Committee considered a report with regard to Corporate Plan Targets Performance Update for Quarter 2 (July to September 2019) presented by the Information, Engagement & Performance Manager.
The report contained outturns for the Corporate Plan 2019-2020 targets which sat beneath the ‘unlocking our growth potential’ corporate aim as of 30th September 2019. There were 7 targets in total, with 6 on track and 1 on alert.
The Information, Engagement & Performance Manager explained that the target ‘G11 - Through a programme of targeted refurbishment bring 10 empty private sector properties back into use per annum’ was on alert because no properties had been brought back into use this quarter. However, 7 properties were currently in the process of being brought back into use and when completed, would create 12 units of accommodation.
A Member referred to the old Co-op in Whitwell which had been purchased by Action Housing to be converted into 5 apartments. Work had now started on the building and it was hoped to complete within 6 months.
Another Member raised concerns around Action Housing’s involvement in the work at Whitwell as Action Housing had previously refurbished the Station Hotel in Creswell. He reported how a number of locals had sought assurances from Action Housing about the clientele the refurbished Station Hotel could attract because of its close proximity to a school, and that Action Housing had pledged to vet whoever they rented the apartments to with this concern in mind. However, the Member added that there had been recent reports at the Hotel of drug use, raising serious concerns about how thorough Action Housing’s vetting process was.
The Member responded by explaining that he was aware of the issues at the Station Hotel and had organised a meeting between Action Housing and Bolsover District Council officers to raise concerns about Action Housing renting their properties to unsuitable tenants. The Member believed it was worrying that the reports of drug use at the Station Hotel had come after that meeting had taken place, and he felt a letter needed to capture these concerns and be sent from the Chair of this Committee to Action Housing.
A Member enquired if the issue with Action Housing was how they vetted potential tenants. The Member informed Committee that in the aforementioned meeting with Action Housing, their officers had stated they carried out vetting processes and had total control over the final decision to let a property. The Member felt that Action Housing outsourcing some areas of work could have led to some properties not being vetted as well as others.
A Member believed the Committee should be informed of exactly what Action Housing’s rental vetting processes were, and the specific criteria they used.
Members agreed that the Chair should send a letter, in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, to Action Housing asking about their vetting processes and criteria when choosing tenants for their properties, as well as the concerns raised at this meeting regarding the Station Hotel. The Chair agreed this would capture the discussions and concerns.
A Member enquired what exactly Scrutiny could do to monitor vetting by private landlords. The Chief Executive Officer explained that selective licensing was one option. The Scrutiny & Elections Officer added that a Housing Bill was going through Parliament with landlord accreditation aspects to it.
The Scrutiny & Elections Officer suggested that she could invite the relevant Council officers to the next scheduled Growth Scrutiny Committee meeting, to provide Members with an update on private landlords and how the Council vetted them.
Moved by Councillor Tom Munro and seconded by Councillor Chris Kane
RESOLVED that (1) the report be noted,
(2) in consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, a letter be sent from the Chair of this Committee to Action Housing, to include the following:
“To ask Action Housing for the details of their vetting processes and criteria when they let their properties to tenants, and to relay the concerns expressed by Members about reported and continued drug use at one of their properties at the Station Hotel in Creswell”,
(3) relevant Council officers be invited to the next scheduled Growth Scrutiny Committee meeting, to provide Members with an update on private landlords and the powers available to, and duties of the Council, for regulation of the sector.
(Chair/CEO/Scrutiny & Elections Officer)