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					Delivering Decent Homes in the
Private Sector


Guidance for implementation in the
North West




1
Foreword

The North West has some of the most severe problems of private sector disrepair in the
country. Tackling this is critical to improving the quality of life for many of our residents but it
is an increasingly complex field. This guidance has been put together by a number of
leading private sector renewal exponents in the North West to highlight key areas of policy
and good practice.

The Regional Housing Board in its 2005 Regional Housing Strategy has the delivery of the
PSA7 as one of its key four priorities. Of major importance to us, the market renewal
programmes in the region have linked development of their interventions to a good quality
and sustainable private sector.

The Document has been put together with the help of the Private Sector Housing
Networking Group in the North West. The Group was formed through the GONW to look at
mutual support, sharing of good practice, and where possible developing common
methodologies for delivery of private sector renewal.

The purpose of this document is to provide basic practical advice to deliver the PSA7 target
in the private sector. It is aimed at supporting the national guidance available from the
ODPM. The guidance is not a legal document and LAs are advised to use this in conjunction
with other good practice guidance issued by ODPM or other agencies and to seek their own
legal advice on areas of uncertainty.

It is important to acknowledge that this is the very first iteration of this work, we recognise
that this is a fast moving agenda and that there are many more examples of good practice in
the region than we have covered in detail here. We would welcome your comments and
contributions to keep this document fresh and up to date. If you wish to add to this guidance
or to highlight areas you feel need updating please contact
James.Pilkington@gonw.gsi.gov.uk

We hope this guidance will help its users in successfully delivering the required targets as
well as other aspects of the private sector renewal.

Finally we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in
putting together this Guidance, particularly John Simm, Vicky Whittle, Paul Gordziejewicz,
Shaun Robinson and Mohammed Athar - the members of the Drafting Sub Group.


On behalf of the North West Regional Housing Board


Pete Bailey                                                     Sue Powell
Government Office for the North West                            North West Housing Forum




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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CONTENTS

Foreword                                                                       1

1.0     Background and Regional Context                                        3

2.0     The Decent Homes Standard                                              4
2.1     Application                                                            4
2.2     Definition – What is a Decent Home                                     4
2.3     Who is Vulnerable?                                                     5
2.3.1   National Minimum Definition                                            5
2.3.2   Local Definitions                                                      5
2.4     Vulnerable Households in Non-Decent Homes                              6

3.0     Implementation                                                         7
3.1     Targets                                                                7
3.2     Implications                                                           8

4.0     Private Sector Housing Strategy and Delivery Policies                  9
4.1     Strategy Development                                                   9
4.2     Private Sector Housing Strategy                                        9
4.3     Housing Assistance Policies                                            10

5.0     Working in Partnership                                                 11

6.0     Option Appraisal                                                       13

7.0     Delivery Tools
7.1     Grant Assistance                                                       14
7.2     Loan Assistance                                                        14
7.2.1   Loan Delivery Mechanisms                                               15
7.3     Packages of Loan and Grant                                             17
7.4     Supporting Purchase and Relocation                                     17
7.5     Other Forms of Assistance for Housing Renewal                          18
7.6     Enforcement Policy                                                     18

8.0     Monitoring Progress                                                    20
8.1     Establishing Baseline                                                  20
8.2     Stock Condition                                                        22
8.3     Monitoring Ongoing Performance Against Targets                         23

Appendix 1 Private Sector Renewal Commissioning Round 1 Projects               25
Appendix 2 Contact List                                                        27
Appendix A Examples of Decent Homes Assessment Forms                           29
           Stockport Criteria                                                  29
           Wirral Proforma                                                     30
           Manchester Proforma                                                 32
Appendix B Notes on Income Related Benefits                                    35
Appendix C Housing Strategies „Fit for Purpose‟ Criteria                       36
Appendix D Guidance on Loan Administration                                     40
Appendix E Notes on Equity Release Loans                                       41
Appendix F Stock Condition Survey Flow Chart (Manchester)                      43
Appendix G Defects/Hazards Common Private Sector Stock (Manchester)            44




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1.0    Background And Regional Context

       In July 2000, following its Spending Review, the Government announced a
       significant increase in resources for housing, especially social housing. As part of its
       desire to link increased spending to better outcomes, the Government established a
       target to : “ensure that all social housing meets set standards of decency by 2010, by
       reducing the number of households living in social housing that does not meet these
       standards by a third between 2001 and 2004, with most of the improvements taking
       place in the most deprived local authority areas.”

       As part of the 2002 Spending Review, the Public Service Agreement 7 (PSA) target
       to make all homes in the social sector decent by 2010 was extended to include
       private sector homes.

       The wording of the target in relation to private sector homes should be read to
       mean:

       “….and, for vulnerable households in the private sector, including families with
       children, increase the proportion who live in homes that are in decent condition.”

       The definition of a decent home applies equally to the social and private sectors. A
       decent home is one that:

       • meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing;
       • is in a reasonable state of repair;
       • has reasonably modern facilities and services;
       • provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.

       The definition is explained in more detail in ODPM guidance „A decent home – the
       revised definition and guidance for implementation‟ and will also be covered later in
       this document.

       The decent homes programme has been extended to help vulnerable people who
       own their own homes or rent them from private landlords. Targets have been
       established which aim to make sure that at least 70% of vulnerable households
       within the private sector live in decent homes by 2010.

       Primarily through the powers introduced by the 2002 Regulatory Reform Order, the
       North West‟s Local Authorities have been at the forefront of developing tools to
       support improvements in private sector housing. In particular, the region has led the
       way in developing loan products to enable homeowners to carry out repair or
       improvement work. We have also played a leading role in the development of
       schemes to actively promote higher standards across the private rented sector; tying
       in decency standards to landlord accreditation and licensing schemes is a
       challenging but important aspect to this work. Many of the region‟s Local Authorities
       have established or work closely with Home Improvement Agencies, tailoring repair
       and support services for vulnerable households.

       The Regional Housing Board strongly supports and encourages work of this kind and
       has funded a number of Local Authorities through its first commissioning round to
       develop good practice around the delivery of private sector renewal. The Board
       continues to actively promote regional networks and good practice dissemination to
       assist Local Authorities in this complex field. A list of projects assisted through the
       commissioning rounds is contained in Appendix 1.



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2.0    The Decent Home standard

2.1    Application

       The definition applies to all dwellings whether or not they are occupied or vacant.
       Reductions in the numbers of non-decent homes can be brought about through
       either investment in those homes to make them decent or through demolition /
       enforcement action were a Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment process concludes
       that this is the most satisfactory course of action.

       It is intended that all privately owned properties should be included within the Target,
       including sheltered and supported housing in the private sector. The target also
       applies to houses which have an element of shared ownership with a Registered
       Social Landlord, given that the repairing obligation rests with the private leaseholder
       although the RSL may have a power to enforce repairing obligations.

2.2    Definition – What is a Decent Home?

       The ODPM Guidance 2004a– “A Decent Home – The Definition and Guidance For
       Implementation” contains the following definition:

       A decent home is one which is wind and weather tight, warm and has modern
       facilities.

       A decent home meets the following four criteria:

       a) - It meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing

       Dwellings below this standard are those defined as containing a Category One
       Hazard under Part One of the Housing Act 2004.

       b) - It is in a reasonable state of repair

       Dwellings which fail to meet this criterion are those where either:

       One or more of the key building components are old and, because of their condition,
       need replacing or major repair; or
       Two or more of the other building components are old and, because of their
       condition, need replacing or major repair.

       c) - It has reasonably modern facilities and services

       Dwellings which fail to meet this criterion are those which 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);
       Adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats.

       A home lacking two or less of the above is still classed as decent. It is therefore not
       necessary to modernise kitchens and bathrooms if a home passes the remaining
       criteria.


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        d) - It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort

        This criterion requires dwellings to have both effective insulation and efficient
        heating.

        See Appendix A for examples of L.A. application of decency criteria

2.3     Who is Vulnerable?

        Vulnerable households are those classified as having little capacity to change their
        own housing circumstances either because they have insufficient income or they
        suffer from an illness or disability.

        The CURS study, „Implementing New Powers for Private Sector Housing Renewal‟
        2005 found that „vulnerability‟ was linked with the following factors:

              Economic opportunity and the ability to work
              The age of the household
              Ethnicity

        One of the major consequence of these circumstances is that 63% of vulnerable
        households are amongst the poorest fifth of households in the private sector.

        A disproportionate number of households are from ethnic minority background.

2.3.1   National Minimum Definition

        The ODPM definition of vulnerable households is those in receipt of at least one of
        the principal means tested or disability related benefits. For the purpose of
        establishing the national 2001 baseline from the English House Condition Survey the
        benefits taken into account were: income support, housing benefit, council tax
        benefit, disabled persons tax credit, income based job seekers allowance, working
        families tax credit, attendance allowance, disability living allowance, industrial injuries
        disablement benefit, war disablement pension.

        The detailed definition of qualifying benefits is included in Appendix B.

        This is the minimum definition of vulnerable which all local authorities are expected
        to use to establish a baseline and monitor progress towards the decent homes
        target.

        The inclusion of families with children within the definition will not increase the
        numbers of those found to be vulnerable as this is determined by receipt of the
        above mentioned benefits. However, it is advisable to record the presence of
        children within vulnerable households for monitoring purposes.

2.3.2   Local Definitions

        There is scope for local variance over and above the national minimum and
        Local Authorities may wish to set a wider definition of ‘Vulnerable’ depending
        on local needs and circumstances. This will need to be evidenced from local stock
        / socio-economic surveys.

        The eligibility criteria for financial assistance which the authority makes available
        could therefore be tailored to a more detailed appraisal of individual household
        circumstances. However, it will be necessary to have mechanisms in place to record
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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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          and monitor progress against both the national definition and any local definition if
          one is used.

