Issue - meetings

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Meeting: 14/07/2016 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019) (Item 30)

30 Private Sector Housing Policy (post-consultation) pdf icon PDF 113 KB

The Head of Planning and Regulatory Services has submitted a report which provides the results from the consultation exercise carried out for the draft Private Sector Housing Policy 2016-2019 and seeks approval from members to approve the policy. The policy sets out the present baseline conditions of Oxford’s private rented sector housing and how Council services have been working to improve those conditions. It then sets out how the Council will address the complex issues that affect the sector from 2016-2019.

 

Recommendations: That the City Executive Board resolves to:

1.    Consider the report of the consultation on the Private Sector Housing Policy 2016-2019 and note the findings attached at Appendix 2;

2.    Approve the Private Sector Housing Policy 2016 – 2019 attached at Appendix 1.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Planning and Regulatory Services submitted a report which detailed the results from the consultation exercise carried out for the draft Private Sector Housing Policy 2016-2019 and sought approval of the policy. The policy sets out the present baseline conditions of Oxford’s private rented sector housing and how Council services have been working to improve those conditions. It then sets out how the Council will address the complex issues that affect the sector from 2016-2019.

 

 Cllr Hollingsworth Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services presented the report.   He explained that the policy set out the potential extension of a licensing scheme. But reiterated that there are many elements to overcome first ie legal matters, regulations, statement of intent and resource implications before the Council could consider an extension. Any future licensing scheme might be sector focus rather than a blanket approach.

 

Cllr Turner pointed out the issues with the bottom end of the private rental sector where tenants don’t have the option to pick and choose their homes as there are so few available. 

 

The Environmental Health Services Manager said that the consultation plan was broadly similar to the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licencing scheme’s one.  The poor response reflected the Council’s budget not that officers did not try hard to get the public to engage.

 

Cllr Brown said that many tenants were scared of raising housing issues for fear of being issued an eviction notice. The Council does not want to see the private rental sector shrink just better homes and landlords.

 

Cllr Sinclair asked whether there had been an increase in the rental sector in neighbouring authorities due to the City’s HMO licencing scheme.

 

The Environmental Health Services Manager said he had asked the district councils whether they had seen a change and had found it surprising that the councils had reported no significant increase in the private rental market.

 

The City Executive Board resolves to:

 

1.    CONSIDER the report of the consultation on the Private Sector Housing Policy 2016-2019 and NOTE the findings attached at Appendix 2;

 

2.    APPROVE the Private Sector Housing Policy 2016 – 2019 attached at Appendix 1.

 

 


Meeting: 07/07/2016 - Housing Panel (Panel of the Scrutiny Committee) (Item 58)

58 Private Sector Housing Policy pdf icon PDF 113 KB

 

 

Background information

The Housing Panel pre-scrutinised the Private Sector Housing Policy at the pre-consultation stage and made five recommendations to the City Executive Board.  The Panel agreed to pre-scrutinise the Policy again following the public consultation.

Why is it on the agenda?

The Panel asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.  This is an opportunity for the Panel to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Cllr Bob Price, Board Member for Corporate Strategy & Economic Development;

·         Ian Wright, Environmental Health Service Manager;

·         Michael Browning, Private Sector Safety Team Leader.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board Member for Corporate Strategy & Economic Development introduced the report.  He said that the consultation feedback had generally been positive but only 17% percent of respondents had been landlords, so there was a need to proceed with care.  Respondents had generally supported the Councils aims which included focusing on energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, food poverty and beds in sheds.  This report would set the strategic framework for future interventions in the private rented sector.  Legal advice would be sought prior to the development of a selective licensing scheme, which would be subject to a public consultation and at least two further reports to the City Executive Board.  The intention was that the scheme would be self-funding and reflect the range of conditions in the private rented sector.

 

The Panel asked a number of questions including about the scale and risks around the roll-out of a selective licensing scheme, and how good landlords would be encouraged and rewarded.  The Panel heard that the preference was for selective licensing to be rolled-out city-wide because all but three wards could already be considered to have a high proportion of privately rented properties.  However, approval from DCLG will be required for such a scheme. There was a need to get good landlords onside from the beginning and fee structures would be set to encourage good practices, as with the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupations (HMOs), while robust enforcement action provided a deterrent.

 

The Panel also asked about the illegal subdivision of HMOs andissues around Airbnb properties.  The Panel heard that these were complex issues and that action had already been taken regarding a landlord who had illegally subdivided properties in an attempt to avoid HMO licensing. The Environmental Health Service Manager explained the circumstances in which these might be properties of interest to his team, for example if an Airbnb property was advertised with breakfast included. 

 

The Panel questioned measures to improve energy ratings and the possible use of social prescribing to improve housing conditions.  The Panel heard that it was now a legal requirement for landlords to provide an Energy Performance Certificate and the Council was targeting the poorest performing properties.  Social prescribing had been tried in other areas and a housing and health cost calculator had been developed and is being used but there was a need to convince health partners such as the local Clinical Commissioning Group to invest in prevention.  The Board Member said that closer working between health and housing formed part of the Council’s devolution proposal and the new development at Barton Park had been awarded with Healthy City status.

 

The Panel considered the consultation methodology and questioned the locations and outcomes of road show events, the use of social media and whether feedback was provided to respondents.  The Panel heard that the choice of locations was based on findings from a previous consultation.  The Panel noted that future consultations on specific schemes were likely to attract a bigger response than the overarching Policy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58


Meeting: 11/02/2016 - City Executive Board (became Cabinet on 13 May 2019) (Item 180)

180 Private Sector Housing Policy (pre-consultation) pdf icon PDF 122 KB

The Executive Director of Regeneration & Housing has submitted a report which presents a draft Private Sector Housing Policy for discussion and amendment prior to public consultation.

