DRAFT POLICY

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DRAFT POLICY Powered By Docstoc
					MENDIP DISTRICT COUNCIL

    PRIVATE SECTOR
HOUSING RENEWAL POLICY

  July 2004 – March 2005
Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




CONTENTS


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY                                               2



INTRODUCTION                                                    4



THE REGULATORY REFORM HOUSING ASSISTANCE ORDER 2002             5



POLICY FOUNDATIONS                                              7



ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE                                           14



DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS                                     19



MANAGEMENT AND DELIVERY                                        20



THE FUTURE                                                     21



CONTACTS                                                       22



APPENDICES                                                     23

APPENDIX A - CONSULTEES                                         II
APPENDIX B - GROUP REPAIR WORKS                                III
APPENDIX C - ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUAL HOUSEHOLDS (REPAIRS)     IV
APPENDIX D - COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE                               V
APPENDIX E -     ENERGY ADVICE ENQUIRY                         IX
APPENDIX F - HOUSING ENFORCEMENT POLICY                         X
APPENDIX G - LANDLORDS' GRANT: EMPTY PROPERTY                 XV
APPENDIX H - DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS                      XVII
APPENDIX J - STRUCTURE FOR DELIVERY                          XVIII
APPENDIX I - DISCRETIONARY DISABLED FACILITIES GRANTS         XIX
APPENDIX K – CUSTOMER SATISFACTION                            XX
APPENDIX I – GLOSSARY                                         XXI



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Executive Summary

   The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) Order 2002 introduced significant
    changes to the way in which local authorities could undertake private sector housing
    renewal. The key changes that the Order made were:
     The repealing of existing legislation which provided detailed criteria for providing
       grant assistance to householders
     Greater freedom for local authorities to target assistance to district priorities
     Required a policy to be adopted and published in order for any assistance to be
       provided.

   In response to the Order the Council introduced the Private Sector Housing Renewal
    Policy. This was devised using the following key documents for Mendip:
     General Housing Strategy 2002 – 2005/6
     House Condition Survey 2004
     Housing Needs Survey 2001

The policy operated for one year until the end of June 2004. This interim policy is to
replace the outgoing one, and will be for nine months up until the end of March 2005.

   The policy is an interim policy devised to operate for a nine month period until March
    2005. This allows for more up to date Housing Need data to be obtained, and for new
    products under development to be incorporated at the end of the year such as low
    interest loans. The introduction of the Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing
    legislation towards the end of the year will also have an affect on the policy.

   The policy will operate within the housing Capital Investment Programme for 2004/05.

   The key issues contained within this policy are:
     Consolidates existing policies on enforcement, disabled facilities grants, group
       repair, empty properties
     Continues to place a large emphasis on providing home maintenance advice and
       information to householders
     Simplifies the process for applying for financial assistance by making available for
       repairs only 2 types of means tested assistance aimed at vulnerable, low income
       households
     All financial assistance will be subject to recycling if a property is sold within
       specified time frames (subject to conditions) creating a revolving fund to assist
       future households.

   It is recognised that further development work is required during the nine month period
    of this policy:
     Completion of a Housing Needs Survey
     Making available the first set of non-commercial loans/equity release products by
         the end of the year



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




       Incorporate requirements of the Housing Act 2003 as required in relation to the
        licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, and the Councils Accreditation Scheme.
       Provide financial assistance to landlords to bring their properties up to the decent
        homes standard.
       Introduction of financial assistance to assist elderly, vulnerable and disabled people
        to bring their property up to the decent homes standard.
       Explore Area Action as an alternative or in conjunction with providing assistance for
        the renovation of individual properties.
       Review the existing group repair scheme to possibly include within any Area Action
        initiatives.
       Expand the provisions of the Home Maintenance Strategy.
       Explore additional opportunities with our partners such as the Centre for
        Sustainable Energy for leverage of funding to assist in achieving the decent homes
        standard in the private owner occupied and rented stock.

   The ongoing development work during the next nine months will be incorporated into
    the revised policy in March 2005.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Introduction

This policy is an interim policy which replaces the existing Private Sector Housing Renewal
Policy 2003 - 2004. It is an interim policy for the reasons of ongoing product development
and legislative changes which will have a direct affect on this policy at the end of the
financial year.

Like the outgoing policy it has not been developed in isolation but reflects policies at a
national, regional and local level as identified in Mendip's general Housing Strategy 2002-
2005/6. The general Housing Strategy identifies key priorities to ensure that the district
meets future housing requirements with the key national aim;

       'to offer everyone the opportunity of a decent home and so promote social
       cohesion, well being and self dependence'.
       The way forward for Housing (Governments housing policy statement published December 2000).

The Private Sector Renewal Policy forms a fundamental part of this role.

The main priorities of the Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy will continue to be the
elimination of risks due to disrepair in all dwellings, with prioritisation of any financial
assistance towards vulnerable groups. It recognises that, in principal, owners should be
responsible for the maintenance of their own properties, but also acknowledges that there
are some groups within the population where assistance will be necessary to secure safe
and decent housing for Mendip residents. The long-term aims of the policy continue to be
built on the foundations of, the improvement of living conditions for Mendip residents in
existing properties, and assistance in creating new accommodation to meet housing need.

The local authority will continue to work closely with its private sector renewal partners;
Mendip Care & Repair, The Centre for Sustainable Energy, Somerset Social Services and
the Somerset Local Authorities Partnership in the operation of this policy. A full list of
consultees for this policy is provided in Appendix A.

The policy endeavours to address Mendip's communities’ needs and priorities as identified
in our general Housing Strategy by up to date local research. This research included the
2001 Housing Needs Assessment and 2004 House Condition Survey. The Housing Needs
Assessment is presently being up dated and information will be available for the review of
this policy at the end of the year. The key priorities of this policy have been up dated to
reflect the findings of the recently completed House Condition Survey. The latest
information on ward data has also provided valuable information.

There are several products being developed at the moment to bring properties up to the
Governments new standard for decent homes. This includes low interest loans for
vulnerable, elderly and disabled people, financial assistance to landlords, and additional
packages under the Council’s Home Maintenance Strategy.

This policy will therefore operate from July 2004 until the end of the financial year, and will
be reviewed when the new up to date Housing Need data is available, and the new
products are ready to be incorporated into the policy.



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




The Regulatory Reform Housing Assistance Order 2002

Mendip District Council has historically provided means tested grant assistance to owner
occupiers or tenants to repair dwellings. These grants include -

   Renovation Grants for unfit properties – subject to a test of financial resources
   Disrepair grants for properties likely to fall into unfitness within 5 years – subject to a
    test of financial resources
   Community Assistance – available to elderly or disabled residents on income related
    benefits for minor repairs

It has also provided grants for disabled adaptations,

   Mandatory Disabled Facilities Grants, for specific works to enable disabled residents to
    remain in their homes – subject to a test of financial resources.
   Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants, limited number of small scale grants for works
    which fall outside the mandatory category – subject to a financial test of resources.

Landlords of empty properties have also been encouraged to bring dwellings back into
residential use through Mendip’s Empty Homes Strategy. This strategy includes advice,
links with social landlords and the following financial assistance,

   Empty Property Grants, targeted to provide accommodation in high need areas at
    below market rent levels
   Conversion Grants, grants to convert empty properties into more than one unit of
    accommodation.

The local authority has also completed three area based group repair schemes under the
Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. These schemes have renovated
a total of 32 properties in areas of high density, poor condition housing.

The Order

The Regulatory Reform Housing Assistance order 2002 came into force on 18 th July 2002.
This legislation provided greater freedom for local authorities to review their private sector
renewal policies to enable improvements to privately owned dwellings

Key areas within the new legislation are;

   Repeals sections within the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996
    relating to existing Grant provision thus providing the opportunity for local authorities to
    tailor future financial assistance to local needs.

   Streamlines the provisions relating to area renewal schemes.

   Makes minor changes to the provisions relating to Disabled Facilities Grants.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




   Enables local authorities to give financial assistance to persons directly or to provide
    assistance through a third party such as a Home Improvement agency, specialist
    financial intermediary or other special purchase vehicle.

   Gives local authorities wider opportunities to consider priority housing renewal client
    groups and areas, and for new policies to target these priorities.

   Required Local Authorities to have a Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy in place
    by 18th July 2003 when existing legislation was repealed.

The following section identifies the key strategic drivers in the development of both the
Private Sector Renewal policy 2003 – 2004 and the present interim policy.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Policy Foundations

This policy is based on findings from the Housing Stock Condition Survey 2004, and
from the Housing Needs Survey 2001. It also links closely to the priorities identified in
Mendip’s general Housing Strategy 2002 – 2005/6.

Key Community Information

This information has been identified on a district basis from sources referred to in our
general Housing Strategy. The key areas impacting on the Private Sector Renewal Policy
include:

   The rate of unfitness within the district is 3.4%. Most of the unfitness is concentrated
    within the older housing stock.
   The cost of immediate repairs to make the dwellings fit for human habitation is £14.4
    million
   The Council faces a potential grants demand in excess of £3.6 million for means tested
    grants that are targeted at unfitness alone.
   33% of households are aged over 60, and 81% of those households need immediate
    repairs
   15.5% of households contain at least one disabled person. A forecast of £11 million is
    required to adapt properties for disabled people.
   9.4% of the private rented sector is unfit for human habitation
   , and the total cost to make them fit is £3.2 million.
   17% of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) were unfit, and would cost £0.5
    million to make fit excluding fire precautions.
   3.5% of the stock was found to be vacant.
   25% of properties in Mendip are identified as being in poor repair (Housing Needs
    Survey 2001)
   30% of households in Mendip have an annual gross income of less than £10000.
    (Housing Needs Survey 2001)
   27% of households in Mendip contain someone suffering from a long term illness,
    health problem, mental health problem or disability. (Housing Needs Survey 2001).

