Scrutiny’s consideration was sought in relation to a draft Local Lettings Policy for new build properties before its submission to Executive for approval.
The Assistant Director of Housing Management & Enforcement presented a proposed Local Lettings Policy – New Build, which would apply to new Council housing added via the Bolsover Homes scheme.
The Council’s Allocations Policy provided the overall framework for lettings of Council properties. Local lettings policies allowed the Council to respond to local needs and have a localised approach to the management of specific property types. The officer advised that Local Lettings policies may give preference for offers of accommodation to defined groups of customers, for example, on the basis of their age, employment status or local connection to an area.
The Local Lettings Policy – New Build Properties (Appendix 1), detailed the method of allocating the new build properties to those who lived in or had a strong connection to the ward where the new properties were located, in the first instance.
The strong local connection criteria would include:
It was also confirmed that if there were no applicants in the categories above, the properties would be allocated in accordance with the Council Allocations Policy, in order of priority banding and waiting time.
It was intended that the Local Lettings Policy would apply to any new build property built or acquired by the Council and any other new build schemes in the District owned/ managed by the Council. However, where there was a property with adaptions, this would be excluded and allocations would be through the Housing Allocation and Review Panel (HARP) as set out in the Allocation Policy.
As part of the review of the Policy, Members raised the following questions:
A Member noted that the wording of section 4.4 implied that the Council would only let to those in employment and queried if this was the case?
In response, the officer noted that this had been queried by another Member and would be reworded accordingly. It was noted that the Policy should emphasise that by being employed within the Ward in question, this could give a local connection to the area. This was just one possible criteria a prospective tenant could rely on. There was no criteria which would require a prospective Council tenant to be in employment.
A Member queried how the policy would work alongside the existing allocation process of points/banding?
In response, the officer confirmed that the Policy would only apply to new build Council housing which had been designed to meet a known housing need within specific wards. The aim would be to ensure allocation to people from the locality in the first instance to ensure the housing need was met. Once this phase had taken place, any unallocated new stock would be available to those on the waiting list and subject to the Council’s Allocation Policy.
A Member queried whether the Policy would also apply to properties purchased from new estates via s.106?
In response, officers noted that it would apply to those properties as the Council were adding stock via that process where there was an identified need in the area.
A Member noted that within the Bolsover area, there were only new builds coming forward in the Bolsover North & Shuttlewood, and Bolsover East Wards, as Bolsover South had no further capacity for new housing. They sought clarification on whether those resident in Bolsover South be able to apply and move to either of the other two Wards via this Policy?
In response, the officer confirmed that those residents would be able to apply.
A Member queried whether the Policy would apply to properties that the Council were buying to renovate (i.e. empty properties) or houses that the Council were buying to add in to existing stock?
The officer confirmed that it would also apply to those properties.
Moved by Councillor Ray Heffer and seconded by Councillor David Dixon
RESOLVED that Members were satisfied with the draft Local Lettings Policy – New Builds.
(Assistant Director of Housing Management & Enforcement)