 

Recommendations: That the City Executive Board resolves to:

 

1.            Approve the draft Private Sector Housing Policy 2016 – 2019 for public consultation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director of Regeneration & Housing submitted a report which presented a draft Private Sector Housing Policy for discussion and amendment prior to public consultation.

 

The Board Member, Corporate Strategy and Economic Development presented the report and thanked officers for their work. He highlighted the following points:

·         The Council’s Award winning Additional HMO Licensing Scheme is a major plank in the Council’s approach to regulating and improving some of the worst housing stock in Oxford. The Licensing Scheme  will be maintained and further refined and improved, with a greater focus on unlicensed HMOs

·         Regulation and Improvement of Continuing and extending the proactive work being carried out in the non-HMO rented sector to regulate and improve Dwellings Occupied by Families or Single Occupants

·         Identifying and introducing a Selective Licensing Scheme to deal with poor management and property conditions and address anti-social behaviour associated with non-HMO privately rented properties

·         Dealing with unlawful developments being used as substandard accommodation and ensuring that “beds in sheds” do not become an accepted feature of the PRS in Oxford

·         Continuing to support some of the most vulnerable people in Oxford by providing facilities which enable them to live in their own homes with dignity, and provide support allowing them to get home from hospital

·         Enabling funding for home improvements for owner-occupied properties in poor condition.

 

In discussion the Board noted that there was no single source of information on the numbers of privately rented properties in the city.  Officers drew on a variety of data sources including census data and publicly available information from estate agents.  For this reason the Board felt that the number of private rented properties in the city detailed in the report was probably understated.

 

The Board learnt that this scheme would seek to replicate the HMO licensing scheme and learn from that process. The consultation was part of the evidence gathering and a further report covering the results of the consultation and setting out the detailed arrangements for the scheme would be submitted later in the year.

 

The Board noted with concern the growing public misconception that the HMO licensing scheme had contributed to the increase in rents across the city. They agreed that this needed to be challenged and corrected.  The Executive Director of Regeneration & Housing undertook to include a rebuttal statement as part of the consultation.

 

The City Executive Board resolved to:

1.            Approve the draft Private Sector Housing Policy 2016 – 2019 for public consultation.

 

Councillor Turner left the meeting during consideration of this item.


Meeting: 01/02/2016 - Housing Panel (Panel of the Scrutiny Committee) (Item 27)

27 Private Sector Housing Policy pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Background information

 

The City Executive Board on 11 February 2016 will be asked to approve the draft Private Sector Housing Policy 2016 – 2019 for public consultation.

 

Why is it on the agenda?

 

The Panel has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.  This is an opportunity for the Panel to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

 

The Panel is recommended to:

i)             Note the content of the report;

ii)            Make any recommendations it sees fit;

iii)           Consider when it may wish to receive any future update on the Private Sector Housing Policy (e.g. post-consultation).

 

Who has been invited to comment?

 

Councillor Bob Price, Leader and Board Member for Regulation and Licensing of Private Rented Sector

Ian Wright, Environmental Health Service Manager

Michael Browning, Private Sector Safety Team Leader

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Environmental Health Service Manager introduced the report.  The Panel heard that Oxford had a relatively high proportion of private rented accommodation and relatively low levels of owner-occupation.  In an otherwise deregulatory era, Government was strengthening the regulation of this sector.  The new private sector housing policy sat under the Council’s Housing Strategy.

 

The Panel asked a wide range of questions, including about; how the Council can identify other properties owned by landlords, whether more could be done to return empty properties to use, what was being done to address the issue of beds in sheds and how any priority area for the selected licensing of non-HMO private rented sector accommodation would be evaluated.  The Panel heard that the Council would need permission to introduce a selective licensing scheme covering more than 20% of the geographical area of the city.  Any assessment of priority areas for selective licensing would be based on how best to maximise the stock that would be covered by the scheme, as well as the volumes of service requests and reports of anti-social behaviour in different parts of the city.  Ideally the sector would pay for its own regulation, as happens with HMO licensing.

 

The Panel questioned how tenants in the private rented sector would be encouraged to engage in the consultation and heard that this was a challenge with the exception of students as private rented sector tenants were disparate and not formally organised in groups. 

 

The Panel noted that the Council’s primary focus to date had been on regulating the houses in multiple occupation (HMO) market.  The Panel questioned the links and information sharing between the HMO enforcement and planning enforcement functions and found that the while some checks were in place, the Council could not legally refuse a HMO license application on the basis that planning permission had not been sought or granted.  Refusals could only be based on the condition of the property and a fit and proper person test.

 

The Panel questioned what could be done to address the issue of rubbish or bulky items being left outside HMOs, for example when students vacate these properties at the end of term.  The Panel heard that there were various enforcement options the Council could use, including serving a notice on the landlord to remove items within 7 days and the option of works in default, where the Council could remove the items and bill the landlord.  In the event that the landlord then refused to pay, a charge could be held against the property until such a time as it was sold. 

 

The Panel questioned how residents could report an unlicensed HMOs or an HMO in poor repair and heard that this facility was available online. 

 

The Panel agreed to scrutinise a refresh of the Council’s Empty Property Strategy and will have the opportunity to scrutinise the Private Sector Housing Strategy again following the public consultation.

 

The Panel supported the general approach taken and agreed to make five recommendations to the City  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27