          Examples of Local variance currently in use include:

         Households including disabled or over 65s - therefore not necessarily fulfilling
          national criteria re: benefits

          St Helens

          Households in „necessitous circumstances‟ – those failing a scheme assessment of
          income and expenditure, again may not be in receipt of benefits but judged to have
          low income

          Regenda „Home Improve‟ Loan Scheme as operated within Rochdale

2.4       Vulnerable households in Non-Decent Homes

          The above mentioned CURS study reported that whilst 32% of the total vulnerable
          households were in the private rented sector, over half a million households (39% )
          owned their properties outright. However, as expected the majority of vulnerable
          owner occupiers could be found in properties of a lower value than the national
          average.

          The CURS study also found a strong correlation between vulnerable households in
          non decent accommodation and the oldest housing stock, with 43 % living in pre
          1919 accommodation and a further 23% in property built before 1944. The
          distribution of vulnerable households in non decent accommodation also highlighted
          converted private sector flats as being particularly problematic, since the incidence of
          vulnerable households living in this type of accommodation (6%) was twice the
          proportion of this kind of stock.

          Vulnerable households in non decent accommodation are over represented in the
          North of England. As expected, there is a concentration of vulnerable households in
          cities and urban locations but the main concentration is in the most deprived local
          authority wards, with 55% of vulnerable households in non decent accommodation
          living in the 30% most deprived wards.




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3.0    Implementation

3.1    Targets

       The Local Authority contribution to PSA7 includes specific targets for the proportion
       of vulnerable households in the private sector whose homes achieve the decency
       standard by December 2006, 2010 and beyond.

       Although Decent Homes targets have been set at a national level, Local Authority
       Housing Strategies need to be robust enough to secure a year on year increase in
       the proportion of vulnerable households living in decent homes, and , as a minimum,
       achieve 70% by 2010 as set nationally.

       The baseline for 2001 is 57% and the target is to increase this to 65% by 2006, to
       70% by 2010, and to 75% by 2015/20.

       In general outputs contributing to the target can result from the following three
       components:

1.     Direct Improvement Action

       For example direct grant / loan assistance, recorded actions through a Home
       Improvement agency, other direct interventions including enforcement and advice
       packages where inspections and follow up outputs have been recorded. An example
       of the latter action is inclusion of Decency standard within Landlord Accreditation
       Schemes.

2.     Direct Clearance Action

       Where non decent homes are removed as a result of clearance activity. This could
       also include effects of redevelopment, with the provision of new build stock.

3.     Positive Referrals

       Those actions where Local Authorities instigate actions , the results of which cannot
       always be verified as meeting the Decency Standard. An example of this is Warm
       Front action where the works directly contribute to eliminating poor thermal
       conditions but may fail to address other relevant defects at the property.

4.     General Third Party Initiatives

       For example, where advice is given but no follow up inspection / check is made.

       Whilst it may not be possible for Local Authorities to monitor the positive effects of
       actions under 3 and 4 against meeting PSA7 on an annual basis, regular stock
       condition surveys will provide a method of assessing effectiveness of any wider, non
       direct initiatives.

       Both people-focused services and area-based programmes can assist Local
       Authorities to reach the PSA7 target and it is important that the two strategies should
       be complementary. Decent homes delivery should aim to add value to area renewal
       programmes or provide a clear outcome focus to investment to improve individual
       properties; it should not become the sole determinant of private sector renewal
       activity. The four Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders in the North West, for
       example, are key vehicles for helping deliver the decency target for private sector


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       housing in their areas. It is important that appropriate systems be established to
       capture the contributions made by area based activity to achieving decent homes.

3.2    Implications

       The need to make private sector homes decent rather than a strict adherence to the
       traditional fitness standard may represent a significant change in practice for many
       local authorities. This approach has major implications for the conduct of house
       condition surveys, as well as for the programmes of assistance offered by local
       authorities.

       It is likely that Local Authorities will require in house training across a range of
       services on the interpretation and application of the Decency Standard. This will
       assist in the collection of information from areas not traditionally associated with front
       line housing refurbishment. An example of this is provision of Decency information
       from staff involved in the DFG and Landlord Accreditation processes, enabling any
       works which also assist meeting of decency standard to be recorded but also
       providing opportunity for direct targeting of additional services towards the properties
       and households found to be non decent. Enforcement staff will also need to be
       aware of household vulnerability if they are to record successful interventions which
       lead to improvements to the Decency standard. Examples of Assessment sheets
       currently being used to collate Decent Home information are included in Appendix A

       Further training may be also be required by a range of partnership agencies, i.e.
       Care and Repair, RSLs, EAGA. The opportunity may exist to train EAGA staff to
       record inspections to the decency standard in order to provide an accurate picture of
       those vulnerable households whose homes have been brought up to the decent
       standard as a result of receiving Warm Front assistance. Training in this area can be
       obtained from IDEA and from a range of private organiations providing housing
       consultancy services (See contact lists Appendix 2).

       Effective use of IT systems and recording databases should be considered, together
       with the ability to capture information from partnership agencies. For example, Wirral,
       in partnership with the local Energy Efficiency Advice Centre (EEAC) have
       developed a database that enables energy efficiency data relating to decent homes
       to be migrated into the Council‟s GIS mapinfo project, thereby demonstrating
       contribution to decency. Appendix F shows a flow chart of the process used by
       Manchester to inform and monitor a stock condition survey using a range of data
       sources.

       The introduction of the new PSA target does not detract from the new freedoms
       which local authorities have gained from the introduction of the RRO. Renewal
       policies should be determined locally in the light of local housing market conditions
       and local priorities. However in view of the national priority to provide the opportunity
       for everyone to live in decent home, local authorities should have regard to this new
       PSA target as part of their overall renewal policy.




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4.0    Private Sector Housing Strategy and Delivery Policies

4.1    Strategy Development

       In order to meet the PSA7 targets, it is important that a robust housing strategy is in
       place to underpin delivery mechanisms.

       The ODPM has issued guidance on the approach local authorities should take in
       preparing their Housing Strategies. The latest guidance was issued in March 2002
       and this introduced the concept of “fit for purpose” Housing Strategies. Government
       Office North West will evaluate fit for purpose housing strategies against the
       following criteria:

             Corporate context – the relationship between the Housing strategy and the
              Council‟s wider community objectives
             Wider priorities – taking account of national, regional and sub regional
              priorities
             Partnership working – how the strategy demonstrates effective engagement
              and consultation with partners, stakeholders and residents
             Needs analysis – sound analysis of housing needs that the strategy seeks to
              address, including housing needs assessment, understanding of housing
              markets, stock condition, special needs groups and homelessness
             Resources – a realistic estimate of resource availability for investment over
              the life of the strategy
             Priorities – clearly justified priorities, evidenced by the needs analysis
             Options appraisal – evidence of different courses of action being assessed
              to address the priorities, and the roles of different partners
             Action Plan – SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, timebound),
              and covering resource allocations, programmes and service delivery
             Delivery – clear reporting on previous targets and monitoring arrangements
              for the action plan
             Presentation – easy to read and accessible to the non-specialist reader

       More details on these criteria are contained in Appendix C

       The Housing Quality Network has produced a number of Good Practice Briefings
       regarding housing strategy development as well as private sector housing delivery
       and these provide a useful information resource.

4.2    Private Sector Housing Strategy

       In developing a Housing Strategy, it is important to understand the impact that the
       private sector can have in both meeting local housing need and supporting other
       local agendas. Whilst some Local Authorities may choose to develop a dedicated
       private sector housing strategy, separate from their main housing strategy, other
       authorities may find it more appropriate to contain private sector issues within one
       multi tenure strategy document. This may be more appropriate for LSVT authorities.
       Specific local private housing issues, i.e. energy efficiency / fuel poverty, empty
       properties, H.M.O.s, could also be contained within their own separate strategy


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       documents. It will be for each local authority to decide which approach meets local
       circumstances when developing a fit for purpose strategy.

4.3    Housing Assistance Policies

       Policies will need to be developed to support and deliver the overarching aims and
       objectives of the Private Sector Housing Strategy. It is essential that any policy is
       evidence based. In terms of Housing Assistance Policies, account will need to be
       taken of a number of local issues including:

             Stock condition data, including energy efficiency
             Knowledge and understanding of the local housing market and needs
             Social and economic data including fuel poverty
             A range of demographic data to identify changes and trends

       Local Authorities were required to review their delivery policies after the introduction
       of Regulatory Reform Order in July 2003. The detail of the outcome of this process is
       captured in the CURS report. (Implementing New Powers for Private Sector Housing
       Renewal).This report contains some useful case studies and examples of current
       good practice.

       The policies required to delivery strategy objectives can be area, property type,
       meeting particular kinds of property condition, particular issue, or client based. Whilst
       RRO effectively lifted many of the previous restrictions placed on Local Authorities in
       relation to delivery of assistance, the need for policies to have regard to local
       circumstances and evidence remains a key requirement. A combination of both
       financial and non financial assistance is therefore likely to be appropriate. More
       details on the range of measures which can be considered are contained in Section
       7, Delivery Tools. In addition, local authorities should have regard to the role of
       enforcement action when meeting strategy objectives.

       In order to contribute towards meeting the PSA7 target, any delivery policy should
       consider the targeting of assistance towards vulnerable households. It is also
       recommended that appropriate linkages are made with other areas of activity to
       ensure assistance is maximised. Examples of this include:

             Assessment of Decent Homes criteria on delivery of adaptations for the
              disabled, with referral to Home Improvement Agencies / Maintenance Advice
              as appropriate.

             Cross referrals / partnership working between agencies to promote schemes
              such as Warm Front, provision of fire safety / crime prevention measures




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5.0    Working in Partnership

       Partnership working should lie at the heart of any successful renewal and
       regeneration strategy. Strategic partnerships are necessary in order to develop a
       common vision between key stakeholders and also to secure commitment of
       resources from the principal delivery agencies. The introduction of the single capital
       pot for housing resources and the new freedoms enjoyed by Regional Housing
       Boards and local authorities in setting policy priorities, enhances their strategic
       position and enables them to assume a leading role in developing such partnerships.
       The new arrangements which are being developed for partnership working in the
       Market Renewal Pathfinder areas are also an excellent example of what can be
       achieved.

       In order to develop and deliver effective housing renewal policies, authorities should
       look to the contribution that other organisations could make through collaborative
       working.

5.1    Types Of Partnership

       The more flexible power to give assistance contained in the Order enables
       authorities to engage with new and varied partners and think about which priorities to
       support. When considering how best to deliver the key outcomes, authorities may
       wish to consider the following types of partnerships:

             Local authority partnerships: In developing new housing renewal policies,
              local authorities may benefit from working together. For example, a group of
              local authorities could share the costs of developing new policy tools.

             Consultative partnerships: In developing Local Strategic Partnerships and
              as part of the Best Value process, authorities will need to engage with a wide
              range of current and potential service users as well as other stakeholders.
              These consultative arrangements may be formalised in resident panels or
              other types of consultative forums. Typically the focus could be an area issue
              such as environmental works within a renewal area, delivery of the Agenda
              21 strategy, the future of a park home site or the preservation and/or making
              of the heritage importance of the area.

             Partnerships to address housing need: Planning to meet housing need
              within an authority‟s area will involve close liaison with housing associations,
              private landlords, developers, providers of support and advice services, social
              services, the NHS and planning colleagues.

             Health alliances: there is a clear linkage between poor housing and ill
              health, especially with an ageing population and more people choosing to live
              independently within the community. This generates a need for partnership
              working between housing authorities, health authorities, primary care trusts,
              local GPs, HIAs, and social services.

             Financial partnerships: The wider range of financial assistance now
              available for housing renewal will necessitate partnerships with lenders,
              specialist intermediaries, developers, housing associations and builders in
              line with Egan principles. Authorities will also need to consult BME
              communities closely to establish appropriate culturally sensitive lending
              strategies.


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             Home Improvement Agencies: HIAs can play a major part in helping an
              authority achieve its area-based and client-focused objectives. More
              information on working with HIAs is available on the ODPM website – ODPM
              Circular 05/2003.

             Maintenance and home improvement partnerships: With the flexibility to
              give assistance for the supply of materials or work undertaken, authorities
              may want to negotiate new partnerships for the supply of goods and services
              under framework agreements.

             Community safety partnerships: Crime and fear of crime rank highly
              amongst residents‟ priorities in many areas. Partnerships between local
              communities, local authorities and the police can be particularly effective in
              delivering peace of mind.

             Schools/education partnerships: Partnerships could be established with
              schools, colleges and education colleagues with the aims of educating future
              generations about the need for maintenance, repair and the need to conserve
              energy.

             Working with the voluntary sector: Within any strategy there will need to
              be provision for the supply of a range of complementary formal and informal
              advice and advocacy services.

             Fuel poverty and energy efficiency partnerships: Fuel poverty and energy
              inefficient homes can only be tackled effectively through partnerships at the
              local level with housing authorities working closely with RSLs, HIAs, Warm
              Front, the Energy Saving Trust and energy suppliers.




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6.0    Option Appraisal

       It should be noted that local authorities are still required by section 3 of the Housing
       Act 2004 to review the condition of all housing in their areas, irrespective of tenure.
       This will be with a view to determining what action to take in the performance of their
       functions

       Authorities are statutorily obliged to consider the most satisfactory course of action in
       respect of premises that have been identified as failing the current statutory minimum
       standard. The neighbourhood renewal assessment (NRA) is the recommended
       method for considering the most satisfactory course of action. A revised
       Neighbourhood Renewal Guidance Manual was issued in 2004 and is available on
       the ODPM website.

       Authorities should therefore ensure that their policy responses are adequate and
       appropriate for the range of outcomes that can arise from the NRA process, and
       should consider the following questions:

             Repair – What forms of grant and/or loan assistance might be made
              available, and in what circumstances? Is enforcement action more
              appropriate? When would it be more appropriate to assist an owner in
              acquiring an alternative home? What non financial assistance or other
              support via partnership organisations can be put in place to enable
              homeowners to maintain their properties.

             Hazard Awareness Notice – Is it appropriate to provide some form of low-
              level assistance to accompany the service of a hazard awareness notice?

             Prohibition order – Would assistance be appropriate to bring a property
              back into use following the making of an order?

             Demolition order – In what circumstances might assistance be made
              available to meet demolition costs and/or to fund rebuilding after demolition?

             Clearance activity – What policy provisions would be appropriate to enable
              persons to acquire living accommodation elsewhere? When might it be
              beneficial to provide assistance with the construction of new buildings on the
              site?

       The Decent Home standard is not an enforcement standard, and authorities do not
       have powers to require owners to comply. They should however have regard to it in
       giving advice to owners or when considering financial assistance.

       The replacement of worn-out housing will be an important dimension of delivering
       housing strategic objectives in some regions. Authorities need to consider how their
       policy for assisting in the repair and improvement of existing properties is balanced
       by a clearance policy. They should pursue clearance on an even-handed basis and
       where it is considered to be the most satisfactory course of action. The factors to
       which local authorities should have regard in deciding whether clearance is the most
       satisfactory course of action are set out in paragraph 39 of Annex B in circular 17/96.




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7.0    Delivery Tools

       The provisions of the RRO give local authorities much greater discretion on how they
       can provide assistance for housing renewal and as a result help meet PSA7 targets.

       Guidance on some of the tools which could be made available is contained within the
       ODPM Circular 05/2003. Some of the tools which are currently either on offer or
       being developed by local authorities in the North West Region, in support of
       delivering the decency agenda are listed as follows (Also see Appendix 1 & 2 for
       contact details regarding specific schemes):

7.1    Grant Assistance

       The detailed legislative provisions relating to Renovation Grants, HMO Grants,
       Common Parts Grant, Group Repair and Home Repair Assistance were repealed by
       the Order. Local authorities may still wish to make grants available for housing
       renewal in certain circumstances where it is considered they represent the most
       appropriate form of assistance. Grant delivery, including amounts given and
       qualifying criteria, is left to the discretion of each local authority. However, it is
       advisable that the development of specific grant products will be influenced by local
       need and circumstances, as evidenced through stock condition / needs surveys.

       Local authorities should be aware that not all vulnerable households will be able to
       access loan assistance. Examples of this include negative equity in the case of
       Equity Release products, failure to obtain consent from mortgage providers and
       absent ownership interests preventing registration of the loan charge. Any decision
       to stop grant assistance altogether will therefore need to be carefully considered and
       appropriate mechanisms put in place to deal with situations were financial assistance
       is considered appropriate but where loans may not be feasible.

7.2    Loan assistance

       The general power provided by the RRO enables local authorities to consider
       offering financial assistance other than grants in a form which may require the owner
       to make some financial contribution or repayment. ODPM Circular 05/2003 lists the
       principal categories of loan products which could be made available. Given the
       pressure on local authority resources available for private sector housing renewal,
       provision of loans should be carefully considered as an option as, over time, it will
       allow more homeowners to be assisted with a given amount of public sector
       resource. In choosing a particular form of loan package, authorities should seek to
       achieve a balance between making the scheme attractive to potential applicants,
       who will often be vulnerable or of limited means, and at the same time maximising
       the level of repayments which they would receive in the long term. These receipts
       could then be recycled to provide further support for housing renewal.

       The important limitation imposed by the Order is that before making a loan, or
       requiring repayment of a loan or grant, the authority must have regard to the
       person’s ability to afford to make a contribution or repayment. There are certain
       loan products now in use which have been developed with regard to client
       vulnerability, for example, with no requirement to pay regular instalments or waiver of
       repayment in certain exceptional circumstances such as negative equity.

       There is a wide range of options available for local authorities to consider and it is
       important that they should seek proper, comprehensive legal and financial advice
       whilst developing and introducing loan products. The ODPM has published Mortgage
                                                                                       14
Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
West

        Sales Guidance for L.A. and RSLs, November 2005 to assist in this area. Whilst
        Local authorities are exempted from the new FSA regulatory regime, that exemption
        is on the basis that a comparable quality of service is provided to customers. Further
        details on Loan administration are contained within Appendix D and the above
        mentioned ODPM guidance, whilst Equity Release notes are contained in Appendix
        E.

        As a general point, this is a very complex policy area that requires a high degree of
        expert knowledge to implement effectively and legally. As a result of this, take up has
        been slow to develop; however, much good practice and skills have emerged in
        recent years. At the time of writing (April 2006) ODPM has commissioned research
        to draw out these points – this guidance will be updated to reflect this on publication
        of the findings.

7.2.1   Loan Delivery Mechanisms

        Providing loan finance ‘In house’

        Whilst it is possible for Local Authorities to research and develop their own equity
        release based product, this may not always be feasible, or indeed advisable, given
        the complexity, legal and financial requirements and necessary staffing resources,
        both in development of the product and also in delivery. It may be more practical to
        offer only the simplest type of loan product in house, i.e. zero rated loan charge
        against the property. This would minimise administration costs and reduce revenue
        implications related to calculation of future repayments. Local Authorities in the North
        West currently offering their own low or zero rated loan products include:

              St Helens
              Rochdale
              Wigan
              Halton
              Manchester

        A zero rated loan charge, whilst being more acceptable to customers and a natural
        progression away from 100% grant, may never become self-sustainable. Over time
        inflation would erode the value of the capital and future consideration may have to be
        given to the provision of loans with rates above inflation. However, this type of
        product effectively assists transition away from previous 100% grant regimes and is
        likely to encounter less resistance from clients (and therefore greater take up) than
        other types of loan product.

        Providing loan finance with Housing Associations

        Local authorities may not in many cases wish to offer loans for housing renewal
        themselves and the Order allows them to provide such assistance by working
        through and with third parties. An example of this is the „Home Improve‟ Equity
        Release Loan Scheme, first piloted in 2003 by West Pennine Housing Association (a
        member of the Regenda Group), in partnership with Rochdale MBC. Regenda‟s
        „Home Improve‟ product has now been successfully extended to cover partnerships
        with a further 8 Local Authorities, with a number of others currently considering
        linking in to the scheme. (as of April 2006).




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       Products currently being delivered in the North West include:

            „Home Improve‟ Equity Release Loan – administered by the Regenda Group of
             Housing Associations and currently delivered in Rochdale, Oldham, St Helens,
             Knowsley, Halton, Rossendale, Tameside, Liverpool and Blackpool.

            „Home Improve‟ Equity Release Loan – administered by Manchester
             Methodist Housing Association in partnership with Manchester City Council


       Working with special purpose vehicles

       Local authorities or a group of local authorities could establish or support a special
       body (a number of Community Development Financial Initiatives such as the Home
       Improvement Trust and ART Homes already exist) which are designed to administer
       not for profit schemes of financial assistance for housing renewal. They will have the
       advantage of specialist expertise in the field and the ability to develop specialist
       products, and if they can attract additional funds from the private sector, they may be
       able to generate more financial leverage than is possible when the local authority
       administers a loan fund itself. A group of authorities working with a single SPV would
       have the further advantage of sharing operating costs and expertise.

       Rochdale MBC Home Improvement Agency is working in partnership with Oldham
       MBC and a number of Community Development Financial Initiatives such as the
       Home Improvement Trust and local lenders to establish other strands of financial
       assistance for housing renewal in order to explore the possibility of attracting
       additional funds from the private sector.

       Preston City Council actively support Preston Moneyline, a Community Development
       Financial Initiative which was developed in partnership with the Council and enables
       provision of a specific Housing Loan funded from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.
       Loans are targeted at home owners with low credit ratings looking to improve their
       homes to the Decency Standard or those with means tested contributions to other
       grants.

       Products currently being delivered include:

             Salford Moneyline Loan Product
             Preston Moneyline Loan Product
             ART Homes Property Appreciation Loan (Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton)

       Working with commercial lenders

       The ODPM Circular 05/2003 suggests that a local authority, or a group of authorities
       could agree to work together with commercial lenders to deliver loan products to
       homeowners who would not normally have access to such financial support. This
       support could range from direct financial contributions towards the cost of
       administering loans to offering loan guarantees and indemnities. Another possibility
       is that local authorities could initially make a number of loans themselves, but then
       sell on a package of loans to a commercial lender for a capital sum.

       Whilst discussions have taken place with lenders within the last two years,
       particularly with regard to provision of private finance to assist the Regenda loan
       product, as of January 2006 no commercial lender has yet been willing to enter into
       such an arrangement. This is an area which requires significant development as it is
       becoming clear that provision of equity release loans to vulnerable, low income
                                                                                        16
Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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       homeowners is currently not a commercially attractive proposition. (“Implementing
       New Powers for Private Sector Housing Renewal “CURS 2005). The CURS report
       concludes that “lenders need to have confidence that their risks will be shared and
       central Government must be willing to adopt a much more proactive interventionist
       role in this process than hitherto.”

       Offering loan & mortgage indemnities

       The ODPM Circular 05/2003 also confirms that it is possible for local housing
       authorities to give assistance in the form of an indemnity to ensure that the lender
       providing a loan for the purpose of improving a home will not be out of pocket if the
       borrower defaults on the loan.

       Again, it is currently proving difficult to find examples of North West Local Authorities
       using this approach and further development is required. We would like to hear from
       any Local Authority with experience in this field.

7.3    Packages of Loan and Grant

       Local authorities may in some cases wish to offer a combination of grant and loan to
       assist with housing renewal. Examples in the North West region include:

             Availability of loan to cover applicant contribution to grant assistance;
                                                                     St Helens

             Loan to help someone who is required to make a financial contribution
              under the test of resources for mandatory disabled facilities grant;
                                                                     Rochdale

             Offer of loan finance for internal improvements to complement grant for
              external repairs through a group repair scheme;
                                                                     Knowsley

             Package of grant, mortgage assistance and equity charge on the new
              property to assist relocation from clearance properties;
                                                                     Blackburn with Darwen

             Development of 50% grant 50% loan to fund home improvements within the
              Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI)
                                                                     Wirral and Sefton

7.4    Supporting Purchase and Relocation

       In addition to providing the means to assist with repairs or improvements where the
       occupants are to remain in their home, the new powers can also be used to assist
       where a person‟s home is clearly unsuitable for improvement, repair or adaptation.

       Financial assistance can be provided to enable the purchase of another, more
       suitable property, in addition to the statutory compensation that is available through
       the compulsory or voluntary purchase processes. This could also be beneficial to
       authorities where they have decided to work towards „land assembly‟ in a particular
       area. In some instances this might avoid costly disputes and delays and produce
       corresponding savings in staff time. Policies of this kind could also be useful where
       the authority is tackling areas of low demand, for example as part of a Market
       Renewal Pathfinder partnership, or pursuing clearance action where negative equity
       is an issue.


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            Equity Share Loan added to clearance compensation package to assist
             relocation
                                                             Manchester

            Property Appreciation Loan (PAL) offered by Merseyside Pathfinder Authorities
             in partnership with ART Homes as gap funding to facilitate clearance and
             housing market restructuring.
                                                             Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton




7.5    Other Forms of Assistance for Housing Renewal

       Apart from grants and loans, local authorities should consider other ways in which
       they may want to provide financial or other assistance for housing renewal as these
       will need to be included in their published policies. They might include:

             Supply of discounted materials (negotiated with partner supplier);

             Provision of labour (or the local authority carrying out work directly);

             Assistance through access to tool hire scheme;

             Referral to HIA for emergency repairs or handyperson/volunteering type
              scheme;

             Free or reduced cost survey and advice on carrying out repairs as part of a
              maintenance initiative with partner agencies providing guidance and support
              e.g. local DIY retailers;

             Provision of a list of accredited builders and agents offering a warranty
              service as part of the Government‟s Quality Mark scheme and willing to
              supervise and/or undertake work;

             Assistance with temporary accommodation while work is carried out including
              fees for removal and storage of effects.

             Referral to other agencies, i.e. Fire Authority, Police, Fuel Providers providing
              advice or other assistance.

             Provision of benefit checks and advice

       Working in partnership with Housing Improvement Agencies such as Care & Repair
       and Anchor, is a particularly effective way of targetting action towards the most
       vulnerable households. It also enables clients to benefit from linkages to additional
       services and funding sources. For example, Care & Repair in Manchester work
       alongside the City Council to assist administration of the Council‟s loan products but
       will also identify other possible funding opportunities, i.e. Royal British Legion, in
       order to maximise resources. Care & Repair St Helens administer the Council‟s
       „Emergency Fund‟ and accesses additional moneys from fuel providers, charitable
       organisations and other donations to match fund the scheme.

       Authorities where home maintenance /advice services are an integral part of their
       private sector housing renewal policies include:

             Bolton

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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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             St Helens
             Rochdale

7.6    Enforcement Policy

       Although strategies which encourage the co-operation of individuals in keeping their
       homes in good repair may be preferable in ensuring long term sustainability,
       authorities need to bear in mind the need to include clear policies on the role to be
       played by enforcement action in dealing with properties that fall below acceptable
       standards. This is likely to be particularly important in the case of rented properties
       and HMOs in the private sector, where some of the worst housing conditions are to
       be found.

       Enforcement policies should enable consideration of the circumstances and views of
       tenants, landlords and owners. Firm enforcement action to protect the health and
       safety of tenants and occupiers will sometimes be essential but it should generally be
       viewed as a last resort. Local Authorities are encouraged to adopt the Enforcement
       Concordat, which provides a basis for fair, practical and consistent enforcement. It is
       based on the principles that anyone subject to enforcement regulation should receive
       clear explanations of what they need to do to comply and have an opportunity to
       resolve difficulties before formal enforcement action is taken. The current Concordat
       “Good Practice Guide for England and Wales” Ref CCP 006/03 can be found on the
       DTI website.

       Whilst the Decency standard itself is not enforceable, there are many instances
       where improvements up to the current statutory housing standard may also be
       judged to meet the Decency Standard. In order to record such improvements
       confirmation of household vulnerability, i.e. receipt of benefits, needs to be included
       within the inspection proformas.




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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8.0         Monitoring Progress

8.1         Establishing Baseline

            Identifying local issues, needs and expectations within localities is a vital step in
            establishing robust policies to meet PSA7 target in the private sector. The availability
            of contemporary and accurate information on stock as well as people is crucial to this
            process.

            At April 2001 there were 17.2 million private sector homes, which equates to about
            80% of all homes in England. Of these, 5.5 million homes (32%), housing 5.2 million
            households (4.2 million owner-occupiers and 1 million tenants) did not meet the
            decent home standard.

            Nearly 1.2 million (23%) of the 5.2 million households living in non-decent private
            sector homes are defined as vulnerable (1) for the purposes of this PSA target. They
            represent 43% of all vulnerable households in the private sector and therefore set
            the
            baseline from which this target will be assessed. Of these, 840,000 (70%) are owner-
            occupier and 360,000 (30%) are tenants.

            It is important to have credible baseline information in order to set meaningful targets
            at local levels. It is recommended that a baseline is established as early as possible
            and that information covers the following areas:

            1.      Stock Condition including energy efficiency
            2.      Local housing market
            3.      Vulnerability

            Housing stock condition information in isolation will be insufficient as a basis for
            developing the strategy. Links should be made to other data such as house
            prices/sales, local market conditions, tenure patterns, occupants‟ circumstances and
            economic and social characteristics of an area.

            ODPM have issued a tool, Ready Reckoner, to help establish a starting point for
            baseline information. Whilst this information can be useful, it is in effect it is no more
            than a „starter for ten‟ and it is expected that a more accurate position would be
            available following a local stock condition survey.

            The table below provides relevant information at local authority level (calculated
            from Ready Reckoner) and is available on the ODPM website.

      (1)   ODPM Definition




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 Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
 West


                                                                                   proportion
                                                       number of                   of
                                                       vulnerable                  vulnerable
                                         IMD           households                  households
                                         district      in non        number of     in non
                                         deprivation   decent        vulnerable    decent
Local Authority                          group         homes         households    homes (%)
Allerdale                                          3          3707          6731            55
Barrow-in-Furness                                  1          3446          6283            55
Blackburn with Darwen                              1          5518         10568            52
Blackpool                                          1          6674         13814            48
Bolton                                             2          8714         18641            47
Burnley                                            2          4041          7368            55
Bury                                               4          5552         11934            47
Carlisle                                           4          3282          6856            48
Chester                                            5          2383          5195            46
Chorley                                            6          2350          5198            45
Congleton                                          9          1200          3178            38
Copeland                                           3          2366          4753            50
Crewe and Nantwich                                 6          2625          6019            44
Eden                                               7          1299          2550            51
Ellesmere Port and
Neston                                             4         1893          4770             40
Fylde                                              7         1738          4090             42
Halton                                             1         3509          8103             43
Hyndburn                                           2         3656          6533             56
Knowsley                                           1         3725         10136             37
Lancaster                                          4         4332          9109             48
Liverpool                                          1        16029         31328             51
Macclesfield                                       9         2395          5603             43
Manchester                                         1        14055         26482             53
Oldham                                             2         7165         14724             49
Pendle                                             2         4706          7736             61
Preston                                            2         4037          9293             43
Ribble Valley                                      9          954          1999             48
Rochdale                                           1         6908         14711             47
Rossendale                                         3         2507          4638             54
Salford                                            1         7141         15051             47
Sefton                                             3         9871         20089             49
South Lakeland                                     8         2423          5102             47
South Ribble                                       7         2016          4970             41
St. Helens                                         2         5249         11917             44
Stockport                                          6         7185         15149             47
Tameside                                           2         7429         15121             49
Trafford                                           5         5988         12150             49
Vale Royal                                         5         2948          6997             42
Warrington                                         5         3998         10561             38
West Lancashire                                    3         3015          7162             42
Wigan                                              2         9362         21879             43
Wirral                                             2        12326         25125             49
Wyre                                               5         2953          7068             42




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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8.2    Stock Condition

       New guidance on the processes involved in assembling and maintaining a housing
       stock information system, including the collection and integration of stock condition
       survey data is now available, published by the ODPM – „Collecting, Managing and
       Using Housing Stock Information – a good practice guide.‟ The guide builds on and
       replaces an earlier (1993) publication Local House Condition Surveys: A Guidance
       Manual and should be read in conjunction with the ODPM‟s „Housing Market
       Assessment – Draft Practice Guide‟ December 2005

       Volume three gives a detailed steer on specifying and commissioning stock condition
       surveys. It highlights good practice examples and outlines some key pitfalls to avoid
       at all stages of the process. It covers setting objectives and getting the brief right,
       through to contractor selection, managing the survey and agreeing reports and other
       outputs, particularly the database.

       The guidance outlines key principles in planning a stock condition survey which
       include the following:

             Surveys are a balance between maximising data opportunities (for example,
              linking stock condition, energy data, and socio-economic needs within one
              survey) and achieving feasibility (particularly keeping the time within a
              property to a reasonable level).
             Survey planning will involve:

       o      identifying broad decision areas;
       o      within these, identifying management decisions;
       o      defining survey data requirements;
       o      defining non-survey data requirements;
       o      deciding on the appropriate survey method(s);
       o      identifying the data processing, storage and analysis procedures (and giving
              early thought to updating requirements).

             A core project team should be established, to manage the survey, operating
              within the overall framework set by the Information Management Team. A
              client focussed IT expert should be a key member of the project team.
             Potential users of the survey data should be consulted, even if they are not
              direct team members. This may vary from director level to key individuals
              responsible for local implementation of repair programmes.
             Surveys should have a clear brief, whether done in-house or through an
              external contractor. For complex projects (e.g where the data are being fed
              into Asset Management Systems) a complementary IT brief may be needed.
             As with any project, progress monitoring and quality control procedures
              should be implemented. The latter is particularly important in ensuring that
              subsequent users have confidence in the data collected.
             Databases should be capable of meeting the requirements placed upon
              them by the Housing Information System i.e. data storage, analysis or
              updating.

       In addition, this volume stresses the importance of:

             setting feasible objectives that maximise the value of the survey;
             providing contractors with the information they need to provide a good
              response to needs;

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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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                developing a brief that tests a contractors skills and experience, allows them
                 to meet requirements but still allows scope for creativity;
                testing a contractor as thoroughly as possible before appointing them;
                understanding in outline the key technical issues, so that the commissioner
                 and the contractor will have a mutual understanding;
                managing the project to achieve a professional partnership approach.

          More information is available in the full set of guidance, Collecting, Managing and
          Using Housing Stock Information: A Good Practice Guide.
          Vol 1: An overview of the Key Principles, ISBN 1 85112 423 3.
          Vol 2: Key Principles and methodological issues, ISBN 1 85112 424 1.
          Vol 3: Specifying Stock Surveys ISBN 1 85112 425 X.

          Scope exists for Local Authorities to maximise linkages with other data sources in
          order to target Stock Condition surveys at particular areas of concern. An example is
          the targetting of resources / survey information towards Super Output Area (SOA)
          neighbourhoods defined as containing high levels of client vulnerability / deprivation.
          The Housing Stock Model developed by BRE can be used prior to commisioning a
          stock condition survey in order to stratify future survey samples to target areas of
          interest, using census and English House Condition Survey data.

          Councils currently using this methodology in conjunction with a Stock Condition
          Survey include:

         Manchester
         Consortium of East Midland Authorities (lead Authority Derby)

      A flowchart of the process used by Manchester, which includes for BRE stratification, is
      show in Appendix F.

8.3       Monitoring Ongoing Performance Against Targets

          In practice, monitoring progress against the PSA 7 targets presents a number of
          difficulties. As noted by the CURS report, this is a result of “the number of
          vulnerable households in non decent homes being a dynamic process, subject to
          market forces. Over time, the number of vulnerable households is likely to be subject
          to constant change because of changing employment opportunities, an ageing
          population and changes in the benefit system. At the same time, some houses that
          might have been included within the target for local authority action may be
          purchased and renovated whilst others currently meeting the decent homes standard
          will deteriorate to the point where they (and their households) may become part of a
          local authorities targeted programme. The overlap with the Warm Front programme
          is a further complication .. as this will impact on PSA 7 targets”

          However, local authorities can make significant contributions and should have regard
          to the following issues when developing monitoring arrangements:

         Has the baseline been established from Ready Reckoner / Stock Condition Survey?
         Do targets need to be set at both Boroughwide and neighbourhood level?
         Frequency of reporting
         Who is responsible for monitoring?
         Have staff been trained with regard to Decent Homes and HHSRS?

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      Are systems in place to capture local authority interventions in relation to decent
       homes occupied by vulnerable households?
      Are systems in place to capture contributory activities from other agencies? (see
       Appendix A for proformas which are currently being used for this purpose).

       Whilst it is practical for local authorities to monitor their interventions on an annual
       basis in terms of number of vulnerable households benefiting from actions, further
       stock condition surveys carried out at no less than 5 yearly intervals will give a true
       reflection of local authority progress.




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      Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
      West

      APPENDIX 1 Private Sector Renewal - Commissioning Round 1 Projects

Local                     Project Description                 Contact Details
Authority/Partners
St Helens MBC,            Loan and equity release             Vicky Whittle
Knowsley MBC, Halton      products for Merseyside:
BC and the Regenda        Developing/piloting the provision   01744 – 456315
Group                     of two loan products to home
                          owners within the three             vickywhittle@sthelens.gov.uk
                          Boroughs. The loan assistance
                          to be targeted specifically
                          towards home improvements to
                          ensure properties meet the
                          decency standard, recipients
                          unable to fund repairs through
                          other mean
Knowsley MBC, Fusion      New procurement methods for         Michael O‟Doherty
21, Arena Housing         elderly owner-occupiers:
                          To develop new methods of           0151-443 5848
                          procurement of grant-aided
                          interventions to tackle non-        michael.odoherty@knowsley.gov.uk
                          decent system-built former
                          council homes now in the hands
                          of vulnerable elderly owner-
                          occupiers.
Lancaster City Council,   Bespoke housing solutions           Steve Matthews
County Palatine HA        for Morecambe:
                          Using a variety of tools to         01524 – 586802
                          remodel existing over-sized and
                          under-occupied Victorian            smatthews@lancaster.gov.uk
                          terraced properties in the
                          deprived areas of Morecambe to
                          create modern desirable and
                          affordable homes in a tenure of
                          choice in partnership with
                          County Palatine HA. Close
                          relationship with broader
                          strategy for Morecambe
                          regeneration.

