Issue - decisions
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.
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.