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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Burrell, Page and Perfitt.

2.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

3.

Items Reserved for Debate

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the following agenda item had been drawn down for debate:

 

              9. Draft Local Lettings Plan for Coleridge Road New Build Development

 

Accordingly, Members endorsed the Officer recommendations in respect of the following items:

 

10. Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman – Annual Review     Letter 

 

11. Street Naming and Numbering – Northfleet West Sub-station (Ebbsfleet Green) Phase 3

 

12. Corporate Plan – Performance Indicators

 

13. Policy Overview Committee minutes – 12 June 2018

4.

Declarations of Interest on Items Reserved for Debate Only

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

5.

References from Committees

None at this stage.

Minutes:

There were no references from other Committees.

6.

Review of the Housing Allocations' Policy pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Summary:

 

1.    The Housing Allocations’ Policy was adopted by the General Assembly of the Council on 18 March 2013 as the Council’s framework for the allocation and management of future tenancies from 29 April 2013.  A subsequent review of the Policy was carried out and approved by Cabinet on 6 March 2014.

 

2.    In order to ensure a consistent approach, a further review of the Policy has been carried out and changes made, where appropriate, to reflect new legislation and operational methods.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Cabinet approve the revisions to the Housing Allocations’ Policy as described in this report.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Advisory Panel considered a review of the Housing Allocations’ Policy which had been adopted by the General Assembly of the Council on 18 March 2013 as the Council’s framework for the allocation and management of future tenancies. The current policy had applied from 29 April 2013 and had subsequently been reviewed and approved by the Cabinet on 6 March 2014. In order to ensure a consistent approach a further review of the policy had been carried out and changes made, where appropriate, to reflect new legislation and operational methods to ensure that it complied with important changes in legislation and that social housing was correctly and fairly allocated to those in priority need.  

 

The Head of Housing explained that the Council was required by law to have an Allocations Policy and that this was key to managing the heavy demand for social housing which outstripped availability. It was therefore important to have a robust policy in place which prioritised need to ensure the best and fairest use of the Council’s resources and to ensure the right balance between the properties being advertised and property lettings. As part of this process the Council was keen to encourage downsizing to release properties for allocation to those requiring larger accommodation as well as complying with the legal requirements around reasonable preference. The policy also contained changes around the definition of refuges (supported accommodation) to broaden the opportunity to provide support to those people leaving refuges and in need of accommodation.

 

A Member sought assurance that the provisions contained in paragraphs 5.20 to 5.23 of the report, dealing with moves from supported accommodation, would ensure the necessary support for those people leaving supported accommodation and asked whether there was a ‘safety net’. He was assured that people leaving supported accommodation were likely to be vulnerable and would attract a high housing priority as a result, usually a Band A categorisation which would always result in an offer of housing within a reasonable time. The Member also raised concerns about the transparency of the revised Allocations Policy. He felt that in practice anyone categorised as a Band D housing priority would not realistically be allocated housing in the foreseeable future and that this should be made more transparent in the policy. The Head of Housing confirmed that anyone in Band D was likely to either be in temporary accommodation or other accommodation and would therefore not be without a home. Anyone classed in Band C or above would be made a housing offer within a reasonable period of time (18-24 months) and the Allocations Policy was designed to manage demand and resource as fairly as possible according to need.

 

A Member expressed concern at placements of out-of-borough residents in Dartford by other local authorities and asked what impact this had on meeting the needs of local people. The Head of Housing admitted that this was a concern but that there was not much that the Council could do about this as placements were made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Draft Private Sector Housing Enforcement and Licensing Policy 2018 pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Summary:

 

The Council’s current Enforcement Policy has been operational since June 2014.  Since then, operational and legislative changes have been introduced and as a consequence, the Policy has been revised and updated to reflect these changes; including extended powers in respect of the licencing of houses in multiple occupation and those contained in the Housing and Planning Act 2016. This report sets out the major changes to the Policy and presents an updated version.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.    That Cabinet approve the draft Private Sector Housing Enforcement and Licencing Policy attached at Appendix A to the report; and

 

2.    That the Strategic Director (External Services) be given delegated authority to approve any minor revisions to the Policy as required.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Rachel Evans, Senior Private Sector Housing Officer, provided an overview of the Draft Private Sector Housing Enforcement and Licensing Policy. The Advisory Panel was advised that the Council’s current Private Sector Housing Enforcement and Licensing Policy had been in operation since June 2014. Since that time operational and legislative changes had been introduced and as a consequence the policy required updating to reflect these changes, which included extended powers in respect of the licensing of houses in multiple occupation and changes arising from the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The changes in part reflected the growth of the private rented sector as a significant form of property tenure and the need to ensure that tenants had legal protections to ensure the suitability and safety of the properties they rented and protection from rogue landlords. The report set out the major changes to the policy, including new civil penalty enforcement powers, the extension of Rent Repayment Orders to cover a much wider range of offences, and extension of licensing powers in relation to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) and new energy efficiency standards.

 

The definition of properties qualifying as HMO’s had been extended by legislation. Whilst there were currently 13 licensed HMO’s in the Borough it was difficult to provide accurate figures for those which would fall within the new regulations but this could be between 40-69 based on currently known HMO’s. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 also provided new powers for authorities to issue civil penalties as an alternative to prosecuting offenders through the Magistrates court, which was costly, time consuming and often resulted in small fines which did not accrue to the Council. The new civil penalties provided a powerful new deterrent to criminal landlord behaviour through the ability to impose financial penalties of up to £30,000 per offence which would complement current housing enforcement work. The Council would also be required to input details of any banning orders issued into a Rogue Landlord Database to record information about landlords who have received a banning order. 

 

Members congratulated the Head of Housing and his staff on the quality of the reports and policies submitted for their consideration, of which this was the latest example, welcomed the new policy and recognised the growth of the private rented housing sector and the need for appropriate regulation. A Member commented that the policy provided robust enforcement powers but asked what the Council was doing to encourage landlords to be good and responsible. He was advised that the Council did engage in activities to incentivise good behaviour through avenues such as the Landlords Forum, the sharing of information and good practice and always looked to resolve issues with landlords informally before taking enforcement action where possible/appropriate. The Member felt that measures to encourage responsible behaviour by landlords should be promoted and that it was important to engage positively with the private rented sector. The Head of Housing confirmed that steps would also be taken to publicise the new requirements and to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Draft Local Lettings Plan for Coleridge Road New Build Development pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

 

 

This report seeks approval for a local lettings plan to be implemented for the Council’s new build housing  development at Coleridge Road, Temple Hill.

 

Recommendation:

 

 

 

That the draft Local Lettings Plan attached at Appendix A to the report be approved.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel considered a report which set out a draft local lettings plan to be implemented for the Council’s new build housing development at Coleridge Road, Temple Hill which was due to completion in April 2019 and would provide 51 new homes for rent by local people. Local lettings plans were designed to ensure that the Council’s core objectives in terms of sustainable development and the minimisation of anti-social behaviour on estates were met as well as ensure a fair allocations process, target household compositions, determine priority allocations and additional tenancy conditions. The draft local lettings plan was largely modelled on the local lettings plan for the Council’s first new build development at Hill View and any further lettings plans for future Council developments would be based on the core principles contained in the proposed draft plan.

 

The Head of Housing explained that the plan aimed to give priority to tenants who had an identified housing need and who either wished to transfer from their existing property because they were overcrowded or wished to downsize. Tenants would be required to fulfil certain criteria including having a clear rent account and no history of anti-social behaviour. It was intended that most of the properties would be advertised through Kent Homechoice, although direct offers could be made in some circumstances. The quality of the design and build was high and it was aimed to make the housing aspirational and to this end it was planned to establish a ‘show flat’ to encourage those considering downsizing to apply. It was expected that the first flats would be let by Christmas.

 

A Member expressed some concern about creating a two tier allocations system and producing lettings plans on a scheme by scheme basis but welcomed the ambition to seek to free-up other Council properties for allocation to those in need of housing. The Head of Housing explained that the lettings plan was heavily based on that applied to Hill View and that future lettings plans would closely follow this model but that the plans would necessarily differ according to the size and nature of each development.  

 

Members were also concerned to ensure that anyone who had recently fallen into rent arrears because of their move onto universal credit, but who otherwise had had a clear rent account for a reasonable period of time, should not be precluded from applying for one of the properties. The Head of Housing confirmed that whilst it was usually a requirement to have a clear rent account the Housing Department would consider the reasons why an applicant had fallen into arrears and there was an ability to relax the criteria where there were extenuating circumstances which would lead to unfairness or inequality. The Advisory Panel felt that it should be made clear in the report that the circumstances of falling into rent arrears as a result of a move to Universal Credit would not preclude someone applying for a property and that the individual circumstances would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman - Annual Review Letter 2018 pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Summary:

 

To receive and note the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s Annual Review Letter 2018.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s Annual Review Letter 2018 attached at Appendix A to the report, and the corresponding data tables for the Council at Appendices B and C to the report, be noted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

10.

Street Naming and Numbering - Northfleet West Sub-station (Ebbsfleet Green) Phase 3 pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Summary:

 

To approve the names for six new roads on Phase 3 of the Northfleet West Sub-station development.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the six new road names for Phase 3 of the Northfleet West Sub-station development be approved as Adamson, Conybeare, Emmeline, Garland, Millicent and Roberts.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendations contained in the report.

11.

Corporate Plan - Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Summary:

 

This report provides the progress with the latest set of Corporate Plan key actions and performance indicators for quarter 1 of 2018/19.

 

Recommendation:

 

That Members note the contents of the key action and performance indicator monitoring reports attached at Appendices A and B to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel endorsed the recommendation contained in the report.

12.

Policy Overview Committee minutes - 12 June 2018 pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Summary:

 

To present to Cabinet the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 12 June 2018.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Policy Overview Committee held on 12 June 2018 be noted.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Advisory Panel noted the minutes of the Policy Overview Committee held on 12 June 2018.