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Foreword

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									Neighbourhood Services




Private Sector
Housing Strategy:
Technical Paper
DRAFT
July 2007
                         Table of Contents
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Section                                                   Page

Introduction                                                 1

Section 1:     Context                                       2

Section 2 :    Milton Keynes‟ Population                    10

Section 3:     The Housing Market in Milton Keynes          16

Section 4:     Private Sector Housing Conditions            18

Section 5:     Housing Health and Safety Rating (HHSRS)     23

Section 6:     Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)          28

Section 7:     Grants                                       34

Section 8:     Empty Homes                                  37

Appendix 1:    The Decent Homes Standard                    41

Appendix 2:    Homes in Multiple Occupation                 45

Appendix 3:    Home Bond                                    49

Appendix 4:    BRE Housing Stock Projections                55

Appendix 5:    Profile of the Private Rented Sector         56

Appendix 6:    Analysis of “Housing Options” Interviews     73
              Introduction
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Background

This Technical Paper is a supplement to the Draft Private Sector Housing Strategy. The
purpose of the document is to:

       Give background information to the national policy context around Private Sector
        Housing Conditions;

       Give more information about Private Sector Housing Conditions in Milton Keynes;

       Explain in more detail about the legal framework which governs the Council‟s
        Private Sector Housing powers and duties (in particular the Housing Act 2004);

What the Technical Paper doesn‟t do is give an exhaustive or comprehensive
interpretation of the law.

Our reason for writing the Technical Paper was to strike balance between giving the
necessary (but length) statistical and policy information that a Strategy needs, whilst
keeping the Strategy readable.

Decent Homes
The Government has set targets for local authorities to bring private sector housing up to
its “Decent Homes” standard. The targets aim to decrease the amount of non-decent
homes occupied by “vulnerable” households (defined as households receiving state
benefits, including families with children) in the private sector.

Private Sector Housing Conditions in Milton Keynes

In January 2007, the Building Research Establishment provided the Council with an
estimate of housing conditions in the Private Sector in Milton Keynes. The report noted
that:

   Around 2,809 vulnerable households are living in non-decent homes in the private
    sector, just 4% of the total private sector stock. This compares well to the national
    average of 7%;

   Around 3,794 dwellings are predicted to have a Category 1 Hazard under the Housing
    Health and Safety Rating System. This accounts for 6% of the stock (compared to 19%
    for England). The authority has a duty to consider taking action in dwellings where a
    Category 1 Hazard is discovered

The Draft Private Sector Housing Strategy sets out how we propose to deal with these
challenges.




                                                                                          1
                                   Section 1: Context
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National Context – Decent Homes

The Housing Green Paper April 2000 and the Housing Policy Statement („Quality and
Choice: A decent home for all‟, published in December 2000), set out the Government‟s
key housing policy aim of providing everyone with the opportunity to live in a decent home.
The Government introduced the Decent Homes Standard in July 2000. To meet the
standard, a property must meet the following four criteria:

a) It meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing
b) It is in a reasonable state of repair
c) It has reasonably modern facilities and services
d) It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort

The Government established a target to ensure that all social housing meets a set
standard of decency by 2010 (with most of the improvement taking place in the most
deprived local authority areas). The 2002 Spending Review extended the target to the
private sector with a focus on vulnerable households. The amended target is now “by
2010, to bring all social housing into decent condition, with most of the improvement taking
place in deprived areas, and increase the proportion of private housing in decent condition
occupied by vulnerable groups”'.

There are specific targets for the proportion of vulnerable households (including families
with children) in the private sector whose homes should achieve the decency standard.
The baseline for 2001 is 57% and the target is to increase this to 63% by 2005, to 70% by
2010, and to 75% by 2015/201. The Government defines vulnerable households as those
in receipt of at least one of the principal means tested or disability related benefits. In the
Government‟s view, the approach to making private sector homes decent will be different
from the social sector. This reflects the different ownership responsibilities and the
legislative framework guiding enforcement powers.

English House Condition Survey 2001
A decent home is important for everyone. It is especially so for vulnerable people, such as
the elderly and young children, and people with illness or disability who may have a higher
health and safety risk associated with living in homes that are not decent. The EHCS
noted that “Overall, older households are only a little more likely than average to live in a
non decent home (35%). However, in the following circumstances elderly people are more
likely to live in non decent homes: where the older person lives alone, those on low
household income in the private sector, households containing or comprising people over
85 years of age, those who have been long term resident owners (over 30 years) of their
current home, and private tenants”.

The Decent Homes programme is vitally important. The EHCS showed that some 6.7
million households (33%) live in non decent homes (around 2.2 million less than in 1996.)
In turn, 5.2 million of these households live in the private sector (31% of all private sector
households) and 1.5 million are social tenants (37%).

Note 1: Source: Circular 05/2003




                                                                                             2
 In the private sector some types of households are more likely than average to live in non
decent homes:

   43% of the poorest fifth of private sector households are living in non decent homes, as
    are 42% of those below retirement age who are either economically inactive or
    unemployed and;
   Around 41% of ethnic minorities.

Some sections of older people are also more likely to live in non decent homes in the
private sector:

   39% of elderly households (that include someone aged 75 years or more);
   40% of people aged 60 years or more living alone; and
   47% of households who have been resident 30 years or more.

In contrast there is relatively little difference in the housing conditions of different groups
within the social sector but where 37% of households live in non decent homes. The
government PSA target for the private housing sector is concerned with reducing the
proportion of „vulnerable‟ households living in non decent homes (households in receipt of
income or disability related benefits). Some 1.2 million (43% of all) vulnerable households
in the private housing sector live in non decent homes, a reduction from 1.5 million (58%)
in 1996.

Decent Homes Update 2006

In June 2006 the Government issued "A Decent Home: The definition and guidance for
implementation: June 2006 Update”. The document reviewed progress made and restates
targets, but also clarified various issues. These issues included a significant change in the
way non decent homes are measured i.e. the replacement of the Fitness Standard by the
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (also called the Rating System) as the means
of assessing minimum standards of housing. This is one of the four components of the
Decent Homes Standard, and a definition of this standard including the Rating System is
provided in Appendix xx.

Nationally around 4 million homes are expected to contain a Category 1 Hazard under the
Rating System (which triggers a failure of the Decent Homes Standard). This is mainly
because of the hazard from excessive cold which affects a greater proportion of homes
than any other hazard and contributes towards and contributes towards over 20,000
excess winter deaths per annum (as estimated by the Building Research Establishment 0
BRE)

The impact on local authorities should not, however, be overstated as a large proportion of
the homes failing on excessive cold will already have been accounted for by the Thermal
Comfort criteria of the Decent Homes standard, which requires basic heating systems and
insulation measures. Having said that, local authorities do have a duty to consider taking
enforcement action where they discover a Category 1 hazard and this is likely to place an
increased demand on resources, particularly for private sector housing enforcement action
in the private rented sector.

At the local level authorities are expected to identify the level of non decent homes
occupied by vulnerable households within their areas and, within the level of resources
available, to produce a robust and consistent policy response to the problem. The

                                                                                             3
response is expected to be sufficient to ensure at the national level targets for the private
sector are being achieved. The manner in which this is achieved is a matter for discussion
with the Government Office for the region, in relation to policy priorities set out in the
Regional Housing Strategy and the local authority Housing Strategy. The Government,
however, are not going to provide the Regional Housing Boards with information on
vulnerable households in decent homes until the most recent English House Condition
Survey (EHCS) data is available (which since 2005 has once again included the Rating
System), so at present the targets at local level are set out very simply. They are:

   To show a year-on-year increase in the proportion of vulnerable households living in
    decent homes and
   As a minimum to reach the target figure of 70% by 2010.

To establish a baseline the DCLG makes it clear in its June 2006 update that it expects
authorities to undertake a stock condition survey. However they also expect authorities to
go beyond this, as stock condition information alone is considered insufficient as a basis
for developing policy. The June 2006 update identifies the following key information to set
a baseline position:

1. The number of non-decent private sector dwellings in the owner-occupied and private
   rented sectors;
2. The reasons for these dwellings failing the decency standard in relation to the criteria,
   and the approximate cost of rectifying the problem;
3. The number of vulnerable households living in the private sector and the proportion of
   them living in non-decent homes; and
4. An analysis of the local housing market, with an emphasis on the present and future
   levels of un-mortgaged equity in the target non-decent properties occupied by
   vulnerable households, and the socio-economic circumstances of the occupiers.

The analysis of this final item will help to determine the appropriate policy response in
terms of the potential for loans and equity release policies in addition to grants.

Sustainable Communities Plan February 2003

In February 2003, the Deputy Prime Minister published the Sustainable Communities Plan
(updated in January 2005). This seeks to build on the economic success of London and
the wider South East of England and to sustain the international competitiveness of the
area. A key message was that the provision of new homes must keep pace with the
numbers of new households. The Plan was clear that radical action is needed now. It
stated that the current housing pressures in London, the South East and other regional
hotspots are acute and ambitious solutions are required if we are to avoid the urban sprawl
of the past. The Plan designated Milton Keynes as one of four Growth Areas. The
Government‟s agenda for Milton Keynes is around the supply of new housing rather than
private sector renewal.

Regulatory Reform Order 2002

Until July 2003, the Council was empowered to give grants under the Housing Grants,
Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. Loans could be given under the Housing Act
1985. The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002
made the following significant changes:


                                                                                           4
   A new general power enabling local housing authorities to provide assistance for
    housing renewal
   Repealed the detailed legislative provisions in the Housing Grants, Construction and
    Regeneration Act 1996 regarding Renovation Grants, Common Parts Grants, HMO
    Grants, Group Repair and Home Repair Assistance
   Repealed the provisions in the Housing 1985 Act relating to loans given by local
    housing authorities for housing renewal
   Streamlined the provisions governing the declaration and operation of Renewal Areas
   Made minor changes to the provisions in relation to Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) but
    the system for providing mandatory DFGs remains largely unchanged

Housing Act 2004

The Housing Act 2004 has made major changes to the system for dealing with housing
conditions in the Private Sector. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Officers
has described it as a unique opportunity to better protect the health and well-being of
tenants living in some of the worst housing in the UK. The key provisions are as follows:

   Part 1 of the Act introduces a new, evidence based Housing Health and Safety Rating
    System (HHSRS) as a more effective basis for enforcement against unacceptable
    housing conditions. The new system replaces the housing fitness standard set out in
    section 604 of the Housing Act 1985;

   Part 2 improves the controls on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) including a
    mandatory national licensing scheme to tackle poor physical and management
    standards. The Council will have to license the types of HMOs prescribed by the
    Government (initially homes that are 3 storeys and above, occupied by at least 5
    persons who constitute more than one household). Local housing authorities may
    license other categories of HMOs under an additional licensing scheme. The Council
    will have to promote licensing and ensure that we deal with licensing applications
    promptly. We will also have to make sure that any hazards arising under Part 1 are
    dealt with as soon as possible and in any case within 5 years of the first application for
    a licence;

   Part 3 introduces a power for the Council to introduce selective licensing to deal with
    particular problems in an area. Selective licensing has to be primarily focused on areas
    of low housing demand, areas that are likely to fall into that category and other areas
    suffering from a particular problem, such as anti-social behaviour. The power will also
    be available to tackle these problems outside areas of low demand through a
    discretionary power for the Council to license all private landlords in designated areas.
    Selective licensing will need to be part of a wider strategy to deal with anti-social
    behaviour and the regeneration of an area. Much of the administrative detail of
    selective licensing is similar to that for Government approved HMO licensing schemes;

   Part 4 gives additional controls relating to residential accommodation. It introduces a
    system of Interim and Final Management Orders. These orders must be made where
    HMO or a Part 3 house ought to be licensed but is not and either there is no
    reasonable prospect of the house becoming licensed in the near future, or the health
    and safety condition is met, or the Council intends to revoke an existing licence and
    either there is no prospect of a new licence being issued in the near future, or the
    health and safety condition will be satisfied. Part 4 also gives the Council powers to
    make Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO‟s) which will enable the Council to

                                                                                            5
    step into the shoes of owners of unoccupied dwellings to secure the dwellings'
    occupation;

   Part 5 requires sellers of properties to produce a home information pack (essentially an
    impartial report about the condition of the property) and to make it available to
    prospective purchasers. The Government will publish details of specific requirements
    in Regulations. They will also include the appointment of Authorised Home Inspectors
    but will not come fully into force until 2007.

   Part 6 introduces various provisions about secure tenancies, right to buy and disposals
    attracting discounts, mobile homes (including site agreements, protection from
    eviction), powers to introduce orders to control overcrowding, miscellaneous provisions
    relating to RSLs, disabled facilities grants and caravans and a social housing
    ombudsman for Wales.

   Part 7 sets out a range of provisions including the establishment and operation of
    residential property tribunals, registers and licences that council‟s must maintain,
    powers of entry, HMO definitions and a new provision which will empower local
    authorities to declare, by notice, that property is an HMO. This part also addresses the
    question as to when persons form a single household, for the purposes of the HMO
    definition.

Explanatory notes prepared by the Government can be viewed by clicking on the link
below.

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/en2004/2004en34.htm#end

English House Condition Survey Annual Report 2004

This report was published in September 2006 and showed that:

       The number of homes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard between 2001-
        2004 fell from 7.1 million to 6.3 million;
       The most common failure was the thermal comfort criterion;
       In 2004 5.1 million private sector homes were non-decent and 1.3 million social
        sector homes were non-decent (making up 29% and 31% of their stock
        respectively);
       On average it costs £6,650 to bring a home up to the Standard. However the costs
        vary enormously depending upon which criteria of the standard homes fail on.
        Those failing to meet the thermal comfort criterion only require an average of
        £1,884 to make them decent. By contrast those in need of work to meet the other
        criteria required on average £13,508;
       In the private sector older properties are over-represented in the non-decent stock.
        Over a third (36%) of non-decent homes were built before 1919, compared to just
        24% of all private sector homes
       On average social rented homes are more efficient than the private sector. The
        social sector has an average „SAP‟ energy rating of 58, compared to the private
        sector average of 50
       Of the 17.1 million households in the Private Sector, around 3 million (18%) are
        vulnerable
       Housing conditions for vulnerable households in the Private Sector are worse than
        for other Private Sector households. 34% (1 million) of vulnerable households live

                                                                                          6
       in non-decent households compared to 27% for other private sector households.
       Despite this housing conditions for vulnerable households have been improving at a
       faster rate;
      The average cost to make homes of vulnerable households decent was higher than
       for other households living in non-decent homes in the Private Sector (8,028
       compared to 6,663). This is because vulnerable households are more likely to live
       in homes which failed due to the former fitness, repair or modernisation criteria
       which tend to be more costly than improvements to meet the thermal comfort
       criterion.

To view a copy of the EHCS Annual Report 2004 click on the link below.

http://www.communities.gov.uk/pub/429/EnglishHouseConditionSurveyAnnualReport_1d5
02429.pdf

The Milton Keynes and South Midlands (MKSM) Sub-Regional Strategy March
2005

The Regional Planning Guidance for the South East of England is RPG9. In July 2003,
the Government published a „Consultation Draft Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-
Regional Strategy‟. This Strategy built on the findings of the MKSM Study (Sept 2002) & it
performs the role of altering Regional Planning Guidance Note 9 (RPG9).                  The
Government published the revised Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-Regional
Strategy‟ in March 2005. This sets out the scale of housing development until 2021. For
Milton Keynes, the MKSM states that Milton Keynes should “embrace its growth potential
to mature as a major regional centre, particularly through the substantial development of
its central area, supported by a significantly enhanced public transport system to facilitate
and support growth in major development areas”. The Government‟s target is that in the
Milton Keynes area, 44,900 new homes will be built in the period 2001-2021.            With
regards to regeneration/urban renewal in Milton Keynes Policy P3 sets out a need for
urban renaissance consisting of major public realm improvements and the provision of
high quality, and well-managed strategic and local open space. Within the Milton Keynes
and Aylesbury Vale area, Milton Keynes Partnership Committee will be delivering the
growth that is needed. It is a sub-committee of English Partnerships, the Government‟s
leading Regeneration Agency for England. English Partnerships has a key role in the
creation and membership of Urban Regeneration Companies, Millennium Communities
and City Centre Regeneration Programmes, all of which involve public and private sector
partners and which involve regeneration of public and private sector land.

To view a copy of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands (MKSM) Sub-Regional Strategy
click on the link below.

http://www.go-se.gov.uk/gose/news/newsarchive/mksmSRS/

South East Regional Housing Strategy July 2005

Our region is a huge region with over 8 million people living in 19 County and Unitary
Authorities and 55.      The South East Regional Housing Board advises Government
Ministers on strategic housing investment priorities.      The Government then funds
investment priorities through the Regional Housing Boards in line with the Boards Housing
Strategy. The Council‟s Local Housing Strategic Partnership has commented on this
Strategy.

                                                                                           7
The vision of the South East Regional Housing Strategy is that everyone has the right to a
decent home. The last few years have seen dramatic house price inflation in this area. As
a result there has been a growing housing affordability problem for people on low and
medium incomes. Those that have stretched their resources to buy homes have often
found themselves in older decaying properties without the additional means to provide
necessary improvements to their homes. Older people also often own their own properties
but these are again often unfit or falling into disrepair especially where the owners are on
State support and do not have the disposable income to invest in necessary repairs.
Whilst the key priority of the Regional Strategy is to increase the supply of housing, it also
expresses concern about the large numbers of non-decent and unfit properties because
many of the most vulnerable people in the region live in sub-standard accommodation and
cannot afford to maintain their homes.

Decent Homes Update 2006

In June 2006 the Government issued ”A Decent Home: The definition and guidance for
implementation: June 2006 Update”. The document reviewed progress made and restates
targets, but also clarified various issues. These issues included a significant change in the
way non decent homes are measured i.e. the replacement of the Fitness Standard by the
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (also called the Rating System) as the means
of assessing minimum standards of housing. This is one of the four components of the
Decent Homes Standard.

To establish a baseline the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
made it clear that it expects authorities to undertake a stock condition survey. However
they also expect authorities to go beyond this, as stock condition information alone is
considered insufficient as a basis for developing policy.

The June 2006 update identifies the following key information to set a baseline position:

   The number of non-decent private sector dwellings in the owner-occupied and private
    rented sectors;
   The reasons for these dwellings failing the decency standard in relation to the criteria,
    and the approximate cost of rectifying the problem;
   The number of vulnerable households living in the private sector and the proportion of
    them living in non-decent homes; and
   An analysis of the local housing market, with an emphasis on the present and future
    levels of un-mortgaged equity in the target non-decent properties occupied by
    vulnerable households, and the socio-economic circumstances of the occupiers.

The analysis of this final item will help to determine the appropriate policy response in
terms of the potential for loans and equity release policies in addition to grants.

Regional Housing Strategy Review – February 2007

The Consultation Draft Strategy suggests that increased investment is needed to make
progress on the target that 70% of vulnerable households in the private sector should be in
decent housing by 2010. It also suggests that, as things stand at present, there is relatively
little funding going into this other than from the regional funding allocation and the
Government's "Warm Front" programme.


                                                                                            8
Resources could continue to be targeted on the areas with greatest need as in 2006-08.
There is, however, a complication in that the Housing Health and Safety Rating has now
replaced the fitness standard. It will be some time before data is available on the new
rating system across the region. Data on unfitness might still be used but this is not being
updated.

To view a copy of the South East Regional Housing Strategy click on the link below.

http://www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/our_work/planning/housing/strategy.html

Law Commission Consultation – Responsible Letting – July 2007

The Law Commission noted that “The private rented sector is subject to a great deal of
regulatory law. Although enacted with the best of intentions, in many respects the law does
not operate as Parliament hoped. Too much rented property is poorly managed. This is
most evident in the gap between the minimum standards of housing condition that
Parliament has prescribed and official data on the condition of accommodation in the
private rented sector…..One consequence of poor housing management and housing
standards is that the private rented sector continues to suffer from a poor reputation which,
arguably, prevents it from playing as full a role in the housing market as it should.”

The report also found that nationally;

   The Private Rented Sector is predominantly a tenure of the young;
   Two thirds of households living in the Private Rented sector are economically active
    (which is double the proportion in the social (council and RSL) rented housing sector);
   In 2005, 9% of private renters and 10% of social renters had a gross income, including
    that of any partner, of less than £5,000 a year. For those with a gross income of less
    than £15,000 a year, 44% were in the private rented sector, compared with 27% of
    owner occupiers and 73% of those in social housing. While only 6% of those living in
    social housing had an income of more than £30,000 per annum, a quarter of those
    renting privately did. This includes the 8% of private renters with an income above
    £50,000. The income profile of private renters is therefore significantly different from
    that of social renters: while the private rented sector houses a similar proportion of the
    very poorest (the young or those in low paid employment), poverty is not nearly as
    concentrated. Indeed parts of the private rented sector accommodate the wealthiest.26
    In 2005, 21% of private tenants (442,000) received housing benefit, as compared with
    60% of social renting tenants.Minority ethnic households are more likely to be living in
    private rented housing than white households. While 10% of white household reference
    persons rent privately, 21% of those from minority communities live in the sector. All
    minority communities are over-represented in private renting, with the exception of
    those of Black/Caribbean origin (9%).
   As regards the various components that make up the Government‟s decent homes
    standard,44 in 2004 14.3% of private rented sector dwellings failed the repair criterion,
    as compared with 7.2% of owner occupied, 7.9% of local authority and only 4.1% of
    Registered Social Landlord dwellings. The proportion of dwellings failing the fitness
    criterion was much higher than for other sectors: 9.8% of private rented dwellings fail
    as compared with 3.7% of owner occupied, 5.8% of local authority and 3.5% of
    Registered Social Landlord dwellings.




                                                                                            9
                       Section 2: Milton Keynes Population
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Background to Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes was designated as a new town in 1967. Building began in 1970 around the
existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford, Wolverton and New Bradwell and thirteen
villages. Unemployment in the Milton Keynes Unitary Authority area fell by 79 claimants to
a rate of 2.3% between July and August 2006. The Milton Keynes rate is below the United
Kingdom average of 2.6% but above the rate of 1.6% for the South East. However,
alongside our economic success and prosperity, there is deprivation and disadvantage.
The ODPM “Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004” shows that a number of wards in Milton
Keynes fall within the most deprived 10% of wards in the UK. It outlined deprivation levels
relating to Health and Disability. This is at Super Output Area level which is a sub-division
of the ward boundaries effective in 2004. The Council‟s Social Atlas 2006 shows the rank
of Milton Keynes‟s Super Output Areas (SOAs) compared to other SOA‟s in England. It
clearly shows areas in Woughton ward and on area in Eaton Manor Ward as having the
most deprivation relating to health and disability in Milton Keynes. For more information
see

http://www.mkiobservatory.org.uk/download/ius5ilnwdhw3mjay5i3zmz55/3991/SocialAtlas
2006.pdf
The Atlas also contains estate profiles which include a population-weighted estate
summary of the relative rankings under the 2004 Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). This
shows the estates with the highest ranking as Netherfield, Bean Hill and Stacey Bushes.
The private sector is actually relatively low in these areas (29% for Netherfield, 28% for
Beanhill and 35% for Stacey Bushes).

Population

 The Census 2001 put the population at just over 207,000. This was subsequently revised
to 212,710). Our estimate of the population in June 2006 was 222,350 people. Significant
growth is expected in the future as follows:

   By 2016: 276,600
   By 2026: 326,190
   By 2031: 348,260

The borough‟s population age profile is younger than that for England as a whole, with half
of the borough‟s population aged under 35 years old (the median age). Nationally, half of
the population is aged less than 38. The 30-44 year olds in Milton Keynes Borough can be
seen as the largest proportion of the population.

By 2011, the borough‟s population will have changed. The median age will be around 36
years because of migration and births to current residents. The age profile will still be
younger than for England, which will have a corresponding value of about 40 years for the
median. The 30-34 age will be the single largest age band in the Borough. The number of
50-54 year olds will have seen a large increase in the Borough, and the number of over 60
year olds will experience a very large jump. There will also be a peak in the 25-29 year
olds, and a larger number of young children under 10. For more information see the
Population Bulletin at http://www.mkweb.co.uk/statistics/home.asp

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Table 1 below shows that population projections to 2031 by age. These projections
illustrate the aging that will be expected to occur in the population between 2001 and
2031. However, large numbers of younger in-migrants may help to offset the impact of
this. Even with high numbers of in-migrants, the population is expected to change such
that over 22% of the population will be aged 60 plus by 2031. This compares to around
14% in 2001.

Table 1: Population Projections to 2031




There are around 1 million people within a 30 minutes drive time of Milton Keynes and
around 7.5m within one hour, providing a very large population to both work and shop in
the area. Service industries form the major employment in the Borough but there are also
manufacturing industries and some agricultural employment.

Older People

In 2004 there were 31,200 people aged 60 and over in the Borough. This number is
expected to increase by 35% to 42,050 by 2011. The corresponding percentage increase
nationally is 13%. This group shows the largest increase between 2004 and 2031 of 58%
nationally, and 138% in Milton Keynes. Page xx of this document has noted the link
nationally between older people living in non-decent homes in the private sector.

Health of our Population

The results of the 2001 Census showed that Milton Keynes compared favourably with
England as a whole in terms of health: - 72.5 % of our population had Good Health
compared to 68.8% in England. Tackling inequalities is an issue that matters to community
leaders in Milton Keynes. The Council leads a Milton Keynes wide multi-sector
programme for improving health and tackling health inequalities through our role in the
LSP.

The Annual Public Health Report 2006 (published by the Primary Care Trust in April 2007)
expressed the following concerns:

   The leading causes of death in Milton Keynes are the same as those for the country as
    a whole – circulatory diseases (especially heart disease and stroke), cancer and
    respiratory disease;
   Death rates from the major killers , especially heart disease, are falling in Milton
    Keynes, but the city has higher than average rates of respiratory deaths (chronic
    obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and pneumonia;
    Milton Keynes also has higher than average death rates from accidents – especially
    amongst elderly women, often following falls and hip fracture;


                                                                                      11
   There is a strong association between socio-economic deprivation and ill-health.
    Woughton, the most deprived ward in Milton Keynes, has the highest death rates and
    lowest life expectancy in Milton Keynes. Life expectancy for babies born in Woughton
    is about five years less than the average for Milton Keynes. It has the ward in Milton
    Keynes with the lowest levels of income and the poorest levels of health and disability

   Milton Keynes is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. All agencies need to build
    strong links with minority communities to make sure that their services meet the needs
    of all those they serve (see page xx of this document)

The Housing Needs Study 2006 showed that 21% of all households contained someone
with a health problem. 8% of all households contained a member who experienced walking
or mobility difficulties, 3% contained a member who suffered from diabetes and 2%
contained a member who experienced mental health problems. A total of 2,424
households were interviewed. Results should be accurate to within +/2.0% points at the
95% level of confidence. The Housing Needs Study can be viewed at:

http://www.mkweb.co.uk/housing-needs/home.asp

Links between poor health and the private sector

The links between poor health and the private sector centre around Decent Homes. The
EHCS 2001 made the point that vulnerable people, such as the elderly and young
children, and people with illness or disability may have a higher health and safety risk
associated with living in homes that are not decent.” The EHCS 2004 noted that housing
conditions for vulnerable households in the Private Sector are worse than for other Private
Sector households. 34% (1 million) of vulnerable households live in non-decent
households compared to 27% for other private sector households. Despite this housing
conditions for vulnerable households have been improving at a faster rate.




                                                                                        12
Black and Minority Ethnic Communities

The Census information on ethnicity in Milton Keynes Borough suggested that around
13.2% of the population is from a black and minority ethnic (BME) group.

Table 2: BME Communities in Milton Keynes (Census 2001)
 Classification                        Persons           %
 White               British                   179,694 86.8
                     Irish                       2,918  1.4
                     Other White                 5,240  2.5

Mixed Ethnicity                                       3,716    1.8

Asian or Asian British
                         Indian                       3,967    1.9
                         Pakistani                    1,682    0.8
                         Bangladeshi                  1,072    0.5
                         Other Asian                    850    0.4
Black or Black British
                         Caribbean                    1,956    0.9
                         African                      2,596    1.3
                         Other Black                    434    0.2
Chinese or other
                         Chinese                      1,835    0.9
                         Other                        1,097    0.5

Total                                               207,057    100

Just over 9% of the BME population classified themselves as being non-white.

Table 3: Analysis of non-white population
Ethnic Origin       MK %      National %
White                    90.7        90.9
Mixed Ethnicity           1.8          1.4
Asian/Asian British       3.7          4.6
Black/Black British       2.4          2.3
Chinese or other          1.4          0.9

However, Table 4 below shows that when the results are considered by tenure, they
suggest (as the numbers are small) that some groups are under-represented in some
tenures and over-represented in others. For example, the Census shows that the White
Ethnic Group comprises 90.72% of the population of Milton Keynes, yet people from this
group comprise 93.02% of the Council‟s rented stock.




                                                                                   13
Table 4: Tenure analysis
 Ethnic Origin               MK          Council   Owners
                             Population rent
 Total White                       90.72     93.02   91.5
 Total Mixed Ethnicity              1.79      1.96   1.54
 Total Asian/Asian British          3.66      2.57   3.83
 Total Black/Black British           2.4      2.13   1.73
 Total Chinese or Other             1.42      0.32   1.41

As the Census data is a snapshot of the population at 2001, the Pupil Level Annual School
Census (PLASC) is a more up to date indication of the current BME population. The
PLASC is carried out annually and records information about ethnic origin of pupils in
schools. The data for January 2006 showed that the BME population is likely to have
increased, as the BME groups represent about 22.9% of pupils in Milton Keynes. This
compares with the 2005 PLASC findings of 20.7% and 2004 findings of 19% of the pupil
population in Milton Keynes were from BME groups. It shows that the Black African group
is the largest ethnic minority group, accounting for 4.8% of pupils. The Mixed Group (4.3%)
is the second largest ethnic minority group, followed by the White Other group (3.4%).
For more details see our BME Housing & Social Care Strategy by clicking on the link
below.

http://www.mkweb.co.uk/housing-needs/home.asp

Rural Housing

The Rural Area takes up two-thirds of the Borough's area. It consists of around 30
settlements ranging from small towns such as Olney with around 2,600 homes and 5,000
people, to small villages such as Chicheley with around 50 homes and 130 people.
Broadly speaking most people in the Rural Area are owner-occupiers (for example, in the
market town of Olney owner-occupation is at 92% and in Woburn Sands, 91%).




                                                                                        14
Table xx below sets out an analysis of tenure in both the City and the Rural Area. It is
noticeable that in the City, around 28% of the total dwellings fall into an “affordable”
housing category. However, in the Rural Area, just fewer than 10% are affordable and
most of this in turn was rented housing owned by the Council.

Table 5: Analysis of Tenure (City and Rural Area)
                                          (i)   City                         (ii)   Rural
                                                Area                                Area
                            No. Dwellings       %            No. Dwellings           %
Total Owner Occ.                 61,568             72.28%            8,137          90.78%
Total RSL Rent                    6,777              7.96%              126           1.41%
Total     RSL    Shared
Ownership                          3,858            4.53%                    62       0.69%
Total RSL Reduced Cost
Sale                                156              0.18%                 0              0
Total MKC Rented                 11,145             13.08%               638          7.12%
Total     MKC    Shared
Ownership                         1,673            1.96%                  0           0.00%
Total                            85,177          100.00%              8,963         100.00%

The Housing Needs Study 2006

Opinion Research Services carried out a new Housing Needs Study in January 2006. It
showed that around 4,200 new homes need to be built in Milton Keynes each year and
that around 1,100 of them need to be affordable.

Homelessness

Over the last five years, the number of homeless applications made declined from 1,772
applications in 2001/02 501 in 2005/06. At the end of March 2006 there were 872
households in temporary accommodation (a decrease from the 1,303 households at the
end of March 2002). The majority of these households were in the Council‟s own housing
stock, and no-one is in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than 6 weeks. Most of
the households in the Council‟s accommodation are in a property that is suitable for the
size of the household.




                                                                                            15
               Section 3: The Housing Market in Milton Keynes


Dwelling stock

In Milton Keynes there were around 94,140 dwellings as at 31 st March 2006. The Private
Sector (excluding properties owned by Registered Social Landlords) accounts for just over
80% of this figure. Around 43% of the overall housing stock is in the lowest two Council
Tax bands (A and B). A further 27% is in band C with 12% in band D.

Housing Needs Study 2006

The Study showed that:

   Just over 62% of all properties across the Borough are owned outright or owned with a
    mortgage, with a further 6% part owned through shared ownership. Around a fifth of the
    stock is rented from social landlords with 12% in the private rented sector;
   The Private Rented Sector in Milton Keynes has increased from 8% of the total stock in
    1999 to around 12% (an increase of 50%). By contrast, the proportion of social rented
    property has reduced (from 23.0% to 19.9%);
   Existing social rents for both LA stock and in the RSL sector tend to be around the
    target rent set by the Housing Corporation. Nevertheless, even the cheapest properties
    in the private sector typically cost at least double;
   Since 1999, the proportion of property owned outright in the borough has steadily
    increased (from 16.0% to 19.8%) whilst the proportion of households who own with a
    mortgage has reduced (from 47.0% to 41.8%);
   From the beginning of 1999 to the first quarter of 2006 the average property price in
    Milton Keynes rose by 136%. Most of this rise occurred before mid 2004. In the second
    quarter of 2000, 50% of all completed property sales were priced at less than £80,000.
    This figure was below 10% of all sales in 2005. Conversely, the number of houses
    selling for over £150,000 has risen from around 15% of all completions to over 50% of
    the total;
   82% of Private Rented Sector tenants were satisfied with their home (compared to 74%
    of tenants who rented their home from the Council).

The chart below shows that the Private Rented Sector is nearly as large as the Council
rented sector.




                                                                                       16
Chart 1: Tenure analysis (Housing Needs Study 2006)




Age of the Housing Stock

Nationally, the English House Condition Survey shows that pre 1919 dwellings comprise a
third of all non-decent homes. They are also more expensive to deal with than newer
dwellings because they are more likely to fail on the more expensive components. These
dwellings have improved far less than those built in the period 1919–1965. By contrast,
Chart 2 below (taken from the Housing Needs Study 2006) shows that the majority of the
dwellings (74%) were built after 1965. Around 7% of the stock was built before 1919,
which compares favourably with the national average of 21%.

Chart 2: Age of the Housing Stock




                                                                                    17
       Section 4: Private Sector Housing Conditions in Milton Keynes


Stock Condition Survey 1999-2000

Our last Private Sector Stock Condition Survey was carried out between winter 1999 and
spring 2000. This formed part of a combined Stock Condition Survey of both the Council‟s
Housing Stock and the Private Sector. We were particularly interested in testing historical
estimates that the number of unfit homes in Milton Keynes was around 2,400.

Unfortunately the Private Sector Stock Condition Survey proved to be a more difficult task
than was first anticipated. We encountered a combined non response, refusals rate and
non co–operation rate of over 70%. A number of reasons contributed to the difficulty of
gaining entry, the main factors included:

      Homeowners were hesitant regards permitting Council staff entering their property.
      The homeowners were doubtful of the benefits to themselves arising from the
       survey.
      A high proportion of homeowners were not prepared to take time off work to attend
       with the surveyor.

Due to these difficulties two different surveys were completed:

      500 surveys both internally and externally of which 332 were actually completed
      1000 surveys externally (what surveyor could see from the street) of which 914
       were actually completed).

The poor response rate from the private sector made it hard for the Council to obtain
robust results. Nevertheless our estimates from these completed surveys were that:

      In general, homes were in a good condition with a good level of fitness.
      The net cost of repair works was estimated at just over £52m (an average £744 per
       home)
      The number of unfit houses in the Councils area was 386, of which 220 were in the
       Private Sector

Stock Condition Survey 2004

The Council was keen to improve up these estimates and subsequently commissioned a
new Private Sector Stock Condition Survey in 2004. Unfortunately, although the surveying
work was carried out the contractor failed to provide the analysis of the results. Legal
action is on-going to remedy this.

Milton Keynes Stock Condition Modeling 2006 - Background

In view of the problems and expense incurred previously we decided to consider
alternative ways of assessing the condition of the Private Sector. The Council became
aware of a project set up by six London Borough Council‟s (Barnet, Camden, Enfield,
Haringey, Islington and Westminster) which had commissioned the Building Research
Establishment (BRE) to model the condition of the Private Sector. The modelling exercise
was based on the findings of the Census 2001 and the English House Condition Survey.

                                                                                        18
In October 2006 we commissioned BRE to carry out similar work. This was completed in
December 2006.

The main objective of the project was to provide estimates of local private sector housing
conditions at the level of the authority, statistical ward and census output area. The
estimates are based on models developed by BRE, which combine local and national data
to produce estimates of conditions that would not otherwise be available at the local level.

A second objective was to use the projections to design a sample for any private sector
house condition survey that the authority may be considering undertaking.

Before the development of the BRE Housing Stock Models, the main method of estimating
the numbers and determining the location of private sector dwellings in poor condition has
been to undertake a private sector house condition survey. Private sector house condition
surveys are usually carried out on a sample basis with information typically being gathered
on around 1000 dwellings. It is normal practice to report on sub-areas with a minimum
sample of 250-300 dwellings, as below this sampling error makes comparisons less
reliable. This means that such surveys are only able to report on three or four sub-areas,
which is of little value for accurate targeting of improvement measures.

The BRE Housing Stock Projections are a response to a need for private sector housing
information by local authorities attempting to deliver their part of the Government‟s policy
to provide everyone with the opportunity of a decent home they can afford. This policy is
now set out in the document “Sustainable Communities: Homes for All” and is part of a
five year plan culminating in 2010. While this document was published in 2005 the key
target for local authorities in relation to private sector housing dates back to the 2002
Government Spending Review.

Nationally, the main method of assessing progress towards meeting Government targets
on reaching the Decent Homes standard is through the English House Condition Survey
(EHCS). Since 2001 this has been a continuous survey of housing conditions undertaken
by the DCLG. Results are now provided on a yearly basis by combining data from two
survey years.




                                                                                         19
Findings from the BRE Stock Condition Modeling 2006

The main findings were as follows:

      We are likely to have already met key Government target PSA7 (which requires
       70% of vulnerable occupiers to be living in decent homes by 2010);

      There are 13,326 non-decent private sector homes in Milton Keynes. This is 19% of
       the total private sector stock in Milton Keynes and compares very favourably to the
       figure of 37% for England. The total cost of making the estimated 13,326 non
       decent homes decent is estimated to be £146.5 million (an average of £10,993 per
       property). In most cases these costs are not expected to be borne by the authority.

      The BRE model estimates that 2,809 vulnerable households are living in non-
       decent homes in the private sector. This equates to just 4% of the total private
       sector stock. This estimate is slightly higher than the estimate in Government‟s
       Ready Reckoner model of 2,289 households;

      Assistance may be required in some of the estimated 2,809 non decent homes
       occupied by vulnerable groups although most of these should be entitled to
       government funded schemes such as Warm Front. The estimated total for these
       dwellings is £30.9 million (an average of £11,000 per dwelling);

      Around 3,794 dwellings are predicted to have a Category 1 Hazard under the new
       Housing Health and Safety Rating System. This accounts for 6% of the stock
       compared to the 2% which would have been expected to fail the Housing Fitness
       Standard (which the Rating System replaces). The authority has a duty to consider
       taking action in dwellings where a Category 1 Hazard is discovered. This is likely to
       increase the demand for private sector housing enforcement action in the private
       rented sector

      Non-decent homes are disproportionately situated in the Rural Area (i.e. outside the
       Designated Area of the City and excluding Newport Pagnell). For example, in the
       Danesborough Ward, the percentage of non-decent homes was 34% compared to
       19% for the whole Borough. Given that pre-1919 properties make up nearly 28% of
       housing stock in the Rural Area this is probably not surprising (given the link shown
       by the English House Condition Survey and the pre-1919 stock).

A copy of the full report can be viewed by clicking on the link below

http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/housing-needs/home.asp




                                                                                         20
Housing Needs Study 2006

This Study was carried out by Opinion Research Services Limited. As part of the Study
households were asked a number of questions about their perception of the condition of
their properties. Whilst it cannot therefore be as accurate as the findings of qualified
surveyors, it does give a useful picture of stock condition in the private sector alongside
the findings of the BRE work.

The Study showed that:

   10% of all households reported that they had a serious problem with their home;
   A further 5% reported that they had a minor problem
   85% of households reported that they did not have a problem

Table 6 below taken from the Study analyses the problems reported.

Table 6: Specific problems with home: All Households




                                                                                        21
The Study also contained a profile of households living in the Private Rented Sector. This
is shown below in Table 7. The Study showed that 12% of private rented households had
a serious problem with their home. This is slightly higher than the figure for all households
(where 10% of households had a serious problem). It is however significantly lower than
the 31% of households renting their home from the Council.

Table 7: Specific problems with home: Private Rented Households




                                                                                          22
            Section 5: Housing Health and Safety Rating (HHSRS)


Background to the Housing Health and Safety Rating (HHSRS)

Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 replaces the housing fitness standard set out in the
Housing Act 1985 by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) as the basis
for local authority intervention to tackle unacceptable housing conditions. HHSRS will also
replace the fitness standard as an element of the (non-statutory) decent home standard.

The HHSRS risk assessment methodology is prescribed by The Housing Health and
Safety Rating System (England) Regulations 2005. Local Housing Authority officers will
also have regard to technical and enforcement guidance under section 9 of the Housing
Act 2004. The principle behind the HHSRS is that a dwelling should provide a safe and
healthy environment for the occupants and any potential occupiers. This is to be achieved
over time by refocusing the basis for local housing authority intervention on the severity of
health and safety hazards in the home, assessed under HHSRS. The 29 hazards that can
be assessed under HHSRS will replace the current fitness criteria under section 604 of the
1985 Act. It is generally accepted that, in practice, the fitness criteria bears no clear
relationship to the hazards in a property.

The HHSRS is based on a logical evaluation of:

   The likelihood of an occurrence that could cause harm, and
   The probable severity of the outcomes of such an occurrence.

It relies on the informed professional judgments of this evaluation to provide a way to show
the severity of any dangers present in a dwelling.

The Rating System deals with the assessment of hazards (the potential effect of
conditions). While it can be used to judge the effectiveness of remedial action, it cannot
determine or suggest that action – that is a matter for judgment depending on the
particular circumstances, including the design and construction of the dwelling.

The assessment is made based on the condition of the whole dwelling. This means that,
before such an assessment can be made, a thorough survey of the dwelling must be
carried out to collect the evidence of the condition. While this does not involve a new
approach to inspecting or surveying dwellings, it does require an understanding and
appreciation of the potential effects that could result from conditions and deficiencies,
which should have been identified during the survey.

The HHSRS concentrates on threats to health and safety. It is generally not concerned
with matters of quality, comfort and convenience. However, in some cases, such matters
could also have an impact on a person‟s physical or mental health or safety and so can be
considered. Also, as the Rating System is about the assessment of hazards (the potential
effect of conditions), the form of construction and the type and age of the dwelling do not
directly affect an assessment. Nevertheless these matters will be relevant to determining
the cause of any problem and so indicate the nature of any remedial action.




                                                                                          23
The key principle of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is that the
dwelling, including the outbuildings and garden, should provide a safe and healthy
environment for the occupants and any visitors. The system applies to all dwellings
including houses, self-contained flats, non self-contained flats, and bedsits.

The dwelling is inspected using a risk based assessment process and considers the effect
of any „hazards‟ in the property. Hazards are then rated according to how serious they are
and the effect they are having, or could have, on the occupants. The system also provides
a means of comparing the risks associated with different types of hazard. Some are slow
in their effect, like dampness and cold, whilst others are quick, such as falls. Some
hazards are more likely to result in death (such as carbon monoxide); others are very
unlikely to cause death e.g. noise.

It must be remembered that all dwellings contain hazards and it is not possible to remove
all of these. The emphasis is to minimise the risk to health and safety as far as possible
either by removing the hazard altogether or minimising the effect, as appropriate.

The 29 Hazards

The HHSRS deals with the following 29 hazards:

Physiological Requirements

      Damp and mould growth
      Excess cold
      Excess heat
      Asbestos
      Biocides
      Carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products
      Lead
      Radiation
      Uncombusted fuel gas
      Volatile Organic Carbons

Psychological Requirements

      Crowding and space
      Entry by intruders
      Lighting
      Noise

Protection Against Infection

      Domestic hygiene, Pests and Refuse
      Food safety
      Personal hygiene, Sanitation and Drainage
      Water supply




                                                                                       24
Protection Against Accidents

      Falls associated with baths, etc
      Falls on level surfaces, etc
      Falling on stairs etc
      Falling between levels
      Electrical hazards
      Fire
      Flames, hot surfaces etc
      Collision and entrapment
      Explosions
      Position and operability of amenities etc
      Structural collapse and failing elements

The Assessment Process

The Assessment Process is not just a question of spotting defects in the dwellings, but is
about risk assessment, outcomes and effects.

When an inspector identifies a hazard, two key tests are applied:

      What is the likelihood of a dangerous occurrence as a result of this hazard; and
      If there is an occurrence, what would be the likely outcome?

The hazards are assessed according to their likely impact on people designated as the
most vulnerable group, such as children and the elderly, not necessarily against the
current occupiers of the dwelling. The action that needs to be taken to deal with a hazard
will be influenced by who is occupying the property.

An inspector judges the likelihood of an occurrence (such as an accident) over the next 12
months which could result in harm to a member of the vulnerable age group. An accident
in which an occupant could fall down the stairs is classified as an occurrence.

After judging the likelihood of an occurrence, the inspector makes a second judgement,
that of the possible harm which could result from such an occurrence. There are a range of
four harm outcomes, which are shown below together with some examples:

CLASS 1 (Extreme):

      Death from any cause
      80% burn injuries

CLASS 2 (Severe):

      Serious fractures
      Severe burns




                                                                                          25
CLASS 3 (Serious)

      Chronic severe stress
      Fractured skull and severe concussion

CLASS 4 (Moderate):

      Mild pneumonia
      Regular serious coughs and colds

The above assessment allows for each hazard identified to be awarded a hazard score:

Hazard Score = the likelihood of an occurrence X severity of likely harms caused.

The hazard scores are divided into ten bands (A to J); band A is the most serious and J
the least serious. Hazards which fall into bands A to C are Category 1 hazards with those
in bands D to J are Category 2 hazards.

In simple terms, the greater the risk (likelihood), or more serious the outcome, the higher
the hazard score. An example of a high score would be a gas water heater leaking carbon
monoxide – the likelihood is high and the outcome could be death.

Enforcement

The Council is obliged to deal with poor housing conditions in their area. The hazard score
does not dictate the action to be taken, but the council will focus their attention on the
category 1 hazards and the more serious category 2 hazards.

The aim of intervention is to make the dwelling safer for occupation by the mitigation or
removal of hazards. The choice of enforcement tool will therefore be a judgement as to
whether hazards can be reduced or removed entirely, how they might be removed or
reduced and, if they cannot, what other action is necessary. In making this judgement the
council will take account of the vulnerability of the current occupants.

The courses of action available to the council are to:

      Serve an Improvement Notice, requiring remedial action to remedy or mitigate a
       hazard within a set time period.
      Make a Prohibition Order, prohibiting the use of the premises, or any part of it, for
       any purpose, except one approved by the Council.
      Serve a Hazard Awareness Notice, which advises the owner of the hazard
       concerned and the appropriate action to deal with it. It is purely advisory and there
       is no follow up action.
      Make a Demolition Order
      Take Emergency action where a category 1 hazard is so serious as to represent an
       imminent risk of serious harm

For more details see the HHSRS Guidance Circular 2004 by clicking on the following link:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/pub/844/HousingAct2004EnforcementGuidancePart1Hous
ingConditionsPDF403Kb_id1161844.pdf

                                                                                         26
Building Research Establishment (BRE) Modeling Exercise

In October-November 2006 the BRE provided estimates of private sector housing
conditions in the Borough. The analysis was at ward and census output area using
models developed by BRE which combine national data from the English House Condition
Survey 2001 with local census data. The information was provided in tabular form at ward
and authority level and the smaller census output areas were mapped. This provides a
level of detail that has never before been available.

Before the development of the BRE Housing Stock Models, the main method of estimating
the numbers and determining the location of private sector dwellings in poor condition has
been to undertake a private sector house condition survey. Private sector house condition
surveys are usually carried out on a sample basis with information typically being gathered
on around 1000 dwellings. It is normal practice to report on sub-areas with a minimum
sample of 250-300 dwellings, as below this sampling error makes comparisons less
reliable. This means that such surveys are only able to report on three or four sub-areas,
which is of little value for accurate targeting of improvement measures.

The Council was interested in an alternative approach that could provide information on
key housing indicators at authority, ward and census output area level. The alternative
approach was to use the BRE Housing Stock Models to provide projections of key
indicators at these levels.

Local authorities vary in the use to which they wish to put the stock model data, depending
on the stage of their house condition survey cycle. As it is some years since a
comprehensive private sector house condition survey was undertaken, we requested
advice on how the models might be used to assist in the design of a sample for any future
survey.

While the above gives an outline of what the stock models provide, it does not explain how
they work and where they can fit in with the gathering of local authority data on housing
conditions, or the strategic context within which this takes place.

At the local level authorities are expected to identify the level of non decent homes
occupied by vulnerable households within their areas and, within the level of resources
available, to produce a robust and consistent policy response to the problem. The
response is expected to be sufficient to ensure at the national level targets for the private
sector are being achieved. The manner in which this is achieved is a matter for discussion
with the Government Office for the region, in relation to policy priorities set out in the
Regional Housing Strategy and the local authority Housing Strategy.

To establish a baseline the DCLG makes it clear in its June 2006 update that it expects
authorities to undertake a stock condition survey. However they also expect authorities to
go beyond this, as stock condition information alone is considered insufficient as a basis
for developing policy.

A key objective of the BRE Modelling was to use the projections to design a sample for
any private sector house condition survey we may consider.




                                                                                          27
               Section 6: Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMO‟s)


Introduction

The situation around HMO‟s has been and remains complex. The Housing Act 2004
provides for a new definition of HMO, and limits the scope of licensing and the associated
enforcement action (but not enforcement action taken under Part 1 in association with the
Housing, Health and Safety Rating System) to certain types of HMOs within that definition.
More details can be found in the Government‟s Publication „Licensing in the Private
Rented Sector: Consultation on the Implementation of HMO Licensing Regulatory Impact
Assessment Housing Bill Part 2 HMO Licensing‟ ODPM Feb 2005.

Governments‟ view on the role of HMO‟s

HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, often fall at the bottom end of the private
rented sector market. They provide affordable housing options for some of the most
vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society, including benefit claimants or those on
low incomes, students and asylum seekers. In 2001 nearly a quarter (24%) of all private
tenancies paying rent were receiving Housing Benefit. For many of these individuals
HMOs represent the only housing option available. The Government therefore recognise
the vital importance of this sector in providing housing for these groups and in particular to
meet the growing demand for student accommodation. It wants to see this sector continue
to play its valuable role, particularly in offering housing to those who might otherwise be
homeless. It recognises that most HMO landlords are good and responsible and that most
are concerned for the welfare of their tenants. However, it wants to ensure that vulnerable
tenants do not suffer unacceptable housing conditions. Its first step is to replace the
Housing Fitness Standard with the evidence-based Housing Health and Safety Rating
system (HHSRS) as a more effective basis for enforcement where such conditions are
found (not just in HMOs).

The Government takes the view that management standards in some HMOs are poor.
Challenges in the management of HMOs are generally greater than in other privately
rented homes. Landlords must often deal with a rapid turnover of tenants and handle the
many difficulties and risks associated with shared facilities. Some struggle to cope and a
minority take little or no responsibility for problems which arise in their properties, to the
detriment of tenants and sometimes the wider community. Some tenants also behave in a
manner that is unacceptable to other tenants or local people.

Definition of HMO

“House in Multiple Occupation” means a building, or part of a building (e.g. a flat):

   Which is occupied by more than one household and in which more than one household
    shares an amenity (or the building lacks an amenity) such as a bathroom, toilet or
    cooking facilities; or,
   Which is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building
    which does not entirely comprise self contained flats (whether or not there is also a
    sharing or lack of amenities); or
   Which comprises entirely of converted self contained flats and the standard of
    conversion does not meet, at a minimum, that required by the 1991 Building
    Regulations and more than one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

                                                                                           28
To be categorised as an HMO a property must also be “occupied” by more than one
household:

   As their only or main residence; or,
   As a refuge by persons escaping domestic violence; or,
   By students undertaking a full-time course of further or higher education; or,
   For some other purpose that is prescribed in regulations.

In addition, the households are defined as comprising:

   Families (including single persons and co-habiting couples (whether or not of the
    opposite sex); or,
   Any other relationship that may be prescribed by regulations, such as domestic staff or
    fostering or carer arrangements.

“Non-standard” HMOs

Many HMOs subject to this legislation will be fairly “traditional” – characterised by a
number of households who are privately renting and who share, or lack, at least one basic
amenity, for example, the typical bedsit type of property often associated with HMOs. In
these cases it is relatively clear who and what is to be licensed. However, there has been
some confusion about how more non standard HMO accommodation will be treated under
the provisions contained in the Housing Act 2004. The following few paragraphs therefore
explain how some of the more common types of these HMOs will be treated.

Quite commonly, there may be a mixture of self-contained and non self-contained
accommodation within a building. In these instances, as long as part of the building is non
self-contained the building as a whole is classed as an HMO. Of course, this does not
necessarily mean that it would be subject to licensing, as it would obviously have to fall
within mandatory licensing or the scope of any additional licensing scheme operated by
the local authority. When determining whether this is the case, the number of occupants in
the self-contained unit counts towards the number of occupants of the HMO as a whole.
The local authority will also have regard to the number of households occupying the self-
contained flats as well as the number of households occupying non self-contained
accommodation. Similarly, the self-contained accommodation also counts towards
calculating the number of stories of the HMO. This is the case even where the self-
contained unit takes up the entire storey. Additionally, the location of the unit within the
building is irrelevant – a self-contained flat on the top floor of a three-storey building would
be included for the purposes of calculating whether it was subject to mandatory licensing.
Neither does the fact that part of the building is occupied by a resident landlord or
manager affect the property‟s status as an HMO, except where the resident landlord and
his “household” live in a property that is exempted because less than a specified number
of people also occupy that property.




                                                                                             29
Poorly-converted blocks of flats

Generally, people would consider an HMO to be one where there is some sharing, or lack
of, basic amenities for the use of the people occupying the property. However, for the
purposes of the Act, an HMO is also defined as a poorly converted block of flats where a
significant proportion of those flats are not occupied by long leaseholders. Therefore,
where such a building conversion does not meet, at least, the standards laid down in the
Building Regulations 1991 and in which less than two thirds of the flats are owner-
occupied the building is classified as an HMO. The reason that the Government has taken
this approach is as follows:

“This type of property is often characterised by the sorts of problems associated with more
“traditional” HMOs. The physical condition of such properties can be poor and, linked to
poor management and maintenance, leaves tenants facing similar problems to those
encountered by other types of HMO. In the same way, these tenants also lack the power
of owner-occupiers in a similar position to do something about their circumstances.
Although many problems may well be a direct result of the absence of the “landlord”
leaseholder, many blocks which the legislation is aimed at are owned by single individuals
or companies, were converted many years ago and occupied by elderly or other
vulnerable people. It is often these blocks which are a cause for concern for the health and
safety of the occupiers.

However, we recognise that there are potentially greater practical difficulties in licensing
this type of property. Additionally, we believe that the scale of the problems in this type of
property will not be uniform between local authorities and that there will be a substantial
number of this type of HMO in some areas. It is for this reason that we propose that
poorly-converted blocks will not fall within the scope of the mandatory licensing regime.
Rather, local authorities will be able to use the power provided in the Bill to introduce an
additional licensing scheme to cover this category of property in the same way they can
with other types of HMO that fall outside the scope of mandatory licensing but give rise to
problems. The same requirements in terms of assessment, consultation, etc. will, of
course, apply before a designation can come into force (see paragraphs 39 to 50 for
further detail on the process involved).”

Exemptions from HMO definition

The Act provides that certain types of buildings will not be HMOs for the purpose of the
Act, other than for Part one (HHSRS) and are, therefore, not subject to licensing. These
include buildings:

   Managed or owned by a public body (such as the police or the NHS) or a Local
    Housing Authority (LHA i.e. Milton Keynes Council) or a Registered Social Landlord;
   Where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building
    e.g. religious establishments, conference centres etc.;
   Entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders and their households;
   Occupied by no more than two households each of which comprise a single person
    (i.e. two person flat shares).

The Act also provides for secondary legislation to be made to exempt further groups of
properties as follows:



                                                                                             30
   Buildings owned or managed by educational establishments and occupied principally
    by full-time students (most commonly these will be halls of residence) may be specified
    as exempt by order;
   Buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes, bail hostels
    etc., where descriptions of uses to be exempt can be specified in regulations;
   Buildings occupied by long leaseholders and their households with additional residents
    (lodgers) where the number of such additional people can be specified in regulations.

HMO Declarations

In some cases there may be a mixture of uses where a building, or part of a building, is
partly occupied by persons as their only or main residence, but is also partly occupied
otherwise than as a residence e.g. a Bed & Breakfast establishment providing
accommodation for both homeless people or asylum seekers and for holidaymakers. In
such cases the Local Housing Authority (LHA) may declare the building an HMO if it is
satisfied that the occupation by persons as their only or main residence is a significant use
of the building, or part of the building.

If an owner or manager does not agree that the building should be subject to an HMO
Declaration he/she can appeal against the LHA decision to an RPT. On appeal the tribunal
must either confirm the declaration or revoke it.

The LHA may revoke a declaration in force, either on its own volition, or upon the
application of the owner or manager, if it is satisfied the building is no longer used
significantly by persons as their only or main residence. If the LHA refuses to revoke the
declaration the applicant can appeal to the RPT, which can either uphold that decision or
revoke the declaration.

Additional Licensing

Authorities may feel that there are problem HMOs in their area which do not meet the
criteria proposed for mandatory licensing. The Bill therefore provides that, where
authorities feel that licensing should be applied to other HMOs in their area, they will be
able to introduce an additional licensing scheme which will apply licensing to other
specified types of HMO in particular areas. A scheme for additional licensing will normally
be in force for a maximum period of five years and LHAs are required to keep them under
review during that period.

An authority will be able to designate part or all of their area as subject to additional
licensing, for specified types of HMOs. For example, an additional licensing scheme could
cover two storey, four person houses in a particular neighbourhood. Alternatively it could
include all HMOs in the area. Such designations will, however, be subject to certain
restrictions.

Conditions for obtaining a Licence

A person owning or managing an HMO which is required to be licensed must apply to the
Local Housing Authority (LHA) for a licence for that property unless a Temporary
Exemption Notice has been applied for or is in force. The Secretary of State may make
regulations concerning licence applications.

The LHA must grant a licence if it is satisfied that:

                                                                                          31
   The HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of persons permitted
    under the licence;
   The licence holder is a fit and proper person;
   The proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence;
   The proposed manager, if not the licence holder, is fit and proper; and
   The proposed management arrangements are satisfactory; including that
   The person involved in the management of the house is competent and the
   Structures and funding for the management are suitable.

In considering whether the HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of
persons permitted under the licence the authority must have regard to any minimum
prescribed standards of amenities and facilities. The Government is considering whether
minimum national amenity standards are required in relation to matters such as the
number, type and quality of shared bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities. Authorities will
take their own view on space standards, but a Government review of overcrowding is
underway and a consultation exercise will be carried out shortly.