Bolton Community          Joining It Up & then Making         Paul Thomson
Homes (Bolton MBC,        Things Work:
Bolton at Home,           The project is aimed at             01204 – 335107
Contour, Manchester       examining a more effective,
Methodist and St          flexible, and imaginative process   Paul.Thomson@boltonathome.org.uk
Vincents HAs)             of dealing with housing renewal
                          problems. The additional
                          resources will extend the scope
                          and quality of engagement with
                          stakeholders, and develop better
                          tools to customise approaches
                          more accurately to the needs
                          and aspirations of those
                          benefiting from renewal
                          programmes

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      Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
      West

Blackpool Housing        Integrated Neighbourhood            Tom Barlow
Partnership (Blackpool   Improvement:
Borough Council, Five    Part of a comprehensive             01253 – 477666
Piers, Muir Group,       approach to neighbourhood
Windmill and Wyre        improvement in core areas of        Tom.Barlow@blackpool.gov.uk
HAs)                     the town, with a variety of
                         housing renewal tools adapted
                         to the particularly challenging
                         issues in resort neighbourhoods.
Halton BC, Liverpool     Castlefields equity release         Steve Williams
Housing Trust, CDS       project:
Housing                  The purpose of the project is to    0151-471 7462
                         offer equity release loans to
                         vulnerable occupiers of non-        steve.williams@halton-borough.gov.uk
                         decent homes in the private
                         sector who reside on the
                         Castlefields estate in Runcorn.
                         This will not only seek to
                         address the PSA7 target, but
                         also to make more complete the
                         regeneration of the estate, which
                         is set to receive investment in
                         the order of £100m over the next
                         few years.
Tameside Housing         Ashton Renewal:                     Andrew Leah
Partnership members      The Project looks at the
(including Tameside      clearance of 300 non-decent         0161-342-2562
MBC, Ashton Pioneer      private sector dwellings
Homes, West Pennine      occupied by largely vulnerable      Andrew.leah@tameside.gov.uk
HA)                      households in the Ashton
                         Regeneration area and the
                         redevelopment of the cleared
                         sites with 120 largely higher
                         value dwellings. A small
                         proportion of the new residential
                         developments will be in the
                         affordable/social rented sector.

                         The project also includes the
                         refurbishment of a number of
                         existing dwellings and in
                         partnership a range of services
                         will be promoted to support and
                         encourage residents to achieve




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West

APPENDIX 2 Contact Lists

Organisation             Contact Name         Telephone/Email
Office of Deputy Prime   Jeff Hollingworth    Jeff.hollingworth@odpm.gsi.gov.uk
Minister                                      0207 944 3447
                         Jayne Fullwood       Jayne.fullwood@odpm.gsi.gov.uk
                                              0207 944 3439

Government Office for    Pete Bailey          peter.bailey@gonw.gsi.gov.uk
the North West                                0160 952 4290
IDeA                                          Enquiries@idea.gov.uk
                                              0207 296 6600
Housing Corporation                           0207 393 2000
                                              Enquiries@housingcorp.gsx.gov.uk

DEFRA                                         0207 238 6951
(WARM FRONT)                                  helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Chartered Institute of                        0247 685 1700
Housing                                       Customer.services@cig.org

Chartered Institute of                        0207 928 6006
Environmental Health                          info@cieh.org
ART Homes                                     0121 327 3344
                                              info@arthomes.org.uk
                         Doug Wright          doug.wright@virgin.net
Regenda Loan             Louise Hadfield      0151 482 5252
Scheme                                        info@regenda.org.uk
Manchester Methodist     Kerry Scott          k.scott@mmhg.org.uk
H.A. (Loan Scheme)
Salford Moneyline        Steve Unstead        Steve.unstead@btopenworld
Northern Counties        Christine Jones      Cjones@ncha.co.uk
H.A. (Loan scheme)
The National                                  0870 241 0471
Landlords Association                         info@landlords.org.uk
Foundations              Shaun Robinson       01457 891909
                                              foundations@cel.co.uk
Housing Quality                               01723 350099
Network                                       hqn@hqnetwork.co.uk
BRE (Housing Stock       Robert Flynn         01923 664139
Models)                                       flynnr@bre.co.uk
AssetSkills                                   08000 567160
                                              enquiries@assetskills.org
Peter Lowe               Peter Lowe           PLOWe@peter-lowe-
Consultancy                                   consultancy.co.uk
Michael Howard           Michael Howard       01942 686150
Associates                                    info@mhaltd.com



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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
West

Sub Group Members            Organisation        Telephone/Email

John Simm – Head of          St Helens Council   01744 456230
Housing Strategy                                 johnsimm@sthelens.gov.uk
Vicky Whittle – Assistant    St Helens Council   01744 456232
Manager, Private                                 vickywhittle@sthelens.gov.uk
Housing Initiatives
Paul Gordziejewicz –         Rochdale Council    01706 866620
Private Sector Housing                           Paul.gordziejewicz@rochdale.co.uk
Manager
Shaun Robinson               Foundations
Mohammed Athar –             GONW                0161 9524393
Consultant Decent                                athargonw@yahoo.co.uk
Homes Advisor

Contact details for L.A.s not included above but mentioned within this document

Local            Project        Contact Name        Telephone/Email
Authority        Area
Manchester                      Reuben Flynn        0161 2344892
City                                                r.flynn@manchester.gov.uk
Preston          Preston        Malcolm             01772 906599
                 Moneyline      McCulloch           m.mcculloch@preston.gov.uk
Wirral                          Andy Bate           0151 6918242
                                                    andybate@wirral.gov.uk
Liverpool                       Steve Guy           Steve.guy@liverpool.gov.uk
Stockport                       Alison Hinsley      Alison.hinsley@stockport.gov.uk
Salford                         Sioban McCoy        Sioban.mccoy@salford.gov.uk




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
West

APPENDIX A

Below are three examples of Decent Homes assessment forms, used by Stockport, Wirral
and Manchester:

Stockport - Decent Homes Criteria notes

Suggested lifetimes:

                                 Houses            Below six storeys       Above six storeys
Wall Structure*                    80                     80                      80
Lintels*                           60                     60                      60
Spalling brickwork*                30                     30                      30
Wall finish*                       60                     60                      30
Roof structure*                    50                     30                      30
Roof finish*                       50                     30                      30
Chimneys*                          50                     50                     N/a
Windows*                           40                     30                      30
External doors*                    40                     30                      30
Kitchens                           30                     30                      30
Bathrooms                          40                     40                      40
C/H gas boilers*                   15                     15                      15
C/H System                         40                     40                      40
Heating – other*                   30                     30                      30
Electrics*                         30                     30                      30

Key components (marked *) must be “old” and in poor condition to render a dwelling non-
decent.

Definition of poor condition:

Wall structure        Replaces 10% or more or repair 30% or more.
Wall finish           Replace/repoint/renew 50% or more.
Chimneys              One chimney needs partial rebuilding or more.
Roof structure        Replaces 10% or more or strengthen 30% or more.
Roof covering         Replace or isolated repairs to 50% or more.
Windows               Replace at least one window or repair/replace sash or member to at least
                      two (excluding easing sashes, reglazing, and painting).
External doors        Replace at least one.
Kitchen               Major repair or replace three or more items out of the six (cold water
                      drinking supply, hot water, sink, cooking provision, cupboards, worktop).
Bathroom              Major repair or replace two or more items (bath, wash hand basin, WC).
Electrical system     Replace or major repair to system.
C/H boiler            Replace or major repair
C/H distribution      Replace or major repair
Storage heaters       Replace or major repair

Definition of thermal comfort:

A dwelling is defined as non-decent if the following apply:

   Those with gas or oil central heating (including warm air) that do not have either cavity wall
    insulation or at least 50mm of loft insulation.

   Those with storage heaters, LPG central heating or programmable solid fuel central heating that
    do not have cavity wall insulation if walls are cavity, and at least 200mm of roof insulation.

   Any homes with only room heaters for heating (regardless of insulation levels).

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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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Wirral MBC
The ‘Decent Homes Standard’ – Property Survey Sheet (DRAFT)


Property Details section
   (1) Address            Flat No.     House No.        Street                           (2) Postcode
                                                                    Ward
(3) property type                                       (4)                           (5)                  (6)
 eg H / F / B / M / HMO                                floor                          No                 Tenure
                                                       level                         bedro               RSL O/cc
                                                                                      om                   PT


   (7) Occupier                                       (8) Vulnerable (are                  yes / no                 )

     name (s)                                          they on means tested or
                                                      disability related benefit?)




 (A) Does the dwelling meet the current minimum standard for housing ? (eg – the
                           HHSRS rating for the property is NOT a category 1 failure)                            Yes / No


(B) Is the dwelling in a reasonable state of repair ? (answer once completed criteria below)
                                                                                                                 Yes / No
 (Is one or more of the following key building components old and because of their condition need
                                    replacing or major repair ?)

  (B1) external              (B2) roof                   (B3) Chimney                   (B4) CH boiler     (B5) gas fire
     walls                windows & doors                    Yes / no                      Yes / no           yes / no
      yes / no                 yes / no

   (B6) storage            (B7) Electrics
     heaters                   Yes / no
      yes / no

Other building components that are old and because of their condition need replacing or major
repair (please detail)




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North
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(C) Has reasonably modern facilities and services (answer once completed criteria below)
                                                                                                                             Yes / No
                                         (needs to lack 3 or more of the following)

    (C1)             (C2) Kitchen             (C3) bathroom 30              (C4)appropriat                (C5)                (C6) (for
 kitchen 20          with adequate             years old or less              ely located               adequate             flats only)
years old or        space & layout                                           bathroom and                 noise             adequate size
                                                     yes / no
     less                                                                         WC                   insulation           and layout of
                          yes / no
                                                                                                                              common
   yes / no                                                                      yes / no                yes / no
                                                                                                                              entrance
                                                                                                                                area.
                                                                                                                               yes / no


(D) Provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort (eg efficient heating, and
effective insulation)                                                                                                        Yes / No

   Efficient heating is defined as programmable gas / oil / LPG / solid fuel
   central heating, or electric storage heaters (answer once completed criteria below)

     (D1) for                    (D2) cavity                                                   (D3) for                    (D4) cavity
  dwellings with                insulation (if                                             dwellings with                 insulation (if
      gas/oil                cavity walls), and                                             elec storage /             cavity walls), and
  programmable                  > 50mm loft                                                LPG / solid fuel              > 200mm loft
      heating                insulation (if loft)                                          programmable                insulation (if loft)
                                                                                                heating
       yes / no                      yes / no                                                                               yes / no
                                                                                                 yes / no

What work has been undertaken to reach this standard (eg Central Heating / DFG bathroom / new
roof):




How was this work funded (owner / dfg grant / warm front / HMRI group repair)



Any other comments




Form completed by ..............................................................        Date .......................
Dept / Section...................................... Tel .........................................



                                                                                                                            31
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                                                                                                32
Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the North West




                                                                                                33
Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
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APPENDIX B            NOTES ON INCOME RELATED BENEFITS

Vulnerable households are those in receipt of at least one of the following principal
means tested or disability related benefits:

Income Support

Housing Benefit

Council Tax Benefit (income related)

Pension Credits (both guarantee and savings)

Income Based Jobseekers Allowance

Child Tax Credits (income < £14,200)

Working Tax Credits (must include the disability element and income < £14,200)

Attendance Allowance

Disabled Living Allowance

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

War Disablement Pension




March 2006




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
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APPENDIX C               HOUSING STRATEGIES: ‘FIT FOR PURPOSE’ CRITERIA

The list below sets out minimum requirements that must be met if a Housing Strategy
is to be „fit for purpose‟. The material is organised around the 10 strategy questions
that need to be addressed in an effective, forward looking Strategy.

Current Position and Context

1.     Corporate context. How well does the Strategy support and feed into the
development of the council‟s wider community objectives?

        The Strategy should be a corporate document that feeds into and is
         influenced by other corporate/local strategies (e.g. the Community Strategy,
         the Development Plan, Supporting People, Crime and Disorder, HiMP,
         Homelessness).

        There should be clear evidence of interaction between the Council and Local
         Strategic Partnership, particularly on Neighbourhood Renewal issues (where
         relevant).

        If a stockholding authority, the information in the Housing Strategy should
         incorporate the key points from the HRA Business Plan and be consistent
         with the Asset Management Plan and the Capital Strategy.

2.       Wider priorities. To what extent have national, regional and sub-regional
         housing priorities been taken into account in the Strategy?

        The Strategy should show how national housing priorities have been taken
         into account. If a national housing priority is not a significant issue locally, the
         Strategy need only, briefly, explain why this is.

        Evidence should be given of involvement in consideration of regional and
         sub-regional housing problems and priorities (e.g. as set out in the Regional
         Housing Statement or agreed with neighbouring authorities) and how these
         have been taken into account in the Strategy.

        Contribution made by LAs in setting/identifying sub-regions/regional priorities.

3.       Partnership working. How well does the Strategy demonstrate effective
         consultation and joint working with key stakeholders, including members, and
         meaningful engagement with residents?

        There should be a clear description of the arrangements for involving
         stakeholders, including members, in the development and implementation of
         the Strategy and a list of the organisations involved.

        Evidence should be given of how the Strategy has been charged as a result
         of input from stakeholders/residents.


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        Examples should be given of the authority‟s enabling role and of other
         partnership working.

        Examples of cross boundary working should be given.

4.       Needs analysis. Is there a sound analysis of the current and likely future
         position on all significant aspects of housing need in all tenures and on
         service performance?

        The Strategy must be based on a robust up to date housing needs
         assessment, which is likely to use information from a range of sources, e.g. a
         needs survey, planning and health, demographic data.

        A clear picture should be presented of the housing markets(s) in the area
         covering current and likely future supply and demand, house prices,
         household incomes, household projections.

        There should be an up to date summary of the condition of the housing stock
         in all tenures based on a recent stock condition survey.

        Information should be presented on special needs client groups (e.g. Black
         and Minority Ethnic, elderly, disabled, lone teenage parents) and on
         homelessness.

        Performance on key areas of service performance should be shown.

5.       Resources. Is there a realistic view of future resources including from the
         Approved Development Programme, regeneration schemes and contributions
         from partners? [Detailed data on council housing should be in the HRA
         Business Plan not the Strategy.]

        There should be a summary of recent revenue and capital spending, with
         details of the various sources of funding (e.g. the ADP, capital receipts and
         area-based initiatives) and affordable housing delivered through the planning
         system (e.g. through Section 106).

        An explanation should be given of how decisions are taken on the proportion
         of available resources to be used for housing (and within this council housing)
         and how this links to the authority‟s Capital Strategy.

        Estimates should be given of expected future funding, with details of the
         assumptions on which figures are based. Explanations should be given of any
         significant changes in funding.

6.       Priorities for action. How well is the statement of priority areas for action
         justified and linked to the analysis of current and likely future needs?

        There should be a clear statement of priorities for action identified with an
         explanation of their relative importance.

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        Reasons for choosing priorities should be given, including evidence that they
         have been informed by the analysis of need and consultation with key
         stakeholders. In particular, it should be clear how priorities relate to corporate
         priorities; wider sub-regional/regional strategies and national housing
         priorities.

7.       Analysis of options. To what extent does the Strategy demonstrate
         proactive consideration of alternative ways of addressing priority areas for
         action, which takes full account of the contributions which local partners could
         make?

        Brief explanation/justification of why certain options were chosen to meet
         priorities. This should include choice of partners, VFM, sources of funding,
         and the criteria used in decisions.

        Details should be given of how to access more detailed supporting
         information.

8.       Action Plan. Is there a clear action plan with SMART objectives and
         milestones covering both capital works and service delivery?

        The Strategy must include a clear and robust Action Plan with SMART
         (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-bound) objectives and
         milestones focussing on key priorities.

        There should be a clear indication of how actions will contribute to meeting
         other service and wider corporate objectives.

        The Action Plan should be explicitly linked with the expected revenue and
         capital resources.

        The Strategy should include a timetable of work to be undertaken to update
         and develop the Housing Strategy further.

9.       Progress to date. To what extent does the Strategy report on progress
         against previous targets and objectives?

        The monitoring procedures in place to track progress on the Action Plan,
         including how members and service users are involved, should be described.

        The arrangements for monitoring the quality of services and user satisfaction,
         and how this feeds back into service planning processes, needs to be
         explained including examples of post scheme evaluation.

        Information should be given on what feedback mechanisms are in place.

        Information should be presented on spend, outputs and outcomes achieved in
         recent years against objectives and targets with a clear explanation of any
         significant under-spends or over-spends.

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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
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10.       Accessibility. Could a non-specialist reader quickly understand the key
          messages in the Housing Strategy?

To ensure that it meets the needs of a range of audiences the Housing Strategy
needs to:

         Be concise – around a maximum length of 30 pages (with references to how
          to access more detailed information, e.g. on stock condition surveys).

         Include a clear summary of the main points on the analysis of needs, current
          performance, priorities for action and the Action Plan and a contents page at
          the front of the document.

         Be well structured and written in clear, simple language (versions in
          languages other than English and other formats such as Braille or via the
          Internet may be needed).

         Provide contact details and references to other relevant documents.




Reproduced from Housing Strategy Centre for Excellence Good Practice Briefing 1 with permission
from Housing Quality Network Services


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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
North West


APPENDIX D GUIDANCE ON LOAN ADMINISTRATION

Local authorities must be aware of all aspects of consumer credit regulation and
guidance. The principal regulators for financial services are the Financial Services
Authority (mortgage regulation), and the Office of Fair Trading (Consumer Credit
regulation).

 Any financial service providers including local authorities and housing associations
may give advice about their own financial products. However, local authorities and
housing associations must not offer financial advice on other financial products. They
can only offer information on the availability of other products. Where loans are being
offered, especially if the local authority is working jointly with another agency to
promote any loan or equity release scheme, the person should be strongly advised to
consult an independent financial advisor. Where appropriate, they should advise
those considering equity release products to consult their family.

Local authorities and housing associations (but not their wholly owned subsidiaries)
are exempt from the Financial Services Authority‟s authorisation for mortgage lending
and administration, arranging and advising. However, they must still adhere to the
underlying key principles of mortgage regulation which will be taken into account in
any case referred to the Local Government Ombudsman. These are that:

(i) authorities must ensure that their procedures are open and readily accessible to
members and clients; and that

(ii) loans are administered in a manner which is both reasonable and fair.
3.27 Local authority bodies who decide to operate a policy of assistance in
association with a third party, for example a special purpose vehicle or HIA, should
be aware that this body may be subject to FSA regulation unless they fail the
„business test.‟ Organisations fail the business test for mortgage arranging and
advising if they are not „carrying out the business of engaging in that activity‟ in
accordance with the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Carrying on
Regulated Activities by Way of Business) Order 2001 (SI 2001 No.1177).

The Order also provides that local authorities must satisfy themselves that recipients
have received appropriate advice or information on any obligations arising from the
assistance. This applies whether the local authority is providing the assistance
directly or through third parties.




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APPENDIX E             NOTES ON EQUITY RELEASE LOANS

1.     Background

Equity release schemes may be the best method of assisting low-income
homeowners if there is substantial equity value in their homes, even though the
homes are in need of repair. Evidence from recent surveys suggests that this is often
the case although the position varies greatly between different parts of the country.
Valuing the home in the improved condition and then applying the loan as a
percentage enables financial assistance to families living in homes which may not
have qualified for extensive works. This gives the potential to deal with homes which
require major improvement to tackle non decency issues.

