Agenda item

Private Rented Sector

Update from councillor Mark Williams.


6.1  The chair welcomed Councillor Mark Williams and John Daley (Environmental Health & Trading Standards Manager) to this evening’s meeting. It was also noted that the Southwark Private Sector Standard was included in the papers for tonight’s meeting.


6.2  Councillor Williams stated the purpose of the of the private rental standard was to improve standards for tenants and landlords. Letters had been sent out to landlords and tenants explaining what was expected from both parties. Articles were published in the spring and circulated to all concerned as well as information on the website for tenants, landlords and letting agencies.


6.3  Members were also informed that newsletters had been despatched to 50,000 people along with twitter feeds, adverts placed in the Southwark news and adverts at bus tops.


6.4  Councillor Williams informed members that the accreditation project in respect of the private rented standard had been consulted on last year highlighting management and maintenance and guidance that had been provided to landlords and tenants. The document outlined what was expected from each party.


6.5  The report regarding temporary accommodation was agreed at cabinet in December 2013 and was now active.


6.6  The structure of the standard was split into two parts, the first being how the property will be managed before and after the occupation as well as what services will be provided to the resident. The second describes the standard of condition, maintenance and repair of the property during the letting.


6.7  The chair asked how many people were placed in temporary accommodation by the council that would need to meet the standard? The officer stated that it would take roughly 6 months to get through the list of 600 private lettings that the council presently use and it is a matter of getting our own house in order first.


6.8  The chair asked if the scheme could be applied to a specific part of the borough and would someone be able to avoid it by arguing that it would not apply in other parts of the borough? The officer reported that officers would need to apply the scheme to parts of the borough at first rather than the whole borough. There would be problems such as staffing the work which would need to be undertaken. It would need to start with 3 or 4  of wards at first and increase over time to other parts of the borough.


6.9  The officer went on to explain that recruitment and staff training had started, and the health and safety training for staff will be completed by July 2014.


6.10  Officers were working closely with the contractors in developing the appropriate software package.


6.11  A member of the sub-committee asked what the upfront cost would be expected to be? The officer reported that the finance was still being worked on, but it was estimated to be approximately £80,000.


6.12  A member of the sub-committee asked if the report covered keeping properties safe from vermin and infestation? The officer pointed out this aspect was covered on page 28 paragraph 2.


6.13  The officer reported that consultation on the Southwark Standard was now completed and what is expected of private landlords is clearly known. Everyone who provides this service were included in the review from letting agents to students. Members were informed that what Southwark has asked for is essentially much what was expected nationally.


6.14  The chair asked whether as a landlord the council falls short of the scheme? The officer explained that the council had the Warm, Dry Safe initiative and a number of other schemes which proves that we are trying to drive up standards. Members were also informed that the call centre was now back in house and provided a much improved service.


6.15  Councillor Hickson requested that officers report back with further information regarding infestation with regards to private rented sector.


6.16  The chair thanked Councillor Williams and John Daley for attending tonight’s meeting.



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