Housing and Strategic Planning Cabinet Member – minutes – 30 December 2008
27 (12) PRIVATE SECTOR HOME IMPROVEMENT POLICY – The Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report seeking agreement for revisions to the Private Sector Home Improvement Policy.
The government gave councils the power to offer assistance to any person in any form in order to improve housing conditions under the Housing Regulatory Reform Order 2002. Poor quality housing had an adverse effect on health, safety and well-being. Some households, particularly those with elderly and disabled members, needed help to keep their homes safe and in good repair.
The council adopted a Home Improvement Policy in July 2003 to offer a variety of forms of assistance to help improve and maintain homes in North Lincolnshire.
The Policy was reviewed each year to take into account changes in council policy and the funding available. Changes in legislation were also taken into account.
There was an increasing demand from disabled people for assistance to adapt their homes so they could live at home as independently as possible. In order to provide the widest range of options the council was joining the regional loans service and exploring the potential of working with a credit union to offer small loans.
It was also proposed to withdraw empty homes grants. They had not provided value for money, as most of the properties on which grants were given would have been brought back into use even without the grant.
Resolved – That the revised Private Sector Home Improvement Policy be approved.
The council was responsible for preventing homelessness and where people did become homeless offering assistance to find a new home. Where an individual or household was found to be in priority need and had not intentionally made themselves homeless the council had a duty to secure accommodation from them.
At present the council had no option other than to place people who had already become homeless in bed and breakfast accommodation until social rented housing or a private let could be arranged. Commercial bed and breakfast establishments did not provide a suitable environment for normal family life.
Funding had been secured from the Regional Housing Board to refurbish two empty properties and bring them back into use as temporary accommodation for homeless families.
Resolved – That the agreement with Guinness Northern Counties to provide two homes in Scunthorpe for temporary accommodation for homeless families be confirmed.
As part of the requirement to provide a computerised system for property searches, it had been necessary to review the Closing and Demolition Orders currently on the council’s land charges register.
Under the provisions of the Housing Act 1985 and previous housing legislation where a dwelling was found to be unfit for human habitation, there were a number of courses of action which could be taken including the making of a Closing or Demolition Order.
The Orders to be lifted were all served prior to the creation of North Lincolnshire Council and must formally be revoked before they could be removed from the land charges register even though they were no longer relevant.
The appendix to the report detailed 95 Closing or Demolition Orders where either the dwelling had been renovated and was now suitable for habitation, or had been demolished. There were five Closing Orders that would remain in force.
Resolved – That the lifting of the Closing and Demolition Orders and the retention of the five outstanding Orders, as detailed in Appendix 2, be approved.