To receive an update from the Chief Office for Housing in relation to housing activity during quarter 1 of 2021/22.
The report of the Chief Officer (Housing) provided an update on housing activity during quarter 1 of 2021/22.
Appended to the report included the Housing Activity Report – Quarter 1 2021/22.
The following were in attendance:
o Councillor Rafique, Executive Member for Communities
o Gerard Tinsdale, Chief Officer Housing
o Adam Crampton, Head of Property Management
o Nahim Ruhi-Khan, Head of Strategy and Investment
The Chief Officer Housing, introduced the report and provided the following information in relation to housing activity:
· 16k tenants have moved onto Universal Credit, and the challenges surrounding this;
· A face-to-face service has resumed with 237 walkabouts being carried out in quarter 1;
· The backlog of responsive repairs has reduced to 9k, although challenges remain with supply chain and labour market issues – the difficultly with building supplies has impacted on repairs and investment;
· There are currently 700 properties in void;
· There has been an increase in complaints regarding the delay in improving properties and responding to repairs. It was confirmed the service has been tweaked to ensure better engagement with customers and to also benefit social isolation;
· Homelessness is being prevented by 90%, putting Leeds in a strong position when compared against the national figure;
· Private sector housing colleagues are working with various agencies, landlords to identify ASB related issues and strengthening links with local authorities;
· The Housing Strategy Review is due for renewal, and consultation continues with a report being brought to the next Board meeting in November.
The Board discussed the following key matters:
· The effectiveness of communication between residents regarding the timeliness of repairs and the different forms of communication for elderly residents.
· Concerns regarding contractors not fulfilling repairs and communication between contractors and residents. It was noted that the new contract with MEARS set out new expectations and Key Performance Indicators. Additionally, it was reported that there has been a 15% reduction of responsive repairs recorded, albeit the demand is returning, and backlog is anticipated. It was of the opinion of officers that the backlog of repairs will be cleared by 1st April 2021, and it was confirmed that of those repairs, they are deemed non-essential.
· Wider issues relating to damp, and clarity on the type of properties suffering such issues. It was confirmed that there is a dedicated team to deal with complex repairs and there are strategies being developed to implement longer term actions. It was noted that the majority of properties were Pre-1919 stock and traditional brick properties;
· It was confirmed that issues relating to the extended lettings period is primarily due to covid safe practises and labour market issues.
· It was confirmed that updated information relating to contact details for housing offices across the city will be provided to Board members.
· The variety of issues associated with homeless people migrating into Leeds. It was confirmed that this was primarily due to domestic violence and abuse.
· Clarity on the process to regain housing stock.
· Clarity on the processes in place when dealing with landlords failing to apply or hold a licence. It was noted that a timescale on the time taken for enforcement action, will be provided to members outside of the meeting.
RESOLVED – To note the contents of the report and detailed update in relation to housing activity, together with comments raised during discussion of this item.