In deciding whether a licence holder or agent is fit and proper, the LHA must have regard,
amongst other matters, to:

   Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs or fraud; and
   Whether the proposed licence holder has contravened any laws relating to housing or
    landlord & tenant issues; and
   Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination practices;

Mandatory Licensing

The Council has a statutory duty under the Housing Act 2004 to apply mandatory licensing
to HMOs with 3 or more storeys and 5 or more residents who constitute more than
one household (other than where the building comprises self contained blocks or certain
exempted categories). This duty replaces previous schemes, including the Council‟s
existing HMO registration scheme (which was a simple notification scheme). The
Government introduced this duty because:

   Physical conditions in some of these HMOs are very poor
   There is a significantly increased risk of dying or being injured in a fire in such
    properties. The fatality rate in HMOs of three or more storeys is around four times
    higher than that for one or two storey HMOs
   A range of health, safety and general welfare problems for residents can arise where
    structural conditions are unsuitable for the number of persons accommodated, or
    where conversion has been poorly undertaken
   There are often problems of management in such HMOs, especially where facilities are
    shared
   Tenants in these HMOs are often vulnerable and may not have access to other
    housing options.

Derelict Land and Buildings

Section 215 (s215) of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (the Act) provides a local
planning authority (LPA) with the power, in certain circumstances, to take steps requiring
land to be cleaned up when its condition adversely affects the amenity of the area. If it
appears that the amenity of part of their area is being adversely affected by the condition

                                                                                           32
of neighbouring land and buildings, they may serve a notice on the owner requiring that
the situation be remedied. These notices set out the steps that need to be taken, and the
time within which they must be carried out. LPAs also have powers under s219 to
undertake the clean up works themselves and to recover the costs from the landowner.

The use of s215 by LPAs is discretionary and it is therefore up to the LPA to decide
whether a notice under these provisions would be appropriate in a particular case, taking
into account all the local circumstances. LPAs will need to consider, for example, the
condition of the site, the impact on the surrounding area and the scope of their powers. In
some circumstances s215 notices may be used in conjunction with other powers, for
example, repair notices in respect of listed buildings or dangerous structure notices.

Future HMO action in Milton Keynes

The new provisions of the Housing Act 2004 will require us to be more pro-active in
registering and inspecting HMOs. Given the Government‟s view on the role that HMOs
play in meeting the housing needs of vulnerable members of society, and the statutory
requirement on the Council to issue licenses, the Council cannot simply introduce a
blanket policy to try and prevent HMOs from occurring. However, given the Government‟s
view on the poor management of some HMOs (an experience that seems to be shared in
some circumstances by local people in some areas) our HMO activities will need to focus
on registration, inspection of properties and the enforcement of standards.

Enforcement Policy

In December 2006 the Council approved a Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy.
Each case is unique and must be considered on its own merits. There are however,
general principles that apply in the way each case must be approached. These are laid out
in this policy, and in the Government‟s Enforcement Concordat which the Council became
a signatory to on the 1 November 2000. The Council is committed to adhering to the
principles contained in it as follows:

      Clear service standards
      Openness
      Helpfulness
      Arrangements for dealing with complaints about the service.
      Proportionality in actions.
      Consistency in actions.

Private Sector Housing Division staff must be fair, independent and objective. They must
not let any personal views about issues such as ethnicity, nationality, gender, religious
beliefs, political views or the sexual orientation of the suspect, victim; witness, or offender
influence their decisions. They must not be affected by improper or undue pressure from
any source.

The Private Sector Housing Division of the Housing Directorate will apply this policy so
that it can make decisions about enforcement actions that are in accordance with the
principles of; proportionality in the application of the law and in securing compliance;
consistency of approach, transparency about how the Private Sector Housing Division
and the Council operates and what those regulated may expect from us, and targeting of
enforcement action.


                                                                                            33
Proportionality
In general, the concept of proportionality is included in our regulatory system through
balancing the actions taken, against the risks to the community, and cost of doing so, and
the seriousness of any breach of the law.

Consistency
Consistency means taking a similar approach in similar circumstances to achieve similar
ends. We aim to achieve consistency in advice given, our responses, and the use of this
policy on whether enforcement action is appropriate. However we recognise that
consistency does not mean simple uniformity, officers need to take account of many
variable factors. Decisions on enforcement are a matter of professional judgement, and
discretion may have to be exercised. We will continue to develop arrangements to promote
consistency including arrangements for liaison with other enforcing authorities.

Transparency
Transparency is important in maintaining confidence in the Private Sector Housing
Divisions ability to regulate. It means helping those that are being regulated and others to
understand what is expected of them; and what they should expect from us. It also means
making it clear why an officer intends to, or has taken enforcement action.

Targeting
Targeting means ensuring that our efforts are directed primarily towards those whose
activities present the greatest risk within the professional disciplines of the Private Sector
Housing Division. Action will be focused on the lawbreakers, or those directly responsible
for the risk, and are best placed to control it. We will ensure the prioritisation of
enforcement effort; including our response to service requests etc, the assessment of the
risk to the community of Milton Keynes and beyond; and the gathering of evidence or
intelligence regarding illegal activities.

The actions of management are important, be it the board of directors or a sole proprietor
of the business. Repeated breaches of the law may be related to genuine ignorance or
misunderstanding of the situation, or an indication of unwillingness to change, behaviour,
controls, or actions. We will continue to develop models and tools to assist us in assessing
the risks and comparing them with benchmarks.

Our investigations will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of:
• The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
• The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
• The Human Rights Act 1998
• Criminal Procedure Investigations Act 1996
• Other relevant provisions in force at the time of the investigation.




                                                                                           34
                                    Section 7: Grants


Many vulnerable households live in accommodation that is either of poor quality or does
not meet their basic needs, reducing their quality of life and adversely impacting upon their
health. The Private Sector Housing Unit aims to improve the condition of low quality
private housing, particularly with the aim of supporting vulnerable households and
ensuring that people can remain in their home as long as possible.

Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG‟s) & Adaptations

DFGs are mandatory grants available for eligible disabled people (regardless of their
tenure). The grants go towards a range of housing adaptations that are needed to ensure
that a disabled occupant can remain living an independent life at home. The funding can
help provide items such as ramps, stair lifts, level access showers and home extensions if
extra living accommodation is required. The maximum grant is £25,000. The Government
states that nationally the Disabled Facilities Grant system has made a valuable
contribution to helping disabled people with the cost of adapting their homes, and that it is
a considerable improvement on previous arrangements. The system is particularly
important role because of the Government's policies for Care in the Community & the Adult
Social Care Green Paper. In Milton Keynes we expect RSLs to plan for DFG expenditure
for their tenants as we wish to use our resource for those living in the private sector on low
incomes. We will question approaches to the local authority for grants for DFGs from the
RSL sector. Our approach has been discussed with local RSLs at the RSL forum.

Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 & DFG‟s

The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 places a duty on social service
authorities to identify the numbers of disabled people in their area, and publish the help
available to them. It also requires them to arrange practical assistance in the home, and
any works of adaptation or the provision of additional facilities designed to secure greater
safety, comfort or convenience. Hence other organisations, such as a local housing
authority providing DFGs or another form of assistance, or acting as landlord in relation to
its own stock, or a Registered Social Landlord (RSL), may be involved.

Social Service authorities may discharge their duties by the direct provision of equipment
or adaptations, by providing loan finance to a disabled person to enable them to purchase
these facilities, or by providing a grant to cover or contribute to the costs of provision. They
may make charges for their services, where appropriate, using their powers under section
17 of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Act 1983. They
have a duty to ensure that the assistance required by disabled people is secured. This
includes those cases where the help needed goes beyond what is available through DFG,
or where a DFG is not available for any reason, or where a disabled person cannot raise
their assessed contribution.

The Council is committed to funding DFGs as they are crucial to meeting the needs of
people who are old, frail, or who have physical disabilities. We believe they are an
essential tool in ensuring people can either stay at home safely, or return home after a
stay in hospital. DFGs are mandatory for specified items up to a maximum amount of
£25,000 at present (although Government funding only covers 60% of the cost). Demand
for DFGs is always high with over 120 applications on our current waiting list. Table xx
below sets out details of our DFG activity.

                                                                                             35
Table 8 – DFG Activity
                            2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08
 Total no. Mandatory grants 73      90      102     102     100     100
 completed
 Total    expenditure    on 538     615     628     635     600     630
 Mandatory Grants (£000‟s)

We have recently amalgamated our DFG‟s service with the Occupational Therapy Team,
together with the Aids and Adaptations schemes from both the Council‟s Social Care
Team and the Housing Revenue Account. This will enhance joint working (for example in
the area of hospital discharge and prevention of hospitalisation) It should also achieve
better value procurement options for simple adaptations.

Renovation & Home Repair Assistance Grants

The Council will normally only consider awarding a Renovation Grant to make an unfit
property fit to live in. We can consider other such as to deal with substantial disrepair, or
to provide adequate thermal insulation, or work that supports the strategic aims of the
Crime and Community Safety Partnership. A full list is set out in Appendix xx. The
Council‟s budget for this work in 2005/06 is the same as for the previous year. Again, staff
resourcing is an issue – we have one member of staff to administer the budget of
£275,000 compared to Bath which has a team of 4 and a budget of £70,000.

For more information see “Delivering Housing Adaptations for disabled people – A good
practice guide ODPM Dec 2004”.




                                                                                          36
                               Section 8: Empty Homes


Empty Homes – National Context

Dealing with Empty Homes is a key Government requirement. An empty home is a
wasted resource both for the owner who could otherwise make financial gains by letting or
selling the property, and for those who are in need of housing. Empty homes can also
have strong negative impacts both on residents living in the neighbouring vicinity and the
wider community. Disrepair is a significant cause of long-term vacancy.

The 2001 English House Condition Survey (EHCS) provided a useful indication of the
proportion of empty homes that are subject to disrepair. The Survey found that around 3%
of the private stock was vacant, which is broadly in line with local authority estimates of
vacant dwellings. Of these, the EHCS found that half were considered to be 'problematic' -
defined as either requiring significant work before they could be re-occupied or vacant for
more than 6 months.

A Government Study (by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions
in 1996 'Vacant Dwellings in the Private Sector' concluded that there were two main types
of vacant property in the private sector:

   Transactional vacancies, which might be expected to be re-occupied quickly. These
    are necessary for the mobility of the housing market; and
   Problematic vacancies which are often in poor condition and vacancy is likely to be
    prolonged.

Problematic vacancies are over-represented among the private rented sector and tend to
be concentrated amongst pre-1919 terraced houses and converted flats. Half the
problematic vacancies would cost more than £5,000 to bring back into long-term use.

It also found that the main reason for properties becoming empty was due to the death of
the previous occupant or their movement into hospital or long-term care (27% and 14%
respectively giving a total of 41%).

The Housing Act 2004 contained new provisions for dealing with Empty Homes (see
below).

Empty Dwellings Management Orders (EDMO‟s)

The Housing Act 2004 introduced Empty Dwellings Management Orders. The Council will
be able to apply to a Residential Property Tribunal to make an EDMO on long-term empty
properties where there is a strong case for doing so. The owner will retain legal ownership
but will not be not entitled to receive any rent or other payments from anyone occupying
the dwelling and may not exercise any rights to manage the dwelling whilst an EDMO is in
force. However, the relevant proprietor retains their right to dispose of their interest in the
dwelling. An EDMO is a local land charge and the Council may apply to have details of it
entered on the Land Registry. Any sum of money recoverable from the relevant proprietor
under an EDMO is, until recovered, a charge on the dwelling. There will be two types of
order - interim EDMO and final EDMO.



                                                                                            37
An Interim Management Order is designed to provide time for a longer-term solution to be
found and will last for up to 12 months. They can be granted where a property has been
empty for more than 6 months. An Interim EDMO comes into force as soon as it has been
authorised and can last for a maximum period of 12 months. Once it is in force, the
Council must take steps to secure occupation and proper management of the dwelling. But
it cannot grant occupation rights to the dwelling without seeking consent from the relevant
proprietor. Where such consent is obtained, the Council may revoke the interim EDMO
and seek to replace it with a voluntary lease agreed with the relevant proprietor. Where
consent is not obtained, the Council may revoke the interim EDMO and seek to replace it
with a final EDMO.

The Council may make a final EDMO either to replace an interim EDMO or a previous final
EDMO if it considers the dwelling would otherwise become or remain unoccupied. For
example, if the relevant proprietor refused to allow the grant of occupation rights under an
interim EDMO and the Council considered that once the order ceased to have effect the
dwelling would be likely to remain unoccupied, that would be grounds to revoke the interim
order early and make a final EDMO to replace it. The Council does not need to obtain
authorisation from a Residential Property Tribunal to make a Final EDMO. Subject to any
appeal, a final EDMO comes into force no earlier than the day after the period for
appealing has expired and lasts for the period specified in the order which can be up to
seven years.

Other Statutory Powers

There are a number of powers available to the Council to deal with decent homes.
However none of the powers are an absolute power in every case. All of them require
time and resources to make them work and not all will result in empty homes coming back
into use (for example clearance). Examples of the powers available to the Council are as
follows:

Compulsory Purchase: Probably the strongest power available. Various Acts give the
Council it needs but generally local authorities can rely on Section 17 of the Housing Act
1985. The local authority will need to demonstrate that there is a compelling case in the
public interest for the property to be compulsorily purchased, and that other methods of
returning the property to use have been tried and have failed. In most cases this means
that compulsory purchase is a method of last resort. The Council also needs to have the
money available to purchase the property.

Purchase by Agreement: The simplest method as no statutory orders are needed but the
Council would need funds to purchase a property

Section 77 of the Building Act 1984: Enables local authorities to deal with buildings that
it considers to be dangerous. It can apply to a Magistrates‟ Court for an order requiring the
owner to make the building safe or demolish it. If the owner fails to comply, the Council
can carry out the works in default;

Section 78 of the Building Act 1984: allows local authorities to deal with buildings that
pose an immediate danger. This emergency measure allows the local authority to carry out
remedial works itself without giving the owner the opportunity to deal with it himself. The
local authority is only entitled to carry out works that remove the danger;



                                                                                          38
Section 29 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982: allows
local authorities to carry out works to an unoccupied building to prevent unauthorised entry
or to prevent it from becoming a danger to public health. 48 hours notice is needed unless
the works are required immediately. Costs are recoverable;

Sections 79-81 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990: allows the local authority to
require abatement of statutory nuisances. The term statutory nuisance applies to a range
of problems that might arise from empty homes, including accumulations of rubbish or
dampness affecting neighbouring properties. The act allows local authorities to serve an
abatement notice on the owner of the premises requiring works to abate the nuisance. If
the notice is not complied with the local authority can carry out works in default.

Enforced sale: This is actually a procedure that allows local authorities to recover debt,
but a number of local authorities have used it as a way of getting empty properties back
into use. The power dates back to the Law of Property Act 1925. This gives local
authorities the power to sell properties in order to release the money tied up in the value of
the property. This enables them to recover money they are owed. Where the owner fails to
repay the debt secured on their property the power enables the local authority to force the
sale of the property in order to recover the debt. Debts are secured on properties by the
local authority making a local land charge or making a caution on the land registry
certificate at HM Land Registry. Once the charge is in place the local authority can pursue
the enforced sale without further legal recourse.