A number of equity release schemes already exist in the commercial market. There
are two principal types. One is a rolled-up interest loan on which no periodic interest
payments are required and where the capital plus interest is eventually paid from the
proceeds of sale. The alternative product is a reversion where the owner sells their
home, or part of it, to a reversion company who allows the owners to live rent free in
the property for the remainder of their life. The sum received by the owners for this
sale will be much less than the market value of the property sold, reflecting the fact
that they can continue to live rent free in the property for the rest of their lives. The
proportion of the market value received will depend largely on the age of the owner.
On death the proportion of the home sold to the reversion company becomes the
property of that company.

These commercial products can be expensive to set up, and constitute a long-term
commitment. They therefore require careful consideration before being taken up.
Under a rolled-up interest product the amount owed can double in 7-10 years
depending on the agreed rate of interest. Such products are therefore only suitable
for a restricted client group – and generally are available to those over 60 with little,
or no, mortgage, and property of a minimum value (generally in the region of £40-
60,000). The commercial products usually also require the client to take a minimum
loan of about £25,000, with a maximum loan of around 30% of the property‟s value.

Equity release products have had a difficult history and there were particular
problems with home income plans that were sold in the 1980s. Local Authorities may
therefore find that previous bad publicity and negative consumer associations
regarding equity release may effect the introduction and subsequent take up of loan
products. The marketing and launch of products may need to be handled sensitively
and negative perceptions addressed, not only from potential customers but also
Council Officers and elected members.

RSL Assisted Equity Release Scheme

In response to the above mentioned problems, a small number of organisations
within the public sector (mainly Housing Associations), have been working with
private partners, including financial consultants, to develop products that are more
acceptable to both home owners and potential Local Authority sponsors. One
example of this type of product is the „Home Improve‟ Equity Release loan delivered
by the Regenda Group of Housing Associations and currently available in 7 Local
Authority areas in the North West.

Typical safeguards within these products will include:

       • Interest rates that are fixed or capped;      „Home Improve‟ capped at 6.5%
       • Guaranteed security of tenure for life;

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       • A no negative equity guarantee to ensure that the amount owed can never
       be more than the value of the home. This means that the lender will not
       pursue the estate for any shortfall between the debt and sale proceeds of the
       property;      Home Improve Equity Release does not require a weekly or
       monthly repayment. However there may still be a mortgage on the property
       provided as a first charge by a high street lender and if the repayments are
       not made on this loan the home may be at risk;

       • The borrower is able to move property and take the loan with them;
       (N.B. not available through the „Home Improve‟ Scheme where loan is repaid
       on disposal of property)

       • The maximum loan to value ratio which can be borrowed can be relatively
       small, linked to age or other checks made to try to ensure that the debt does
       not exceed the value of the property.;          The „Home Improve Scheme
       ensures that a customer must retain a 20% interest in the property after loan
       and current mortgage commitment to protect against negative equity.
       However, Local Authorities should be aware that, as the loan is based on a
       „share‟ in any appreciation, there is a risk (although small) that a proportion of
       the loan may be lost if house prices fall.


Despite these improvements equity release products do involve a degree of risk to
the borrower and will not be the right form of loan to help with housing renewal in all
cases. Local authorities should be aware of these limitations.




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Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
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APPENDIX F STOCK CONDITION SURVEY FLOWCHART (MANCHESTER)

                                              Private Sector Housing
                                              Manchester City Council
                                        Meeting the Decent Homes Standard


            1.                                                                                   3.
       BRE Modelling                                                                        ODPM Sampling
                                                                                             Methodology

                                                        5.
                                              Stratified Sampling
            2.
       Decent Homes                                                                                4.
         Baseline                                                                               GIS Input
                                                                                          for sampling dataset



                                                   6.
                                           Completed Tender for
 BRE Delivery June 1st / July 13th
                                          House Condition Survey
                                                                                                   Input

                                                                                                     8.
                                                                                                Salford Joint
            7.                                                                                    Working
         H.H.S.R.S
        Methodology
                                                      11.
                                              Selection of Survey                                    9.
                                                  Consultant                                     Supporting
                                                                                                  People
 Consultant hired by Mid July


                                                                                                     10.
                                                   12.                                          Energy Group
                                          House Condition Survey
 Survey completed by Mid September


             13.
                                                                             Data Exchange
        Data Transfer
                                                                            on energy matters
         From CAPS
          29/08/05

             14.
         Flare / DHS                                  16.
           HHSRS                           Flare Database/Reporting
          Training                            Tracking of targets
                                               Outputs for ODPM

 Flare Live 5th Sept 2005                                                                        Joint working
                                                                                                on energy issues

 HHSRS implemented October2005




                              17.                                                  15.
                                                       18.
                             PSH                                               HMO / PRS
                                                      H.I.A
                        Interventions                                           Licensing




                                                                                                  43
     Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
     North West

     APPENDIX G DEFECTS/HAZARDS COMMON PRIVATE SECTOR STOCK
     (MANCHESTER)

                     Defects/Hazards Common to Private Sector Stock (Manchester)
                  (always assume most vulnerable person relative to specific hazard )
                                                                                      Hazard (HHSRS)
Location                            Defect leading to creation of Hazard
                            Location/element/description in bold denotes likely high
                                                 probability.
Roof Level               Slipped/broken roof coverings coming off roof slope. Leaning Structural
                         chimney stack/pots etc. Loose sections of coping stones, Collapse and
                         heavy gutters, bargeboards or other timber. (Note – terraced Falling Elements.
                         houses giving directly onto street magnify hazards
                         associated with the above defects).

Walls                    Loose brickwork/garden/yard walls leaning. Window glass        Falling Elements
                         cracked and loose. Heavy down pipes and soil pipes
                         corroded, clips/fixings loose/missing.                         Damp/Mould
                         Any rainwater goods leaking.

Approach to              Paths/drives uneven, breaking up, holding water/freezing in    Falls on Level
Dwelling                 winter.

Steps to Doors           Large rise. Loose/worn/uneven steps of different               Falls associated
                         heights..slippery due to moss, leaking water etc.              with Steps

Front/Back and           Badly fitting/frame rotten. Poor locks no security mortise     Entry by
other External           locks or shoot bolts internally. Poor quality/flimsy or bad    Intruders
Doors                    design door.

Windows at               Large casements/no window locks.                               Entry by
Ground Floor             Single glazing.                                                Intruders
Level                                                                                   Excess Cold
Kitchen Areas            Small ill-defined steps down into kitchen.                     Falls Associated
                         Lack of space less than 2m in any direction                    with Steps
                         Poor layout of units, especially cooker adj door swing. No     Ergonomics
                         work surfaces near.
                         Old (20 years) units.
                         Badly scratched/worn food preparation surfaces.

Yard or Garden or        Dilapidated and dangerous structures and outbuildings          Structural
other areas around       including detached buildings such as garages etc (not light    Collapse
dwelling.                timber structures such as sheds etc).                          Failing Elements
                         Air raid shelters, lean-to, wc or high boundary walls (1.5m
                         and above) etc.                                                Falls on Level
                         Uneven hard surfaces/ponding/ice formation (location of dust
                         bin and need/reason to have to use that part of the            Asbestos
                         yard/garden.
                         Asbestos in outbuildings.

Stairs (ground)          Loose/missing spindles. Badly designed balustrade (ranch       Falls on Stairs
Landings                 fence type).
                         Loose/missing handrail/no finger room. Cannot grip
Stairs to Cellar         handrail/poor profile.                                         Falls between
                         Badly worn nosings.                                            levels
                         All as above but also poor lighting/loose/missing handrail     Lighting
                         Stone/concrete/brick steps uneven/worn/slippery. Lack of       Falls on Steps /
Stairs to Attic          headroom.                                                      Collision
                         Note ~ Cellar/basement steps – severity increases with
                         frequency of use i.e. washing machine etc located in cellar    Falls on level
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      Delivering Decent Homes in the Private Sector - Guidance for implementation in the
      North West

Stairs General         area, elec/gas meters etc.                                           Falls on Stairs
                       As above but also steepness/narrow width/lack of any                 Fire
                       handrail or at wrong height. Winding steps and loose step
                       coverings. Lack of two-way lighting.
                       If the stairway to dwelling does not terminate near a final exit
                       (i.e. In hall), but is in a room (inner room situation) this poses
                       a particular fire trap hazard. If this is the case, double-check
                       that there is an escape window at floor level.

Windows                Low cill/window board height above floor level (less than            Falls between
                       800mm)                                                               levels
                       (Risk/severity increases with height above ground).
                       Need for ESCAPE windows at first floor level.                        Fire
                       Lack of restraint on outward opening windows.

Glazing                Non safety glass in critical locations – i.e. in doors               Falls on Level
                       (particularly at base of stairway/low cill windows.                  Collision
Services/Electricity   Where are the gas and electric meters located? (Is it                Electrical Safety
                       convenient/safe for re-setting popped circuit breakers or re-
                       wireable fuses?)
                       Is the wiring upvc (grey colour) – when was last re-wire? Old
                       rubber covered cable is a particular hazard. Braided pendant
                       light flex indicates old system.
                       Many house fires are the result of defective electrical
                       installations.
Gas                    Are the gas distribution pipes in lead / old/ porous?)               Explosion
                       How old are gas fires / when were they last serviced.
                                                                                            Carbon
                       FAULTY GAS INSTALLATIONS POSE A TRIPLE HAZARD                        monoxide
                           1) They can explode
                           2) They can produce carbon monoxide
                           3) They can leak natural gas.                                    Uncombusted
                       Almost every house in the city has at least one gas fire! Has        Fuel Gas
                       the house got central heating?
Central Heating        Absent or not working                                                Excess cold.




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