Chichester District Council has drafted a policy outlining ways in which the council can help residents and landlords to maintain and improve the condition of housing in the district. The council is encouraging people to share their views on this in a new public consultation running from Friday 6 November until 4 December.
A key objective in the council’s housing strategy is to ensure that everyone in the district has access to suitable, safe housing in a good condition, which is very important for residents’ physical and mental wellbeing. As part this work, the council commissioned a Government funded study to assess and evaluate current housing conditions across the district.
The findings of the BRE Integrated Dwelling Level Housing Stock Modelling and Database Report have helped shape a new draft Financial Assistance and Enforcement Policy, which aims to help homeowners and private sector landlords to maintain the condition of their properties. It also sets out the full range of enforcement powers available to the council’s housing inspection team to help improve housing standards in the district.
The key proposals in the policy include how the council will:
- Help tackle excess cold and reduce fuel poverty by expanding the eligibility criteria for the Chichester Warm Homes Initiative
- Continue to work with landlords to improve the standard of rented properties through the Chichester Landlord Accreditation scheme
- Assist homeowners that can’t afford to make repairs to their homes by increasing the amount of support offered through the Home Repairs Assistance scheme, and
- Support those who are disabled by continuing to offer Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants.
“We are committed to ensuring our residents have access to suitable accommodation that is well managed, properly maintained, safe and habitable,” says Councillor Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at Chichester District Council.
“As a council, we already offer a range of financial support and advice to residents on low incomes, disabled residents, and landlords to help improve the condition of housing in the district. For example, the Chichester Warm Homes Initiative was set up to help residents in fuel poverty. This occurs when households can’t afford to keep warm because the cost of heating their homes is higher than average and paying for this would leave them below the poverty line. The scheme provides financial support to households in this situation to help them make energy efficient improvements to their homes. As part of our draft policy, we are proposing to expand the eligibility criteria so that we can help more people. Landlords may also be eligible for this support depending on the whether their tenant fits the eligibility criteria.
“The report shows that significant improvements in housing conditions and energy efficiency have been made since 2015, particularly in the private rented sector. The percentage of rented properties in the district with serious health and safety hazards has reduced from 22% to 12%. As a council, we are keen to build on this important work by continuing to offer support to those on low incomes to help pay for essential home repairs through the Home Repairs Assistance scheme. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we understand that more homeowners may be struggling financially at this time and so in our draft policy we are proposing to increase the amount of funding available to help more residents.
“The second part of the policy outlines the council’s enforcement approach and the available powers inspecting officers have to regulate and manage non-compliance. This includes the ability to give civil penalties instead of prosecution, and provides inspecting officers with a full range of enforcement tools to take action against landlords who fail to provide acceptable homes for their tenants.
“The consultation is an opportunity to view the draft policy and offer feedback on the proposals in a quick 5-10 minute survey. This is an important piece of work and we are really keen to hear your views as it will make a huge difference to those residents who find themselves living in unsuitable conditions, and will help us to significantly improve their health and wellbeing. I would urge everyone – whether you are a homeowner, a landlord, or a tenant – to take part.”
The consultation will go live on 6 November and people can get involved and have their say on the policy and its proposals by visiting: www.chichester.gov.uk/letstalkhousingstandards.
People who would like to get involved with more consultations and surveys in the future can also join Chichester District Council’s Let’s Talk Panel. By signing up, they will be automatically notified of any consultations by email, and can decide whether or not they want to take part. People can join by visiting: www.chichester.gov.uk/letstalkpanel