Section 215 Town and Country Planning Act 1990: Section 215 (s215) of the Town &
Country Planning Act 1990 (the Act) provides a local planning authority (LPA) with the
power, in certain circumstances, to take steps requiring land to be cleaned up when its
condition adversely affects the amenity of the area. If it appears that the amenity of part of
their area is being adversely affected by the condition of neighbouring land and buildings,
they may serve a notice on the owner requiring that the situation be remedied. These
notices set out the steps that need to be taken, and the time within which they must be
carried out. LPAs also have powers under s219 to undertake the clean up works
themselves and to recover the costs from the landowner. The use of s215 by LPAs is
discretionary and it is therefore up to the LPA to decide whether a notice under these
provisions would be appropriate in a particular case, taking into account all the local
circumstances. LPAs will need to consider, for example, the condition of the site, the
impact on the surrounding area and the scope of their powers. In some circumstances
s215 notices may be used in conjunction with other powers, for example, repair notices in
respect of listed buildings or dangerous structure notices. The most important message
that LPAs should be aware of is that s215 action can be taken against land and buildings –
in s336 of the Act the definition of „land‟ includes a building

Empty Homes – Local Context

The Council is committed to highlighting and tackling the wasted resource of empty
properties, in order to complement and supplement its wider regenerative, social, financial
and strategic objectives. Important among these objectives is that of providing sufficient
accommodation to meet the needs of homeless people. A central aim of the Council‟s
Empty Homes Strategy is to increase the supply of accommodation by using empty
property in the private sector. The majority of homes that we bring back into use are put
into our Home Bond scheme (see below).



                                                                                           39
Data from the Council Tax Register showed that in April 2006 there were 2,955 properties
empty in the Borough. However, this only equates to around 3% of the total housing stock
being empty. This is in line with the national average shown in the English House
Condition Survey 2001.

Of these 2,955 empty Private Sector properties, 2,576 (87%) were in the Private Sector.
The Private Sector comprises around 80% of all dwellings in the Borough which suggests
that the number of empty homes is over-represented in the Private Sector. Our records
showed that 1,109 of the empty Private Sector properties were empty for more than 6
months.

Table 9: Analysis of Empty Homes as at 1st April 2006
 Total owned by RSLs                           162
 Total owned by „Other Public Sector‟             7
 Total owned by the Council                    210
 Total Private Sector                        2,576
 Grand Total                                 2,955

We estimate that it will cost in the region of £1,500-£25,000 per property to bring these
properties back into use. The overall scale of the problem in Milton Keynes is clearly
significant. This is not just in terms of the financial resources needed to tackle the problem
but also when set against the findings of the Draft Housing Needs Study 2006 (which
shows that we need 4,200 new homes in Milton Keynes each year).




                                                                                           40
                   Appendix 1: The Decent Homes Standard


Background

In the Government‟s 2000 Spending Review, a Public Service Agreement (PSA) target
was set to:

“ensure that all social housing meets standards of decency by 2010, by reducing
the number of households living in social housing that did 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 a comprehensive regeneration
strategy. “

The 2002 Spending Review renewed the commitment to making all social housing decent
by 2010. The target was also expanded to cover vulnerable households in the private
sector. The amended target is now:

“by 2010, to bring all social housing into decent condition, with most of the
improvement taking place in deprived areas, and increase the proportion of private
housing in decent condition occupied by vulnerable groups.“

The Government‟s Summary of the Definition

A decent home is one which is wind and weather tight, warm and has reasonably modern
facilities. It reflects what social landlords spend their money on. To set a national target a
common definition of decent is needed so all social landlords can work towards the same
goal. The definition of what is a decent home was updated in June 2006 to reflect the
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). This in turn replaced the Housing
Fitness Standard on 6 April 2006. A decent home meets the following four criteria:

a) It meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing
Dwellings which fail to meet this criterion are those containing one or more hazards
assessed as serious („Category 1‟) under the HHSRS.

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); and
 adequate size and layout of common areas for blocks of flats.

                                                                                           41
A home lacking two or fewer of the above is still classed as decent, therefore it is not
necessary to modernise kitchens and bathrooms if a home meets the remaining criteria.

d) It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort
This criterion requires dwellings to have both effective insulation and efficient heating. It
should be noted that, whilst dwellings meeting criteria b, c and d are likely also to meet
criterion a, some Category 1 hazards may remain to be addressed. For example, a
dwelling meeting criterion d may still contain a Category 1 damp or cold hazard.

More information can be found from the Government‟s Guidance issued in June 2006. To
obtain this click on the link below

http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1152136

Implementing the Decent Homes standard – Private sector

The following information comes from the Government‟s Decent Homes Guidance issued
June 2006:

“In 2002 the Decent Homes standard was extended to include the private sector with the
focus on reducing the proportion of vulnerable households living in non-decent homes.
This section of the guidance should be read in conjunction with ODPM circular 05/2003.
This circular sets out how a local authority should develop a private sector renewal
strategy as part of its overall housing strategy and how it should publish a policy setting
out its use of powers under the Regulatory Reform Order 2002 (the RRO) to support
private sector renewal. Meeting the private sector element of the Decent Homes standard
should be an important element of this process. Set out below is further guidance on how
this integration should be achieved. 6.17 The approach to making private sector homes
decent will be different from that adopted for homes in the social sector, reflecting the
different ownership responsibilities and the powers and duties of local authorities to take
enforcement action under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 on the basis of HHSRS
assessments. Achieving the Decent Homes standard will only be achieved by adopting a
combination of policies which will involve a range of assistance, advice and
encouragement to homeowners and using enforcement powers only as a last resort. It will
also involve developing a close relationship with other partnerships and policies and this is
covered in detail in circular 05/2003.

In particular Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) are seen by the Government as having a
particularly important role to play in taking forward the Decent Homes agenda. HIAs
provide a valuable service to help elderly, disabled and vulnerable people to remain living
independently in their own home for as long as they wish. There are currently around 200
HIAs covering over 300 local authority areas. They assess the clients‟ needs for
improvements and adaptations, arrange the best funding option and provide support
during the stress and disruption that work in the home can cause. This enables the client
to remain in a safe, warm and secure environment. Funding for HIAs has, since 1 April
2003, been part of the Supporting People programme. DCLG is investing another £2m in
HIAs from 1 April 2004 to encourage restructuring of the existing sector and expanding
into areas where there is currently little or no coverage. Foundations operate as the
National Co-ordinating Body for Home Improvement Agencies under contract to DCLG to
promote and develop the HIA sector. They can be contacted on 01457 891909 and can
advise on all aspects of HIAs work and whether an agency operates in a particular area.

                                                                                                42
The Warm Front grant programme, administered by the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs, makes an important contribution to meeting the thermal comfort
criterion of the Decent Homes standard. Local authorities need to work closely with the
scheme managers to maximise take up of resources by homeowners and tenants, share
information about vulnerable occupiers and, where necessary, supplement the programme
to ensure that the decency standard is achieved.

a. Private sector renewal policies to support delivery of the target

The powers given to local authorities under the RRO are designed to provide maximum
flexibility to develop new policies for private sector renewal which are consistent with local
priorities and reflect the availability of resources. Therefore, while local authorities should
aim to achieve or in some respects exceed the Decent Homes standard in every
applicable case where they provide advice or assistance, they will want to offer a tailored
package of financial incentives depending on the precise circumstances of each case.
Some authorities will only wish to offer grants to those owners who are seen either as
most vulnerable or in cases where no significant equity is available in the property. In other
cases, loans, equity release or other forms of assistance and advice may be more
appropriate. In area regeneration schemes the form of assistance will be determined in the
context of the wider regeneration objectives. For example, group repair schemes often
only provide grants to deal with structural and other external problems. It is unlikely that
many authorities would want to provide grant assistance for the modernisation of internal
facilities.

Financial assistance may in certain circumstances be made available to landlords in the
private rented sector in line with the authorities overall policy for that sector reflecting local
priorities. But local authorities should bear in mind the importance of the decency standard
and in all cases provide advice and support to owners to encourage them to achieve it.

b. Enforcement powers

Local authorities have statutory duties and powers to take enforcement action to deal with
properties containing hazards assessed under HHSRS. Under the Housing Act 2004, local
authorities have a duty to take appropriate enforcement action in relation to category 1
hazards and discretion to act in relation to category 2 hazards. Enforcement is an
important part of the strategy in dealing with non-decent homes, particularly those in the
private rented sector. In using their enforcement powers, local authorities should have
regard to the PSA target and its focus on vulnerable households

It should be noted that, as well as being subject to the requirements of the Decent Home
standard, RSLs can be subject to local authorities‟ enforcement powers. Authorities are
advised to take account of RSLs‟ decent homes implementation programmes when
considering the use of their powers. RSLs for their part are reminded that the homes of
vulnerable tenants in particular may need attention beyond that required by the Decent
Homes standard, and that they should establish the likely approach of their local
authorities to such cases.

c. Limitations in securing the target

6.24 Landlords are not expected to attempt remedial works to remove category 1 hazards
if this is impracticable – replacement of stairs for example. It is relevant to note that, in the

                                                                                               43
enforcement context, the Housing Act 2004 gives local authorities discretion in the
appropriate use of their powers and they may decide that immediate enforcement action is
unnecessary or impracticable. They may decide to suspend action, or issue a hazard
awareness notice (which requires no action) where the occupants are at minimal risk from
the hazard in question or the hazard is an integral feature of a building which cannot be
dealt with. It should also be remembered that, although local authorities have powers of
entry in relation to HHSRS, they have no power to enter premises against the wishes of
the owner to make a home decent in other respects.




                                                                                      44
              Appendix 2: Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMO)


Change in Definition of HMO

There will be changes to the definition of HMO, the key ones being:

   A dwelling will be an HMO if three or more unrelated people are sharing it
   Buildings comprising non self-contained flats will be HMO's
   Houses converted to self-contained flats before 1991 and not in accordance with the
    1991 Building Regs will be HMO's

The change in definition will particularly impact on smaller shared houses, particularly
those occupied by students. Traditionally this type of shared property has been regarded
as being singly occupied. The Act provides the framework of how HMO Licensing will
operate.

Mandatory HMO Licensing

The Act will require that higher risk HMO's will have to be licensed by local authorities. The
higher risk HMO's will be those comprising 3 or more storeys, five or more occupants
comprising two or more households. Licences will run for 5 years.

After implementation, it will be an offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence.
Conviction carries a maximum fine of £20,000. Once an application has been submitted no
offence is being committed whilst the Council is processing the application.

Council's should issue a licence for an HMO if they are satisfied that the landlord is a fit
and proper person, that they are competent and have the resources and systems in place
to properly manage HMOs. Council's will be able to place conditions on HMO licences
relating to occupancy levels, prevention of occupation of unsuitable parts of HMO's, their
proper management, tenant behaviour, improvement works, provision of safety certificates
for essential services, provision of a tenancy agreement, obtaining references and may
require that landlords undertake a training course on managing HMO's in accordance with
good practice. Licence conditions may include timescales for works to be carried out to
make HMO's suitable for occupation Landlords may appeal to a Property Tribunal if they
feel that a refusal to issue a licence, or the conditions attached or that the fee is
unreasonable.

From information gleaned as part of the license application Council‟s should draw up a
schedule of those properties, which are category 1 or 2 hazards (under the housing health
and safety rating system) and plan to inspect them. If an HMO does not comply with
satisfactory health and safety standards, authorities may take enforcement action to
require necessary remedial works (Improvement Notice). Alternatively the authority may
prohibit the use of, or part of, an HMO for human habitation if the accommodation is not
suitable (Prohibition Notice).

The government requires that HMO licensing schemes are self-funding and accordingly
Council's will charge a fee for an application for a licence. If the Council does not believe
that a landlord is fit to hold a licence they may require that another more competent
manager is the licence holder. In practice this may mean that professional managing


                                                                                           45
agents may be the licence holders for landlords who do not have the necessary skills,
knowledge, experience or competence.

If the Council refuses to issue a licence and the landlord does not propose an alternative
competent option then the Council must issue a Management Order and take over the
management of the property until a suitable licence holder can be arranged. A landlord
found to be operating a licensed HMO in breach of the licence conditions will be liable on
conviction to a maximum fine of £5000.

Council's can issue Exemption Orders for up to six months if landlords decide to change
an HMO from licensable to non-licensable. There will be new HMO Management
Regulations introduced which will be complemented by a new Code of Practice on HMO
Management.

Standards

The Housing Fitness standard is being replaced by the Housing Health and Rating System
(HHSRS). This is a risk assessment based system of determining hazards to health and
safety. The system focuses on the remedying of hazards rather than compliance with set
standards. However, the hazard will be assessed by referring to set standards and looking
at how far a house falls below them. When inspecting HMO's the Council will determine if
there are deficiencies present that can give rise to hazards. If so enforcement action will
be taken to require the landlord to remove or reduce the hazard.

Additional Licensing

The Act provides Local Authorities with a discretionary power to declare all or part of its
Area to be subject to additional licensing. This would bring into the licensing regime those
lower risk HMO's that are below the trigger point for mandatory licensing. Typically these
will be HMOs with less than three storeys or accommodating less than five people.
Additional licensing covering a particular area can operate for no more than five years.

Local authorities wishing to undertake additional licensing will need to satisfy the
requirements of a business case as specified in the Act. These are:

   That a significant proportion of HMOs of the above description are being managed
    ineffectively so as to give rise, or to be likely to give rise, to one or more particular
    problems for those occupying the HMOs or for members of the public;
   To consult with persons that may be affected by the designation and to consider any
    representations made;
   That the local authority has considered whether there are any other courses of action
    available to them that might provide an effective method of dealing with the problem or
    problems in question, for example an accreditation scheme;
   That the local authorities consider that making the designation will significantly assist
    them to deal with the problem or problem;
   That the authority has considered displacement and housing market effects.

The designation of additional licensing by a local authority will require confirmation by the
Government to ensure that the business case is proven.




                                                                                          46
Selective Licensing of Privately Rented Accommodation

In addition to mandatory and additional HMO licensing the Act gives local authorities the
power to designate an area(s) as subject to selective licensing, where in all privately
rented houses, whether or not in multiple accommodation or rented to single households,
would be required to be licensed by the local authority. The power is available to use:

   Where an area is or is likely to become an area of low housing demand and making a
    designation will, when forming part of an area regeneration strategy, contribute to the
    improvement of the social or economic conditions in the area
   Where an area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-
    social behaviour which some or all private landlords letting in the area are not
    combating, and making a designation will, when forming part of an anti social behaviour
    reduction strategy, lead to a reduction in, or the elimination of the problem.

Privately rented properties within the selective areas will require to be licensed. The
licence holders must be fit and proper persons with the competency and means to properly
manage properties. Conditions may be attached to the licence that are considered by the
local authority to be appropriate for regulating the management, use or occupation of the
property. Conditions may include:

   Imposing restrictions or prohibitions on the use or occupation of particular parts of the
    house by people occupying it; or
   Requiring the taking of reasonable and practical steps to prevent or reduce anti social
    behaviour by persons occupying or visiting the house;
   Requiring the taking up of references from people seeking privately rented
    accommodation in the area;
   Conditions may be attached to the licence that are considered by the local authority to
    be appropriate for regulating the management, use or occupation of the property.

In summary, selective licensing can regulate which landlords operate in an area and how
they mange their properties. It will an offence to let property in an area of selective
licensing without a licence or to do so in breach of licence conditions. Local authorities can
charge a licence fee to recover some of the costs of operating the scheme.

