Agenda item

Housing Strategy - Development & Consultation


Debby Weller, Housing Policy and Strategy Manager, introduced a report detailing progress made in preparing the draft Housing Strategy 2021/22 to 2025/26, including the timetable for delivery, the current policy environment and key challenges, emerging strategic direction, and priorities and consultation plans.


For context, housing market activity had been seen to have declined as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but had since recovered strongly. House prices had risen by approximately 4%, while flat prices had remained stable. London prices remained markedly more expensive than other areas, though prices outside London were growing more rapidly as people were moving to rural locations in search of more space.


The policy and legislative context for housing had a focus on  addressing fire safety and other health and safety concerns, housing conditions, social housing landlord’s relationships with tenants and leaseholders, climate change and environmental concerns, domestic abuse, and changes to planning such as permitted development rights, the new London Plan and reforms set out in the planning white paper and the forthcoming planning bill.


Proposed housing strategy priorities related to place shaping, increasing access to affordable homes, improving housing standards, support for the Charter for Social Housing Residents, and supporting independent living, together with addressing climate change and normalising service delivery following the pandemic.


Place Shaping involved Housing Services contributing to ensuring inclusive, greener and sustainable places across a wide range of services which included collaboration between health, social care and housing sectors. The Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy was currently under development and would be informed by housing issues identified following the pandemic, such as overcrowding.


The Council’s need for affordable housing remains, but the profile of the homes needed has changed, with an increased demand for family housing. Housing Standards in the Council stock would be a key element of the Council’s Housing Revenue Account Business Plan, which would include compliance with new building safety requirements.


Implementing the Social Housing Charter was to be supported through increased digital tools, resident surveys and benchmarking. Homelessness was expected to rise following the ending of the ban on evictions, which would increase pressure on the homelessness prevention service. Improvements to housing services would include improved joint working with social care, Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation, further support for older people, and support for residents with autism or dementia.


The draft strategy would be widely consulted on, likely between July and September, before a further report to this Committee. Thereafter, the Strategy would be submitted for endorsement to Cabinet, before approval at Full Council.


Members sought further information on a number of points, with officers responding as follows:


Regarding the licensing of landlords prior to their renting of a property, Homes of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) landlords required a licence before renting an HMO property to five or more people. Additional licensing was dependent on the Council evidencing the requirement for additional conditions to address issues, such as antisocial behaviour. The Council did not place families into HMOs, instead placing into separate dwellings that adhered to room space standards. All accommodation was checked prior to placing tenants, to ensure it adhered to the required safety and management standards.


On the matter of Council tenants complaining of a lack of timely repairs, such as the fixing of a faulty boiler, it was acknowledged that there had been issues with the Council’s new suppliers at the start of the contract, which had resulted in the Council issuing an improvement notice. Since then, a number of changes had been implemented and such issues were declining. For example, stocks of parts for obsolete equipment had been increased, reducing delays for addressing faults.


Regarding empty Council properties, this was confirmed to be at circa 1%, which, according to benchmarking against neighbours, was good performance. It was recognised that this number should be kept as low as possible, though there were occasions where properties were kept vacant to allow for assessments and repairs, etc.


The importance of highlighting standards and practices to both landlords and tenants was recognised, and work was underway to ensure the requisite knowledge on how to maintain a property, and how to report issues, was provided. Landlords were required to evidence that they had provided certain documents to their tenants at the commencement of a tenancy, otherwise they would be unable to serve notice on those tenants. With regard to ‘problem’ landlords and tenants, the Committee was advised that the Greater London Authority (GLA) maintained a database of such individuals, which was then fed into a national database, for use by local authorities when placing tenants and carrying out enforcement action.


Regarding crime and antisocial behaviour, the Council’s Community Safety Team were tasked with addressing such issues. Due to such actions being labour intensive, it was important to review all available data to ensure actions were being targeted appropriately.


The Committee thanked officers for the report, and suggested that the Strategy include additional detail regarding how the Council could ensure landlords and tenants were aware of their responsibilities, and how to notify the Council of any issues. In addition, it was requested that details regarding the future consultation survey for the draft Housing Strategy be sent to Committee members for dissemination to their constituents.




1.    That the report be noted;

2.    That the Strategy include Committee feedback as set out above, and;

3.    That officers provide Committee Members with future resident surveys.

Supporting documents: