"Private sector housing strategy"
SOCIAL COMMITTEE ITEM 09 24 JANUARY 2008 Annexe 1 Private Sector Housing Strategy 2008-2011 Produced by: Environmental Health Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, Regulatory Services January 2008 To be reviewed annually If you have any comments on the Private Housing Strategy, please contact: Fergus Nash Environmental Health Officer Environmental Health Services Epsom & Ewell Borough Council Town Hall The Parade Epsom Surrey KT18 5BY Tel: 01372 732420 Email: email@example.com Private Sector Housing Strategy Contents CONTENTS 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 1. INTRODUCTION 4 2. PURPOSE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING STRATEGY 5 2.2 Links with Other Strategies 5 3. THE PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING STRATEGY 6 3.1 The strategic approach 6 3.2 Drivers of Change 6 3.3 Development of the Private Sector Housing Strategy Action Plan 7 3.4 Risk Assessment 7 4. THE WAY FORWARD: PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING ACTION PLAN 8 4.1 Action Plan 8 4.1.1 Private Sector Stock Condition information 8 4.1.2 Disrepair in the Borough 8 4.1.3 Note on the BRE 8 4.2 Objectives and Targets 9 4.2.1 Owner-occupied dwellings 9 4.2.2 Private Rented Sector 9 4.2.3 Target Setting 9 4.2.4 Proactive Housing Work 10 4.2.5 Service Requests / Complaints 10 4.2.6 Enforcement in the Private Rented Sector 11 4.3 Disabled Facilities Grants 11 4.3.1 Service targets Disabled Facilities Grant enquiries 11 4.3.2 Home Repair Assistance Grants 12 4.4 Improving Energy Efficiency 12 4.4.1Heat Project 12 4.4.2 Warm Front Grants 12 1 Private Sector Housing Strategy 4.4.3 Epsom and Ewell Energy Group 13 4.4.4 Surrey and East Sussex Energy Efficiency Advice Centre 13 4.4.5 Zero-In project 13 4.5 Sustainable Housing 13 4.6 Empty Properties 13 4.7 Decent Homes 14 4.8 Action Plan Monitoring 14 APPENDIX ONE: BACKGROUND INFORMATION 15 APPENDIX TWO: SWOT ANALYSIS 16 APPENDIX THREE: ACTION PLAN 17 APPENDIX FOUR: COMMITTEE REPORTS ON PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING 18 APPENDIX FIVE: DECENT HOMES 19 APPENDIX SIX: THE HOUSING HEALTH AND SAFETY RATING SYSTEM 20 APPENDIX SEVEN: RECORD OF COMPLAINTS / SERVICE REQUESTS 22 2 Private Sector Housing Strategy Executive Summary This document sets out Epsom and Ewell Borough Council’s Private Sector Housing Strategy for the period 2008 to 2011 and incorporates the strategic changes recommended in the Audit Commission’s report. Almost 90% of the housing stock in Epsom and Ewell is in the private sector, either privately rented or owner occupied (Census 2001). The quality and availability of housing in this sector is therefore critical in meeting the needs of current and future households. This strategy therefore sets out the following: Our plans to meet ‘Decent Homes’ obligations in the private sector How we are implementing the Housing Act 2004 and raising the quality of privately owned housing in the Borough Methods of working in Environmental Health Services - implemented following the Audit Commissions inspection of Affordable Housing (including private sector housing activities) in 2006 This strategy and the associated ‘Action Plan’ feeds into and informs the overarching Housing Strategy for the Borough. Whilst the Private Sector Housing Strategy focuses on the quality and suitability of private sector housing, the Housing Strategy concentrates on the availability of private sector housing to satisfy housing needs and prevent homelessness.’ 3 Private Sector Housing Strategy 1. Introduction More than 90% of housing in the borough of Epsom & Ewell is privately owned. The majority of homes are safe to live in, well heated and well maintained. Unfortunately this is not true in all cases and a Council commissioned stock condition survey plus subsequent statistical modelling showed the extent of disrepair and poor standards and the estimated cost of rectifying them. This strategy brings together our proposals for this sector in a single integrated document that states clearly how we can help improve living conditions and the health and well being of residents. The following chapters show how we have used the survey and other evidence to look at key facts and trends to propose how to prioritise investment and concentrate assistance where it is most badly needed. Further background information can be found in Appendix One. 4 Private Sector Housing Strategy 2. Purpose of the Private Sector Housing Strategy 2.1 Purpose and Objectives of the Private Sector Housing Strategy The purpose of the strategy is to provide a sound framework to carry out the Council’s statutory and non statutory obligations and to improve the social, environmental and economic well being of the communities they serve. The Strategy sets out the Council’s objectives and plan of action to meet those obligations in relation to private sector housing in the borough. The outcomes of adopting and implementing a Private Sector Housing Strategy will include; The improvement of energy efficiency housing in the Borough The increase in sustainable housing in the Borough The reduction of non Decent Homes. The improvement of the quality and standard of private rented properties in the Borough. There are two important Acts for the improvement of private sector housing. Housing Act 2004. This introduced the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This system provides for the determination of unsatisfactory housing conditions using statistical evidence and professional judgement. Where a category 1 hazard is identified using this method, the Council has a statutory obligation to consider action. Excessive cold and falls on stairs are two of the most common category one hazards. The Act also introduced a new licensing scheme for HMOs where by 3 storey Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's) have to meet minimum standards for amenities, management and fire precautions. This will only cover a minority of HMOs in the Borough (approximately twenty premises). Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA). This legislation introduced a target of gaining a 30% improvement in energy efficiency in all domestic accommodation between 1995 and 2010. 2.2 Links with Other Strategies This strategy should be read in conjunction with the adopted Housing Strategy Statement 2005 – 2008 the Fuel Poverty Strategy 2006, Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy and the Housing Enforcement Policy adopted in 2003 5 Private Sector Housing Strategy The Private Sector Housing Strategy has strong links with other strategies developed by the Council, as well as linking to the Council’s Key Priorities, as stated in the Corporate Plan 2007 to 2011. In 2007, the Council set out its ambition for the four years from 2007 to 2011 in its Corporate Plan. This Corporate Plan demonstrates how we will support the Borough’s Community Strategy and responds to the Government’s priorities. It sets out our Key Priorities, together with a family of supporting plans and strategies, shows how we will resource them and manage the organisation to secure their achievement and deliver continuous improvement. The Council’s ambition and Key Priorities are based on the needs and aspirations of local residents, as well as taking into consideration both the interest of our local partners, through the Community Strategy, and national government priorities. The Council’s key priorities are set out in the Corporate Plan, 2007 to 2011. The six Key Priorities are: 1. Cost effective recycling 2. Enhancing the visual appearance of local environment 3. Tackling anti-social behaviour 4. Championing health service improvement 5. Promoting sustainability and tackling issues of climate change 6. Enhancing services for young people This Strategy is most closely linked with the Key Priority ‘Promoting sustainability and tackling issues of climate change’ through the improvement of energy efficiency in dwellings in the borough. 3. The Private Sector Housing Strategy 3.1 The strategic approach The Housing Act requires local housing authorities to consider the housing conditions in the borough with a view to determining what action to take under the Act, which includes the duty and powers to deal with hazards under HHSRS or provide financial assistance with home repair or improvement. The purpose of this review is to ensure that the Council maintains a current awareness of the state of housing stock in the borough, so that it can come to well-informed judgements as to the action it needs to take. 3.2 Drivers of Change There are four that will have an impact on delivering the future possibility and way forward. Identifying these drivers for change will take us from current reality to future possibility. The drivers have been separated into internal and external drivers. 6 Private Sector Housing Strategy 3.3.1 The internal driver The internal driver is to support the Key Priority of; Promoting sustainability and tackling issues of climate change 3.3.2 External drivers External drivers include: Housing Act 2004 The Council is required to consider the housing conditions in the borough with a view to determining what action to take under the Act. The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA), introduces a national target to reduce CO2 emissions and improve domestic energy efficiency by 30% by the year 2010. HECA places the responsibility for achieving this target on local authorities. Decent Homes In 2002 the Decent Homes Standard was extended to include the private sector with the focus on reducing the proportion of vulnerable households livings in non- decent homes. The vulnerable groups are those in receipt of at least one of the principle means tested or disability related benefits. This standard was removed from the PSA targets in the 2007 review. 3.3 Development of the Private Sector Housing Strategy Action Plan Using the levers for change that had been identified in the diagnostic stage of developing the Strategy, investigation could commence into ‘what we could do’ to get to where we want to be regarding The Private Sector Housing Strategy between the years of 2007 and 2011. 3.4 Risk Assessment There are a number of risks (threats) in association with the Strategy which were identified in the diagnostic stage under ‘threats.’ These threats have been taken into consideration in identifying actions to get us to where we want to be, and considered in developing the Action Plan. Risks include: Lack of accurate information on the current condition of the Epsom & Ewell housing Stock. Lack of suitably trained officers to meet the targets set out within the Strategy. Poor public knowledge of the Environmental Health Service and the subsequent low level of reactive work. 7 Private Sector Housing Strategy A full copy of the threats identified in the SWOT analysis can be found in Appendix Two. 4. The Way Forward: Private Sector Housing Action Plan 4.1 Action Plan Implementation of the Private Sector Housing Strategy is through the actions listed in the Action Plan appendix 3. Time and cost implications are listed in the Action Plan. 4.1.1 Private Sector Stock Condition information Two sources of stock condition information are available. Stock Condition Survey 2002 This survey comprised 250 full inspections and 506 external inspections of dwellings in the owner-occupied, private rented and Registered Social Landlord sectors. British Research Establishment (BRE) Housing Condition Report 2006 This report provides estimates of local housing conditions at the level of the authority, ward and census output area using models developed by BRE which combine national data from the English Housing Condition Survey 2001 with local census data. The information is provided in tabular form at ward and authority level and the smaller output areas are mapped. It is important to note that data displayed in this report does not take account of changes to housing conditions since 2001. 4.1.2 Disrepair in the Borough The Stock Condition Survey, although a useful tool for providing supportive data for the BRE report, cannot be used to provide data for target setting within this strategy. At the time the survey was published disrepair was determined in terms of the unfitness standard. The term unfit has since become obsolete and it is now only relevant to view properties with regard to hazards as rated under the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System. A useful comparison between the two surveys is the estimate of 4,476 dwellings predicted to have a Category 1 Hazard under the Housing Health and Rating System*. This accounts for 17% of the stock compared to the 7.5% which would have been expected to be determined ‘unfit’ under Housing Fitness Standard as reported by the stock condition survey. * see Appendix Seven (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) 4.1.3 Note on the BRE The spatial survey data for the BRE is based on the condition of a property at the time it was built and it does not consider the condition of the property at the time the analysis was 8 Private Sector Housing Strategy undertaken. For example; an area of properties in the borough outlined as very poor for thermal comfort may have changed as the owners of the properties have invested in double glazed windows and suitable loft insulation since the property was first built. Therefore the report provides a worst case estimate of housing condition in the borough but provides information on which areas are most likely to require attention. To test the accuracy of the data displayed in the report; data from inspections will be over- laid on the BRE spatial data. 4.2 Objectives and Targets 4.2.1 Owner-occupied dwellings The Council does not have the resources to subsidise non-vulnerable owner-occupiers. It is the Council’s view that owners have the primary responsibility to maintain their own property and this is supported by current Government guidance (ODPM Circular 05/2003). If the property is empty or causing a nuisance action under the empty homes policy (see below) and/or enforcement action will be considered. Houses in disrepair occupied by vulnerable people will be included in the work undertaken to achieve the decent homes standard by 2010. 4.2.2 Private Rented Sector The Council has a statutory duty to take action to resolve category 1 hazards in the housing stock. The BRE survey estimated 17% of the housing stock within the borough would contain category 1 hazards*. A large proportion of these will fail due to the hazard of excessive cold. It is also important note that the portion that fail due to excessive cold fail to meet the requirements of the Decent Homes Standard as two of the four criteria to achieve this minimum standard will have been failed, ie lack of thermal comfort and presence of a category 1 hazard. The BRE provides a level of detail which allows the Council to target resources at particular areas where the highest percentage of Category 1* hazards exist. Through active promotion of grants and government incentives and through enforcement in the private rented sector, the Council will reduce the percentage of Category 1 properties in these areas. 4.2.3 Target Setting The current target for reduction of Category 1* properties in the borough is 30 properties per annum. The service allocates one full time equivalent officer to private sector housing work. It is likely that this target will not be achieved by reliance on reactive work received by the council (housing service requests) but will require a dual approach through both reactive and proactive work. Service requests received concerning defects in dwelling tend not to be uniformly distributed throughout the year and a balance between proactive and reactive work is required to reach this target on a monthly basis. * see Appendix Seven (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) 9 Private Sector Housing Strategy 4.2.4 Proactive Housing Work The larger part of the proactive work performed by the Environmental Health Service is in student accommodation in partnership with the surrounding colleges. This is only achievable through a close working relationship with the Accommodation officers at the local colleges any enabled through the colleges providing lists of properties, landlords and occupancy details. Proactive inspections will also be aimed at the areas of the borough most likely to be effected by Excess Cold Hazards. The BRE report will be used to identify these areas, to facilitate this activity, data in the BRE report will be available in the Council’s spatially enabled database as a layer in the GIS map. The three main methods that will be used to identify possible actionable private rented properties are; By Tenure Information gained through council tax records such as high level of tenure turnover, non payment of council tax through student exemption and properties listed as houses with multiple occupants. By Spatial Position Using the information available through the BRE report, areas indentified as being high risk will be the prioritised for inspection. By College List Lists of accommodation and landlord contact details are available through the local colleges. It is unlikely that these properties will be in grave disrepair and visits to such properties are usually to advise landlords on fire safety and their responsibility under the new fire safety Regulatory Reform Order. These visits also strengthen the relationship between the local colleges, the landlords and the Council 4.2.5 Service Requests / Complaints The Council is committed to providing good services and have set key service standards which it will aim to achieve. Performance against these standards will be monitored and included in reports to our key partners and will be available to the wider community. Information about service standards is incorporated into a leaflet available on the website and from the Council offices on request. Working Days Service targets all enquiries Service Standards We have set out standards for the Service so that the most serious or immediate problems or requests are dealt with first. We aim to meet the following targets for our initial response: - “Response " means that we will start our action by the person who will deal with the enquiry making a phone call or a visit. You will be advised what action we will take, when and who by. If we cannot help, you will be given an explanation. 10 Private Sector Housing Strategy Level One Response on the same day – for serious or extensive public health problems. Level Two Response within 3 days – public health complaints (such as infestations or bad odours) or HMO licence queries. Level Three Response within 5 days – for other complaints, minor housing disrepair or less serious health and safety complaints. Level Four Response within 10 days – for non-urgent grant enquiries 4.2.6 Enforcement in the Private Rented Sector All enforcement undertaken under the Housing must comply with the procedures of the Environmental Health enforcement policy as adopted by the Council and the Enforcement Concordat. Appropriate enforcement action will be taken in cases where the hazard poses a severe risk to the current occupants. Depending on the category of hazard that the housing defect poses to a vulnerable group, the Council may take action to mitigate the risk. It is not the duty of the service to enforce action against landlords in all cases of reported disrepair, only when the defect poses harm to the occupants will statutory action be taken. 4.3 Disabled Facilities Grants The Council will continue to offer mandatory disabled facilities grants to owner occupiers or tenants who need adaptations to their property for a disabled member of the household. The Council will continue to comply with its duty under the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 to offer disabled facilities grant up to a maximum of £25,000. The purpose of the grant is to help with the cost of essential adaptations to give an occupant better freedom of movement into and around their home and to access essential facilities within it. The service will be delivered through Epsom & Ewell Grants team. 4.3.1 Service targets Disabled Facilities Grant enquiries To achieve 90% compliance with the service standards as below: 1. Number of grants compliant with 14-day target between a) Occupational Therapists report received (duly made date) and b) applicant assessment visit. 2. Number of grants compliant with 56 day (statutory 6 month) target between a) user / surveyor /makes application and b) approval issued to user / surveyor / agent. 3. Number of grants compliant with 28 day target between a) notification of works completed received and b) final payment. A specific joint protocol exists to deal with service requests concerning disrepair in Rosebery Housing Association property. Complaints are referred initially to Rosebery housing managers to resolve the issue prior to Council officers investigating. 11 Private Sector Housing Strategy Upon receipt of a complaint regarding a property an officer will visit the property and undertake an assessment of property under the HHSRS. 4.3.2 Home Repair Assistance Grants These grants are available to owner occupiers and tenants for works which will prevent hospitalisation, or which will reduce the need for additional health care for the applicant. Also, where owner-occupiers are in imminent danger due to the condition of their home, Home Repair Assistance may be available. The maximum grant available is £2000 and in exceptional cases this can rise to £5000. Examples of work undertaken are as follows: Repairs to prevent the ingress of damp to a property, such as roof repairs and replacement guttering. Individual window replacement if the window is beyond repair. Repair of a faulty boiler or replacement of a condemned boiler 4.4 Improving Energy Efficiency The Home Energy Conservation Act 1995 (HECA), introduces a national target to reduce CO2 emissions and improve domestic energy efficiency by 30% by the year 2010. HECA places the responsibility for achieving this target on local authorities. As already discussed, the BRE report makes it possible to identify geographical areas in the borough that lack suitable insulation and efficient central heating, in taking action with relation to these types of dwelling the Council will be able to improve energy efficiency within this percentage of the housing stock and thereby help to meet the targets set out in the 1995 Act. The Council will promote energy efficiency through various initiates ranging from pro-active advice, promotion of grants and services available from central government and other agencies and enforcement in the private rented sector under the HHSRS*. The grants and loans on offer include; The improvement of energy efficiency in the boroughs housing stock is supported by the Key priority of Promoting sustainability and tackling issues of climate change. 4.4.1Heat Project Heat Surrey is supported by the Council to provide grants and discounted prices to insulate loft and cavity walls. The heat project enables everyone to obtain help towards loft and cavity insulation regardless of age, income or savings. * see Appendix Six (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) 4.4.2 Warm Front Grants The Warm Front Team is a government funded scheme which provides grants to make homes warmer and more energy efficient. Promotion through advice will be provided by the Councils Grants team and by the following agencies; 12 Private Sector Housing Strategy 4.4.3 Epsom and Ewell Energy Group The Epsom and Ewell Energy Group was set up to provide advice and information on energy matters to local residents and to encourage energy efficiency improvements in their homes. 4.4.4 Surrey and East Sussex Energy Efficiency Advice Centre The Centre offers independent advice, information on energy efficiency. 4.4.5 Zero-In project The Energy Centre for Sustainable Communities (ECSC) run the Surrey and East Sussex Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (SESSEAC) and has through the advice centre launched the Zero-In project. The Zero-In project will aim to generate installations of energy efficiency measures in the most cost effective way possible. This will be achieved by conducting concentrated marketing campaigns in neighbourhoods specifically chosen by analysis of demographic and building related datasets. The Council agreed to fund this survey at the November 2007 meeting of the Social Committee. Based on this work, energy efficiency publicity materials will be targeted at those areas identified to be in need of improvements. 4.5 Sustainable Housing Emissions of greenhouse gas, particularly carbon dioxide, are the main cause of climate change. The UK emitted more than 550 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005. Energy use in buildings accounted for nearly half of these emissions, and more than a quarter came from the energy we use to heat, light and run our homes. The Council has already in place a strong programme to secure reductions in emissions from the domestic sector through promoting efficiency and conservation. This programme includes: action to promote voluntary energy conservation programmes such as the HEAT and the Warm Front scheme, and action via proactive inspections and enforcement under the HHSRS in relation to Category 1 Excessive Cold* dwellings in the private rented sector * see Appendix Seven (Housing Health and Safety Rating System 4.6 Empty Properties Council Tax records indicate that as at March 2007 there were 775 empty properties in Epsom and Ewell of which 298 are considered to be ‘long term empty’ (vacant for more than six months). This represents approximately 2.6% of the total housing stock in the Borough and although some properties remain vacant for a variety of good reasons e.g. awaiting probate or undergoing re-development it is acknowledged that an empty home represents a wasted resource in an area of such chronic housing shortage. The Council is currently revising the resources (both financial and staffing) that it dedicates to the issue of empty homes. At present a variety of approaches are used to encourage and persuade the owners of empty homes to bring them back into use. 13 Private Sector Housing Strategy 4.7 Decent Homes In 2002 the Decent Homes Standard was extended to include the private sector with the focus on reducing the proportion of vulnerable households livings in non-decent homes. The vulnerable groups are those in receipt of at least one of the principle means tested or disability related benefits. The Government’s Decent Home Target Implementation Plan sets out a trajectory for delivering that includes targets for specific years up to 2020, expressed as the proportion of vulnerable households in the private sector living in decent homes. The relevant target percentages are 65% by 2006, 70% by 2010 and 75% by 2020. Most recently the main government guidance on decent homes has been updated. The updated document “A Decent Home: The definition and guidance for implementation: June 2006 Update” reviews progress made and restates targets, but also clarifies various issues that have arisen. These include a significant change in the way non decent homes are measured i.e. the replacement of the Fitness Standard by the Housing Health and Rating System as the means of assessing minimum standards of housing. This is one of the four components of the Decent Homes Standard. This is an important change, as nationally around a million dwellings failed the fitness standard whereas closer to 4 million are expected to contain a Category 1 hazard under the Rating System. This is mainly because of the hazard from excessive cold which affects a greater proportion of homes than any other hazard and contributes the 40,000 excess winter deaths. 4.8 Action Plan Monitoring The action plan will be monitored through target setting and the meeting of such targets within the set time restraints. Other monitoring will include a general appraisal of the housing stock through reactive inspections and assessments of decent homes in the borough A detailed Action Plan can be found in Appendix Three. 14 Private Sector Housing Strategy Appendix One: Background Information The Council 2007 corporate Key Priority of Championing Health Service Improvements. Although the Council is not in a position to provide any of these services, it is in the unique position of being able to improve the health of its residents through improved housing conditions. The strong link between housing and health has been demonstrated since the 19th Century and has been supported by many national spending reviews and priorities since. Through achieving improvement to housing conditions the Council will reduce ill health caused by poor housing conditions and thus reduce the need for residents to visit their local health services. The Council is committed to its responsibilities as local housing authority and seeks to continuously improve its performance in this area. This was reflected in the extra staffing resource allocated to the improvement and enforcement of private sector housing in 2007. 15 Private Sector Housing Strategy Appendix Two: SWOT Analysis Strengths Presently the Environmental Health Service has suitable staff resources to meet the targets set out within the strategy. The Environmental Health Service has a strong working relationship with landlords and colleges in the Borough. Weaknesses Contemporary housing stock condition information is not available. The areas of the private rented sector available for inspection through the colleges, is not the highly vulnerable group that require most support. Opportunities Through proactive and reactive inspection the Environmental Health Service will compile a detailed database on housing in the Borough. Threats Lack of suitably trained officers to implement the strategy in the future. Variation and lack of conformity with other Boroughs within Surrey. 16 Private Sector Housing Strategy Appendix Three: Action Plan Actions Resource Implications EEBC Comments Required Outcomes Responsible Time Cost Resource Officer (1-off / ongoing) 1 Enabling BRE map layers on 1 day £0 cost One off GIS Officer To enable areas of poor database except for thermal efficiency to be GIS identified spatially officer’s time 2 Obtaining council tax records ½ day £0 except Ongoing Environmental To identify high turn over for Health Officers of occupants which might council indicate private rented tax property and exempt officer’s properties such as student time lets. 3 Obtaining lists of addresses 1 week £0 except Ongoing Environmental This is an ongoing To identify privately let from local colleges for where Health Officers process since properties properties with a view to colleges come and go proactive inspection require payment 4 Inspecting target properties Annually Existing Annually Environmental To mitigate the risk from based on criteria in 4.1.5 staffing Health Officers housing hazards to target of 30 category 1 in resource occupants of properties in 2008-2009 the Borough 17 Private Sector Housing Strategy Appendix Four: Committee reports on Private Sector Housing Social committee March 2007 Progress Report following inspection of the housing service November 2006 Progress Report following inspection of the housing service November 2006 Action following the inspection of the affordable housing function – Decent homes and private sector housing November 2006 Housing grants and housing renovation/improvement assistance November 2006 Fuel poverty strategy November 2006 HMO Licensing July 2006 Disabled facilities grants processing/home improvement agencies March 2006 Action following the inspection of the affordable housing function November 2005 Enforcement policy for private rented housing 18 Appendix Five: Decent Homes Decent Homes Description The Government’s definition of a ‘decent home’ is one which: a) Meets the statutory minimum standard for houses (those that fail will contain one or more hazards assessed as serious – category 1 – under HHSRS) b) Is in a reasonable state of repair c) Has reasonably modern facilities and services (those that fail are those that lack three or more of the following): a reasonably modern kitchen (20 years old or less) a kitchen with adequate space and layout a reasonably modern bathroom (30 years old or less) an appropriately located bathroom and WC adequate insulation against external noise (where external noise is a problem) A home lacking two or fewer of the above is still classed as decent, therefore it is not necessary to modernise kitchens and bathrooms if a home meets the remaining criteria d) Provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort i.e. has both effective insulation and efficient heating Definition of vulnerable person for the purposes of the decent homes standard is someone in receipt of one of the following: Income support Housing benefit Council tax benefit Income based job seekers allowance Working families tax credit Attendance allowance Disability living allowance Industrial injuries disablement benefit War disablement pension Working tax credit which includes a disability element and household income of less than £14,200 Child tax credit with a household income of less than £14,200 Pension credit 19 Appendix Six: The Housing Health and Safety Rating System The Housing Health and Safety Rating System The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS or the Rating System) is the Government’s new approach to the evaluation of the potential risks to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. The HHSRS, although not in itself a standard, has been introduced as a replacement for the Housing Fitness Standard. The HHSRS is founded on the logical evaluation of both the likelihood of an occurrence that could cause harm, and the probable severity of the outcomes of such an occurrence. It relies on the informed professional judgements of both of these to provide a simple means of representing the severity of any dangers present in a dwelling. The Rating System is concerned with the assessment of hazards; that is the potential effect of conditions. The HHSRS is evidence-based. It is supported by extensive reviews of the literature and by detailed analyses of statistical data on the impact of housing conditions on health. The assessment using the HHSRS is made based on the condition of the whole dwelling. This means that, before such an assessment can be made, a thorough inspection of the dwelling must be carried out to collect the evidence of the condition. The HHSRS concentrates on threats to health and safety. It is generally not concerned with matters of quality, comfort and convenience. However, in some cases, such matters could also have an impact on a person’s physical or mental health or safety and so can be considered. Also, as the Rating System is about the assessment of hazards (the potential effect of conditions), the form of construction and the type and age of the dwelling do not directly affect an assessment. However, these matters will be relevant to determining the cause of any problem and so indicate the nature of any remedial action. There are 29 hazards and these have been arranged into 4 main groups reflecting the basic health requirements: PHYSIOLOGICAL REQUIREMENTS 1. Damp and mould growth 2. Excess cold 3.Excess heat 4 Asbestos (and MMF) 5 Biocides 6 Carbon Monoxide and fuel combustion products 7 Lead 8 Radiation 9 Uncombusted fuel gas 10 Volatile Organic Compounds PSYCHOLOGICAL REQUIREMENTS 11. Crowding and space 12. Entry by intruders 13. Lighting 14. Noise PROTECTION AGAINST INFECTION 15. Domestic hygiene, Pests and Refuse 20 16. Food safety 17. Personal hygiene, Sanitation and Drainage 18. Water supply PROTECTION AGAINST ACCIDENTS 19. Falls associated with baths etc 20. Falling on level surfaces etc 21. Falling on stairs etc 22. Falling between levels 23. Electrical hazards 24. Fire 25. Flames, hot surfaces etc 26. Collision and entrapment 27. Explosions 28. Position and operability of amenities etc 29. Structural collapse and falling elements The HHSRS uses judgements made by the inspector, based on an inspection of the whole dwelling, to generate a numerical score. The information observed during the inspection should be properly and accurately recorded as this will provide evidence to justify and support the judgements which form the basis of the numerical Hazard Score. 21 Appendix Seven: Record of Complaints / Service Requests Data from the database of recorded (complaints/service requests) 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08* Housing complaints 53 49 44 52 60 77 * up to 17/12/07 22