Planning Policy H10

 The Council has a policy in its Local Plan (Policy H10) that aims to regulate any
unacceptable proliferation of HMO‟s in an area. Rather than set out a uniform standard
against which to judge all proposals, the Policy will be used to assess the issue on a case
by case basis. This is because the Borough has a diverse range of residential areas and
what may be an acceptable concentration of HMO‟s in on area may not be so in another.
The objective of this policy is to ensure that subdivisions and conversions provide an
acceptable standard of accommodation and do not adversely affect the surrounding area.
Within the limits of development of settlements, planning permission will be granted for the
sub division of existing dwellings into flats, or the creation of houses in multiple occupation,
if all of the following criteria are satisfied:

    (i)   Effective measures are proposed to minimise the effects of noise and
          disturbance



                                                                                             47
   (ii)    Off street parking and manoeuvring space is provided to meet the Council‟s
           standards or, if on-street parking is necessary, it would not results in
           unacceptable congestion in the surrounding area
   (iii)   Adequate outdoor space is available for bin storage and a drying area
   (iv)    The proposal would not adversely affect the character of the surrounding area or
           lead to an unacceptable concentration of flats or houses in multiple occupation
           within the area.

Conclusion

Mandatory HMO licensing will enable local authorities to identify the higher risk HMOs
within their areas and regulate their living conditions and the quality of their management.
It presents potential opportunities to contribute to Community Safety. Additional
discretionary HMO licensing would extend this control to lower risk accommodation but a
business case for this needs to be satisfied as the Government wishes to avoid over-
regulation. Selective licensing in a designated area will be a useful tool to support area
regeneration where privately rented houses are in poor condition and badly managed and
to deal with areas that are subject to high levels of anti social behaviour.




                                                                                         48
                              Appendix 3: Home Bond


What is the Home Bond Scheme?

The Home Bond Scheme was set up in October 2003 as a response to the growing
number of homeless clients having to be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation.
People were spending unacceptable amounts of time in bed, albeit temporarily, due to a
lack of available properties within our stock.

The people that we are now placing with Private Sector Landlords are registered and been
accepted as homeless. Prospective tenants are very carefully selected by an experienced
team of officers to ensure a successful tenancy.

When a tenancy is signed MKC do not leave it there.

An experienced team of officers are there to assist in over-seeing all aspects of the
tenancy.

      1. Empty Homes Officer (EHO)
            Initial property inspection for Health and Safety compliance.
            Offer advice to landlord on prescribed standards
            Will accept or decline a property for the scheme

      2. Homelessness Accommodation Development Officer (HADO)
            Carry out tenant suitability inspection of property
            Photographic inventory of property before sign up
            Offer advice to tenant/landlord on tenancy issues
            Will accept or decline tenant/landlord for scheme

      3. Housing Benefit Landlord Liaison Officer (LLO)
            Assist tenant/landlord with claim assessment
            Assist tenant/landlord with payments

      4. Homeless Tenant Support Officer (HTSO)
            Where needed offer support to tenants who may be vulnerable (learning
              difficulties etc)
            Liase between tenant/landlord when tenant feels unable to „deal‟ directly
              with landlord (e.g. language barriers )

What is the Bond?

The vast majority of our clients are going through a period of financial vulnerability, thus
precluding them from being able to raise a deposit.

As an accepted homeless case, MKC has a statutory duty to provide housing. For that
reason MKC have launched this scheme whereby we can offer a Private Sector landlord a
bond guaranteeing one months rent. Once issued an independent partner (Shelter) over
sees this bond. In the rare event of a tenancy failure (e.g. abandonment) the bond can be
submitted for payment.


                                                                                         49
What are the benefits for a Landlord?

With such an important and positively impacting scheme, it would not be in MKC‟s interest
to take a back seat. We are only too aware of the huge capital investment a landlord
makes in their property and the goodwill being afforded to us by our landlords.

The use of Private Sector properties is a long-term commitment and a vital tool enabling
MKC to deliver quality housing for its homeless clients.

The team previously mentioned has been assembled specifically to provide knowledge,
experience and support, thus giving the scheme the very best chance of success and
landlords the confidence to enter into partnership with us.

What is a Pre Tenancy Determination (PTD)?

This is a simple form (completed for landlords by our team) that details the property size,
address and rent, proposed tenants details and family size. It is then submitted to the Rent
Office based in Surrey for assessment. The Rent Office is the government body who
determines whether a „fair‟ rent is being charged. This process usually takes 3-4 days. It is
very important to follow this procedure because without an approved PTD there may be
issues for any subsequent housing benefit claim.

Expected Rent levels 2004/2005

Rent levels a landlord can expect to achieve on a property that fully complies with Health and Safety:

        Bedsit                           £370-420 per month

        1 bed property                   £430-495 per month

        2 bed property                   £520-590 per month

        3 bed property                   £600-630 per month

What type of Tenancy Agreement will be used?

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement will be used.

This type of tenancy MUST run for an initial period of six months, except in cases of
breach of tenancy.

This six month period offers stability to both tenant and landlord and also allows both
parties to an introduction period. MKC consider it paramount that both tenant and landlord
are happy with one another.

Four months into a tenancy each case is reviewed on its own merits. If both parties are
happy with the arrangement, MKC will seek to negotiate an extension to the tenancy. This
extension could range from six months to two years on a monthly periodic basis (requires
1 months notice to terminate). The bond will last for the duration of the tenancy, being
renewed as required.




                                                                                                         50
How will I be paid?

Housing Benefit is paid on a four weekly cycle, in arrears by cheque. This payment is
made directly to the landlord.

The Landlord Liaison Officer within the Housing Benefits teams is there to assist you
should you have any questions relating to your tenants claim.



                      Example of Housing Benefit Calculation
Based on a rent of £600

Housing Benefit pay rent on a weekly basis, 4 weeks in arrears. The calculation below
demonstrates how the weekly rent is calculated.

£600 x 12 (months of the year)  365 (days in a year) x 7 (days in a week = £138.08
(weekly rent)

Housing Benefit is paid 4 weekly in arrears: £138.08 x 4 = £552.32 per 4 weeks rather
than £600 per calendar month.




                                                                                   51
What sort of property do the Council want?

We are looking for one, two and three bedroom properties. If you have a four bedroom
property we may be able to consider this, but have slightly less demand for larger
properties.

We will consider flats, houses or maisonettes across the whole Borough of Milton Keynes.

We will require your property to have white goods in the kitchen, i.e. a cooker, washing
machine and fridge. The property will need to be fully carpeted, with washable floor
coverings in the bathroom and kitchen.

How does my property qualify for the scheme?

If you would like the Council to consider your property we will need to carry out an
inspection. The following will be checked:

      Windows and doors must all be in good working order, be able to open, close and
       lock cleanly
      The structure of the building-the walls, roof (including guttering) and chimney-must
       all be in good order
      Gardens must be tidy, any rubbish removed and grass, trees and shrubs cut back
       ready for handover
      Decoration must be to a reasonable clean standard throughout
      Floor coverings must be clean, fitted well so that there are no trip hazards
      Kitchen: all cupboards, drawers and work surfaces in good condition. Taps should
       turn on and off easily and all pipe work will be checked
      Bathroom: all sanitary ware should be in good condition. Taps should turn on and
       off easily, WC should flush and refill, WC seat fixed securely. If you have a shower
       attachment a shower rail and curtain should be provided.
      All electric sockets, pendants and switches will be visually checked, and will need to
       be replaced if cracked or appear to be unsafe. It is highly recommended that before
       you let your property you do have the electrical system checked by an NICEIC
       registered contractor
      By law you are required on an annual basis to have the gas appliances within a
       rental property tested by a CORGI registered contractor. He needs to provide you
       with a CP12 certificate, which we must have before the property can be let.

To arrange an inspection please call Carolyn Russell, our Empty Property Officer on 01908 253030

What are the benefits to me?

      You will receive a rent in line with market levels
      This is a completely free service, with no arrangement fees or monthly commission
      Your rent will be paid direct to you by cheque from the Council
      We will find you a tenant for the property
      We will provide all paperwork for the tenancy. Tenancy agreement, housing benefit
       form, inventory and condition report and bond
      You will receive a bond to the value of one months rent, to cover unpaid rent or
       damage
      Regular inspections of the property carried out by the Council

                                                                                              52
      Free advice and information to ensure that the tenancy is maintained to a high
       standard
      Access to a dedicated Benefits Officer, ensuring housing benefit claims are
       assessed swiftly, and you get paid promptly
      Extensive condition report and inventory completed at commencement of tenancy

What will I be responsible for?

Repairs:

As landlord of the property you remain responsible for repairs to the property keeping the
property in a good state of repair. This includes the structure and exterior of the building
and the fencing. Internally you must ensure that the installations for the supply of gas,
water and electricity and sanitation (basins, sinks, baths and WCs) are kept in good repair.
You are also responsible for ensuring that the provision for heating and heating water is
kept in good working order.

Annual Gas inspection:

As landlord of the property it is your responsibility to ensure that an annual inspection is
carried out of the gas appliances by a CORGI registered contractor. A copy of the CP12
should be left with the tenant and a copy passed to the Council.

Buildings Insurance:

It is recommended that you always ensure your property is adequately covered by
buildings insurance. It is advisable to always update you insurance company with any
changes to the use of the property. If you are providing the property furnished, you may
also wish to insure this element of the contents. The tenants will be responsible for
arranging contents insurance for their own belongings.

Quiet Enjoyment of the Property:

As Landlord of the property the tenancy agreement does allow you to access the property
to inspect its condition and state of repair. It should be noted that that tenancy agreement
also allows the tenant „quiet enjoyment of the property‟. Should you wish to inspect the
property, you must always ensure that you pre-arrange this with the tenant, giving 24
hours notice in writing.

Gas, Water, Electric and Council Tax charges:

Whilst the property is occupied the tenant will be responsible for these charges. If the
property is empty, these costs will revert to the landlord.

Tenant Responsibilities:

      To use the property as their primary/sole residence
      To register on sign up to the tenancy with Water Board, Electricity and Gas
       suppliers for the purpose of billing
      To not breach any conditions of their Tenancy Agreement
      To keep the interior of the property in a good and clean condition


                                                                                         53
   To effect good quality repairs to any damage caused by tenant, tenants family
    members and tenants guests.
   To maintain any common parts and gardens
   To allow landlord reasonable access with 24 hours notice for purpose of property
    inspection
   To not change decorative order of property without the express prior written
    permission of the landlord
   To not keep any pets without the express prior written permission of the landlord
   To leave property in an equal or better standard than when tenancy was originally
    signed.




                                                                                  54
                  Appendix 4: BRE Housing Stock Projections


The outputs from the BRE Housing Stock Projections are based on 2001 data and will not
therefore have taken account of improvements in the stock over the last five years. This
has particular relevance to the PSA7 target for decent homes occupied by vulnerable
occupiers.

Nationally there has been a 9% improvement between 2001 and 2004; an average of 3%
per year. If the same rate of improvement continued to 2006 then a 15% improvement on
the 2001 position would be expected. This would result in a 2006 percentage of 81% i.e.
well in excess of the 2010 PSA7 target.

Implicit in this are three quite sweeping assumptions;

   The rate of improvement has been the same in the authority as at the national level
    before 2004 and
   This rate of improvement will have continued from 2004 to 2006;
   The replacement of the fitness standard with the Rating System will not have impacted
    on the rate of improvement.

There are various steps that could be taken by the authority to determine the validity of the
results. The DCLG provide a tool for estimating the number of vulnerable occupiers living
in non decent homes, known as the District Level Ready Reckoner For Private Sector
Households in Non Decent Homes.

This tool relies on the local authority providing estimates of the number of private sector
properties in the age bands pre-1919, 1919-1945, 1945-1964, 1964-1980 and post 1980.
These estimates are multiplied by proportions which depend upon the age band and the
level of deprivation in the authority. Authorities have been divided by the DCLG into ten
groups, based on the general level of deprivation in the authorities within them, and group
10 having the lowest level of deprivation. Milton Keynes belongs to group 6. The Housing
Stock Models use data on the age of stock as input variables. Using these data as input to
the DCLG Ready Reckoner results in an estimate of 2,289 (3.3%) non decent dwellings
occupied by vulnerable groups. This compares favourably to the 2,809 (4.1%) estimate
produced by the models.

It must however be pointed out that the Ready Reckoner is itself a model and cannot be
taken on its own as verification of the housing stock model results.




                                                                                          55
               Appendix 5: Profile of the Private Rented Sector


The Profile is reproduced from the Milton Keynes Housing Needs Study 2006.

Introduction
A private renting household is defined as one which rents its property from a private sector
landlord. A total of 317 private renting households were identified as part of the sample,
which represents 13% of all households interviewed. Results for questions in this section
should be accurate to within +/5.5% points at the 95% confidence level.

Household Profiles
26% of private renting households were single people while 20% were a group of adults.




                                                                                         56
Age of Respondents
60% of private renting households had a respondent who was aged under 35 years.
Private renting households were generally more likely to have younger respondents.




Special Needs
9% of private renting households contained someone who suffered from a health problem.
This percentage is much lower than the overall figure (21%) for all households who
contained someone with a health problem.

3% of private renting households contained at least one member who experienced walking
or mobility difficulties. 2% contained someone suffering from diabetes and 2% also
contained someone with mental health problems.

1% of all private renting households do not currently have their housing requirements due
to health problems met.




                                                                                      57
58
Employment Status
86% of private renting households contained at least one member who was working,
while60% of all private renting household members worked fulltime.




                                                                             59
Receipt of State Benefits
27% of private renting households received child benefit, and 21% received Housing
benefit.44% of private renting households received some form of state benefit. In
comparison, two fifths (40%) of all households received state benefits.




                                                                               60
Household Incomes
10% of private renting households had an income under £6,000 per year, in contrast to 8%
of all households. 18% of private renting households had an income between £6,000 and
£11,999, compared with 16% of all households. 31% of private renting households had an
annual income of £32,000 or more which is much lower than the proportion of all
households (43%) with such an income.




                                                                                     61
The equivalised incomes of private renting households were much more likely to appear in
the lower quintiles of equivalised income.




Savings and Investments
Households were asked about what level of savings they had. 75% of private renting
households had no savings. 8% of private renting households had savings of up to £1,000,
a further 8% possessed savings between £1,000 and £4,999, and 9% had savings in
excess of £4,999. A much lower proportion of private renting households possessed
savings amounting to more than £4,999, when compared to the corresponding figure for all
households.

Debts and Arrears
72% of private households had no debts and a further 7% had debts amounting to less
than £2,000. However, 17% reported debts in excess of £2,999. The proportion of private
renting households who had no debts was lower than the corresponding result for all
households (77%).




                                                                                      62
Assistance with Housing Costs
79% of private renting households received no assistance with their housing costs. 21%
received part or full housing benefit which compares with 13% of all households. Where
private renting households were paying all or part of their housing costs they were asked
whether they considered these within their budget. Overall, 19% of the private renting
households felt that their costs were well within their current budget, whilst 27% said they
were about right given their circumstances. However, 34% felt the costs were just
manageable, 15% said the costs put a strain on their finances and 5% reported extreme
difficulties. These results show that many more private renting households have difficulty
with housing costs when compared with the corresponding figures for all households.




Experiences of Financial Difficulties
3% of private renting households had experienced difficulties with their housing costs in
the last 12 months. This compares with 4% of all households who reported that they had
had difficulties with their housing costs in the past 12 months.




                                                                                         63
Type of Accommodation Currently Occupied
41% of all private renting households lived in a terraced dwelling, a further 25% lived in a
semidetached house or bungalow, and 10% lived in a detached home. 24% lived in a flat
or maisonette. Private renting households were more likely to live in terraced housing or
flats than the corresponding results for all households.




                                                                                         64
Size of Accommodation
24% of private renting households lived in one bedroom accommodation while 33%
occupied a dwelling containing two bedrooms. 34% lived in three bedroom
accommodation and 9% had four or more bedrooms in their home. The results suggest
that a far lower proportion of private renting households lived in four and five bedroom
properties when compared with all households.




                                                                                     65
74% of private renting households felt they had the right number of rooms in their home.
However, 24% stated that they did not have sufficient rooms while 2% felt they had too
many rooms in their dwelling. 9% of private renting households were overcrowded which
compares with 4% of all households who were overcrowded.




                                                                                     66
Physical Condition of the Housing Stock
12% of private rented households had a serious problem with their home. This is slightly
higher than the figure for all households (where 10% of households had a serious
problem).




                                                                                     67
92% of private renting households had fixed heating in all of the rooms in their home. This
is lower than the 96% of all households who had fixed heating in all rooms. Of private
renting households, 82% had central heating, 18% used storage heaters, 3% utilised gas
fires and a further 1% used solid fuel.

Satisfaction with the Home
82% of private renting households were satisfied with their home and 11% were
dissatisfied. This compares with 7% of all households who were dissatisfied with their
home & 18% of Council rented households.




                                                                                        68
Want to Move
35% of private renting households would like to move. This figure is higher than the 21%
of all households who would like to move. Of those private renting households who want to
move, 34% want to move elsewhere in their neighbourhood, 51% want to move elsewhere
in Milton Keynes and 14% want to move elsewhere in the UK.




.
Of those private rented households who want to move, 45% are likely to move to a
property they own with a mortgage and 22% to a private rented property.




                                                                                      69
Of those private rented households who want to move, 31% want to move to a
semidetached house and 36% want to move to a terraced house. It is noticeable that
private rented households are less likely to want to move to a detached house.




                                                                               70
Affordable Housing Solutions
For private rented households, 41% can afford market housing, 20% can afford Newbuild
Homebuy, 6% can afford Open Market Homebuy, 4% can afford intermediate rent and
29% can afford social housing.

For all households, 70% can afford market housing, 10% can afford Newbuild Homebuy,
4% can afford Open Market Homebuy, 2% can afford intermediate rent and 14% can
afford social housing.




                                                                                  71
The ORS Housing Model identifies that many private rented households should move to
intermediate or social housing.




                                                                                      72
           Appendix 6: Analysis of “Housing Options” Interviews



Between April 2006 and March 2007 the Council carried out “housing options” interviews
of people who wanted social housing. A total of 942 interviews were carried out. Of these,
33 interviews were with clients from out of the Milton Keynes area and 16 clients did not
provide their address, which means that the tenure of their properties cannot be identified.

Tenure

      558 (59.2%) of clients who had housing options interviews between April 2006 and
       March 2007 were living in private properties. This was owner occupier, shared
       owner, private rent or rent-tied properties.
      172 (18.3%) clients were living in Council properties.
      75 (8.0%) clients were living in Registered Social Landlord (Housing Association)
       properties.
      44 (4.7%) clients were living in Bed and Breakfast accommodation. (Clients in B&Bs
       are homeless and temporarily housed in B&Bs whilst their housing situation is
       resolved)
      44 (4.7%) clients were living in other tenure types.

Reason for Housing Options interviews

Reason provided for having a Housing Options interview included:

      Affordability
      Mortgage arrears
      Council rent arrears
      Housing Association rent arrears

      Termination of Assured Shorthold Tenancies
      Termination of rent tied accommodation

      Parents no longer willing to accommodate
      Friends no longer willing to accommodate
      Overcrowding

      Leaving Institutional Care
      National Asylum Seeker Service

      Unsuitable accommodation for child/ren‟s education and welfare
      Unsuitable condition of property
      Medical reason
      Other social reason

      Non violent relationship breakdown
      Violent relationship breakdown
      Violent associated others relationship breakdown
      Other violent relationship breakdown
                                                                                         73
      Racial Harassment
      Other forms of Harassment

      Other

The five reasons that were most provided for having a housing options interview can be
seen in the table below, with the number and percentage of clients who provided the
reason.

Table 10: Housing Option interviews by reasons for having an interview
 Reason for Housing Options interview               Number of        Percentage of
                                                       clients             clients
 Parents no longer willing to accommodate                  221              23.5%
 Termination of Assured Shorthold Tenancy                  199              21.1%
 Friends no longer willing to accommodate                  158              16.8%
 Non violent relationship breakdown                         52               5.5%
 Violent    associated       others  relationship           51               5.4%
 breakdown

Reason for Housing Options interviews by Tenure

Private Sector

Table 11 below shows the main reasons why clients from the private sector had housing
options interviews.

Table 11: Number and percentage of clients from the private sector by reasons for
having a housing options interview
 Reason for Housing Options interview         Number of        Percentage of
                                                  clients             clients
 Termination of Assured Shorthold Tenancy             192              34.4%
 Parents no longer willing to accommodate              90              16.1%
 Friends no longer willing to accommodate              76              13.6%
 Mortgage arrears                                      46                8.2%
 Non violent relationship breakdown                    30                5.4%
 Other                                                124              22.2%
 Total                                                558               100%

The highest proportion of clients from the private sector had a housing options interview
because of „termination of Assured Shorthold Tenancy‟, with 34.4%. Amongst „Other‟
reasons for requiring housing options interviews included affordability. 20 private sector
clients had a housing options interview because of affordability.

Council

The table below shows the main reasons why clients from council properties had housing
options interviews.




                                                                                       74
                                          DRAFT
Table 12: Number and percentage of Council clients by reasons for having a housing
options interview
 Reason for Housing Options interview               Number of       Percentage of
                                                        clients             clients
 Parents no longer willing to accommodate                    69              40.1%
 Friends no longer willing to accommodate                    42              24.4%
 Non violent relationship breakdown                           9                5.2%
 Violent associated others relationship breakdown             8                4.7%
 Violent relationship breakdown                               7                4.1%
 Other                                                       37              21.5%
 Total                                                      172               100%

The highest proportion of clients from Council properties had a housing options interview
because their parents were no longer willing to accommodate (40.1%). This is higher than
the percentage of private sector clients who had housing options interviews for the same
reason. No clients from Council properties had a housing options interview for affordability.

Registered Social Landlords (RSLs)

Table 13 below shows the main reasons why clients from Registered Social Landlord
(RSLs) properties had housing options interviews.

Table 13: Number and percentage of RSL clients by reason for having housing
options interviews
 Reason for Housing Options interview             Number of   Percentage of
                                                     clients         clients
 Parents no longer willing to accommodate                 29          38.7%
 Friends no longer willing to accommodate                 17          22.7%
 Non violent relationship breakdown                        9            12%
 Violent associated others relationship breakdown          4            12%
 RSL rent arrears                                          3             4%
 Other                                                    13          17.3%
 Total                                                    75           100%

The highest proportion of RSL clients had a housing options interview because their parents
were no longer willing to accommodate. However amongst „Other‟ reasons, affordability was
provided as a reason for 2 clients (2.7%).

Other Tenures

Other tenures types included Caravan Park, Institutional Care or Supported Housing
schemes.

The table below shows the main reasons why clients from other tenure types had housing
options interviews.




                                                                                          75
                                                  DRAFT
Table 14: Number and percentage of „other tenure types‟ by reasons for having
housing options interviews
 Reason for Housing Options interview             Number of     Percentage of
                                                     clients           clients
 Violent associated others relationship breakdown         16            36.4%
 Parents no longer willing to accommodate                  8            18.2%
 Violent relationship breakdown                            8            18.2%
 Rent tied accommodation                                   3              6.8%
 Termination of Assured Shorthold Tenancy                  3              6.8%
 Other                                                     6            13.6%
 Total                                                    44             100%

The highest proportion of clients in other tenure types had a housing options interview
because of a violent associated others relationship breakdown, with 36.4%.

Tenure Type by Age

Table 15 below shows the age of the clients who had housing options interviews between
April 2006 and March 2007 by the tenure type of their properties.

Table 15: Number and percentage of clients by age and tenure type
       Age          Private        Council         RSL       Bed and         Other         Total
                                                            Breakfast
  16-24 yrs   153 (27.4%)     87 (50.6%)     35 (46.7%)    29 (65.9%)    19 (43.2%)          323
                                                                                         (36.2%)
  25-34 yrs   189 (33.9%)     50 (29.1%)     16 (21.3%)    6 (13.6%)     14 (31.9%)          275
                                                                                        ((30.8%)
  35-44 yrs   133 (23.8%)     18 (10.5%)     17 (22.7%)    7 (15.9%)      4 (9.1%)           179
                                                                                         (20.0%)
  45-54 yrs    51   (9.1%)     7    (4.1%)    5   (6.7%)    1   (2.3%)   6 (13.6%)    70 (7.8%)
  55-64 yrs    24   (4.3%)     8    (4.7%)    2   (2.7%)    1   (2.3%)    0 (0.0%)    35 (3.9%)
  65-74 yrs     6   (1.2%)     2    (1.2%)    0   (0.0%)    0   (0.0%)    1 (2.3%)    9 (1.0%)
   75 yrs +     1   (0.2%)     0    (0.0%)    0   (0.0%)    0   (0.0%)    0 (0.0%)    1 (0.1%)
    Age not     1   (0.2%)     0    (0.0%)    0   (0.0%)    0   (0.0%)    0 (0.0%)    1 (0.1%)
   provided
      Total   558 (100%)      172 (100%)     75 (100%)     44 (100%)     44 (100%)    893 (100%)

It would appear that:

      36.2% of all clients who had housing options interviews were aged between 16 to 24
       years;
      30.8% all clients were aged between 25 and 34 years;
      20% were aged between 35 and 44 years;
      12.9% were aged 45 years and above.

With regards to the private sector, the highest proportion of clients (33.9%) was aged
between 25 and 34 years, 27.4% were aged between 16 and 24 years and 23.8% were
aged between 35 and 44 years. A further 24.1% were aged 45 years and over.

Half of Council clients (50.6%) were aged between 16 and 24 years and 29.1% were aged
between 25 and 34 years. 29.1% were aged between 25 and 34 years and 10.5% were
aged between 35 and 44 years. 10% were aged 45 years and over.



                                                                                             76
                                        DRAFT
The highest proportion of clients from RSL properties were aged between 16 and 24 years
(46.7%). 22.7% were aged 35 and 44 years and 21.3% were aged 25 and 34 years. 9.4%
were aged 45 years and over.

The majority of Bed and Breakfast (B&B) clients were aged between 16 and 24 years
(65.9%). 15.9% were aged between 35 and 44 years and 13.6% were aged between 25 and
34 years. 4.6% were aged 45 years and over.

43.2% of clients from other tenure types were aged between 16 and 24 years. 31.9% were
aged between 25 and 34 years and 13.6% were aged between 45 and 54 years. Only 9.1%
were aged between 35 and 44 years and 2.3% were 55 years and over.

Tenure Type by Gender

Table 16 below shows the gender of the clients who had a housing options interview
between April 2006 and March 2007 by the tenure type of their properties. It shows that
67.6% of clients who had housing options interviews were female and that the majority of
clients for each tenure type were female.

Table 16: Number and percentage of clients by tenure type and gender
 Sex       Private   Council    RSLs        Bed & Breakfast Other             Total
 Male      173 (31%) 63 (36.6%) 28          17 (38.6%)         8              289
                                (37.3%)                        (18.2%)        (32.4%)
 Female 385 (69%) 109           47          27 (61.4%)         36             604
                     (63.4%)    (62.7%)                        (81.8%)        (67.6%)
 Total     558       172        75          44                 44             893
           (100%)    (100%)     (100%)      (100%)             (100%)         (100%)

Tenure Type by Ethnicity

Table 17 shows the ethnicity of the clients who had a housing options interview by tenure
type. 29.6% of clients who had a housing options interview were from BME communities.
However the percentage of households from BME communities does vary between the
tenure types. 25.4% of RSL clients, 25.1% of clients from the private sector and 25% of
clients from other tenure types were from BME communities. By comparison, 13.3% of
Council clients were from BME communities.




                                                                                        77
                                           DRAFT
Table17: Number and percentage of clients by tenure type and ethnicity
                                              Bed         and
 Ethnicity    Private  Council    RSL         Breakfast        Other              Total
              392      142        55                           30                 690
 White        (70.3%)  (82.6%)    (73.3%)     33 (75.0%)       (68.2%)            (73.2%)
 Asian     or
 Asian        36                  3                                               55
 British      (6.5%)   5 (2.9%) (4.0%)        4 (9.1%)         3 (6.8%)           (5.8%)
 Black     or
 Black        78                  14                                              114
 British      (14.0%)  11 (6.4%) (18.7%)      4 (9.1%)         3 (6.8%)           (12.1%)
              9                   0                                               19
 Mixed        (1.6%)   4 (2.3%) (0.0%)        1 (2.3%)         4 (9.1%)           (2.0%)
 Other
 Ethnic       17                  2                                               25
 Group        (3.0%)   3 (1.7%) (2.7%)        2 (4.5%)         1 (2.3%)           (9.7%)
 Ethnicity
 not          26       7          1                                               39
 provided     (4.7%)   (4.1%)     (1.3%)      0 (0.0%)         3 (6.8%)           (4.1%)
              558      172        75                           44                 942
 Total        (100%)   (100%)     (100%)      44 (100%)        (100%)             (100%)


What does this tell us?

The analysis of the Housing Options interviews tells us that:

      The majority of people who had a Housing Options interview were living in the private
       sector;
      The main reason why private sector households sought a Housing Options interview
       was due to the ending of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. However, the data does
       not show why why the landlord had ended the tenancy, nor why households had not
       simply negotiated another private tenancy with another landlord;
      With regards to the private sector, the highest proportion of clients (33.9%) was aged
       between 25 and 34 years;
      The gender of 69% of private sector households interviewed was female. The
       reasons for this aren‟t clear and more work would be needed to understand this;
      25% of households from the private sector were from BME communities. The
       Housing Needs Study 2006 showed that the BME population of Milton Keynes was
       just under 17% of the population. It would appear therefore that BME communities
       are over-represented in the private sector Housing Options interviews. However, the
       Housing Needs Study 2006 showed that 48% of BME households rented their home,
       (in comparison with 32% of all households). Of the BME households who were
       renters, 62% rented from a private landlord.

The Housing Options analysis was further supplemented by taking part in a small number of
Housing Options interviews with private sector households. The purpose was to try and
better understand the reasons why people living in the private sector would want or need
alternative accommodation given that satisfaction rates in the private sector were higher
than in the council rented sector (see Appendix 5).



                                                                                            78
DRAFT




        79

								
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