumulating at HMO properties.

 

A written deputation had been received from Dr Eleanor Scott (who apologised for not being able to attend the meeting) who he had met with to discuss issues, some of which were on-going regarding transparency, and her submission was in support of the proposals and he read parts of her deputation regarding her experiences of living near an HMO in Fratton.

 

Councillor Sanders was in support of the proposals which would help make the city cleaner and agreed with the points made on the need to educate tenants, so there would be close liaison with HMO owners, tenants and the University of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Update on Leamington House and Horatia House rehousing of households (information item)

Councillor Darren Sanders, as Cabinet Member for Housing, has asked James Hill, Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services to attend the meeting to provide a verbal update on progress to rehouse households from Leamington House and Horatia House.

 

Decision:

The verbal update given by the Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services was noted.

 

(This information item is not subject to call-in)

Minutes:

James Hill, Director of Housing, Neighbourhood and Building Services had been asked by Councillor Sanders to provide a verbal update on the progress to rehouse households from Leamington House and Horatia House.

 

James Hill reported the background, that on 5th June residents in Horatia and Leamington House were informed about the issue of the concrete strength and that Portsmouth City Council (PCC) would be rehousing all residents in both blocks.

 

Approximately 70 staff from across the directorate (and agencies like HFRS) were involved in the initial phase as PCC officers visited residents, began the process of checking sheds, visiting flats and gathering all the information we would need to commence the rehousing. A dedicated 24 hour help line was established, dedicated email address, the area offices opening hours were extended and opened over the first weekend and the fire watch service was adjusted to a concierge/security in both blocks.

 

As the first few days passed it became quickly apparent that residents felt assured with the information provided and there was not the need to provide emergency temporary accommodation.  In the week commencing 11th June the area office opening hours went back to normal opening hours but the help line continued to operate and a dedicated rehousing team continued to discuss rehousing options with residents in both blocks. PCC's Housing Service issued a letter to residents on the 12th June confirming those changes and the ongoing arrangements.

 

James Hill then expanded on the Re-Housing Project (from the current day until Spring 2018).  The Rehousing team led by Joanne Bennett remains dedicated to supporting the rehousing of all the households in the blocks. There are New Tenancy Officers, Support workers and specialists assigned to the project. The Area Housing Team (Somerstown Hub) led by David Mearns and Dave Sambells will continue to provide regular communication updates, monitor the security arrangements and Housing offices will continue to be assigned to each block .

 

The Technical Team led by Steve Groves will focus on securing the building and look at the options for the strengthening, recladding and installation of sprinklers.  The Project team are meeting every two weeks with oversight provided by an Assistant Director of Housing and regular reports available to James as Director and the Cabinet member for Housing.

 

The dedicated 24 hour help line Tel: 02392 841311 remains in place and a dedicated email address:  towerblocks@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

 

 

James Hill took the opportunity to publicly thank the staff in his directorate, from other directorates within PCC and from partner agencies that worked tirelessly in the run up to the announcement and through those first few weeks. Many working long hard hours and beyond the normal day jobs, showing flexibility and compassion in their response.

He also thanked the residents of the two blocks for their calm response (as had been seen when the cladding issue had been discovered) There are naturally concerns but the residents have shown a great understanding of the situation and are cooperating with the PCC  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.