The above information suggests that there are existing levels of housing stock unfitness
and disrepair which require review, and that there exist low income and vulnerable
households. These households may be living in substandard homes which are a risk to the
health of the occupiers.
In addition, further key information includes:

   The annual housing requirement projected for Mendip indicates a shortfall of 639
    properties per annum. (Housing strategy 2001-2005/6)
    These housing requirements are shown below,




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




    Tenure                                      Predicted Annual Shortfall/Excess

    Full cost market housing                    - 511
    Low cost market housing                     - 154
    Reduced cost market housing                  - 67
    Social rented housing                       -124
    Private rented housing                      +217
    All Housing                                 - 639

   Health and Social Needs Data indicates the following priority deprivation areas within
    Mendip; Frome - Keyford, Frome-Welshmill, Glastonbury-St Benedict’s, Glastonbury-St
    John’s, Glastonbury-St Edmund’s. This data can be used to target assistance to those
    most in need.

   The Government set an ambitious target that by 31 st March 2004 no homeless families
    with children should live in Bed and Breakfast accommodation except in
    emergencies.and even then for no longer than six weeks. There is a recognised
    shortage of good quality private rented property to use for temporary accommodation in
    preference to Bed and Breakfast.

   The work within this Policy fits within Mendip District Council’s Strategic Priorities
    2001 – 2004/5 under Corporate Priority 12. Housing Strategy Action Plan. The priority
    being to deliver realistic solutions to the housing needs and problems across the
    district.

There are also other development areas which impact directly on this policy and its future
development. These are as follows:

Supporting People/Home Improvement Agency Review

Mendip's Home Improvement Agency, Mendip Care & Repair, is a key partner in the
delivery of private sector renewal assistance in Mendip. From April 2003 there were
changes to the way in which the Agency was funded. Some of their funding now comes via
Supporting People a new government initiative to co-ordinate housing related support to
vulnerable people. Supporting People covers elderly, vulnerable and disabled clients.
Mendip District Council has ensured that any revised structure did not effect delivery of
care services to the elderly and disabled via the Agency.

The Government recently completed a review of Home Improvement Agencies (HIA’s)
across England and Wales. One of the key findings to come from the report was that there
was not widespread coverage of HIA’s across the country. Therefore the Government
through Supporting People have provided funding for the creation of new HIA’s and the
development of existing ones. Mendip Care and Repair is a major player in Somerset. It is
the only HIA that is independent, and is very successful. From the end of the year, the HIA
in South Somerset will be expanded into Taunton Deane, and the Sedgemoor Care and
Repair Agency will be expanded into West Somerset. This was achievable from funding
through the Supporting people bid. The ultimate aim is to establish one management
structure for HIA coverage across the whole of Somerset within the next five years


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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Comprehensive Performance Assessment

Mendip District Council recently underwent a Comprehensive Performance Assessment
(CPA) review. The purpose of the review was to assess its performance as a local
authority Part of the assessment was concentrated on a review of Balancing Housing
Markets within the local authority area. District Council’s can make a positive impact on
aligning the supply and demand for local housing. Where under-supply is evident (as in
Mendip), strategic approaches should be used to deliver new housing through the
council’s own housing and planning activities and in partnership with other agencies
including Housing Associations, the construction industry, other landlords and land
owners. This Private Sector Renewal Policy contributes to Mendip’s role in impacting on
housing markets, including the reuse of empty properties, and working with private sector
landlords to provide accommodation for those in housing need. The Council is awaiting the
feedback from the review which will be available in the Autumn. The outcome will provide
the opportunity to consider our role in the housing market and any improvements in
performance, which can be made in the Council's housing functions. and help to shape the
new policy.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System

Currently individual properties are assessed against a level of fitness as determined by the
fitness standard, contained in Section 604 of the Housing Act 1985. The local authority has
a duty to take action if a property fails to reach a level of fitness. The fitness standard is
due to be replaced by a new Housing Health and Safety Rating System which will use
officer's professional judgement to identify hazards within a property and assess the
severity of risk associated with each hazard. The Housing Bill 2003 is now published. This
policy therefore takes into consideration the expected transfer to the new rating system in
2005. This will also link to the Governments decent homes standard.

Decent Homes

The Government recently issued guidance to local authorities requiring them to publish
policies on tackling non decent homes in the private owner occupied and private rented
sector. A property is considered a decent home if it is;
 Is fit for human habitation
 In reasonable repair
 Has modern facilities
 Is thermally comfortable

The Council is obliged to identify the numbers of non decent homes and set a baseline
from which to set targets. The Government requires that the local authority works towards
achieving the 70 percent target that they set for making homes decent by 2010. This is to
be through a combination of advice, financial assistance and enforcement. Mendip has
already established the levels of non decent homes in the private sector through the recent
House Condition Survey. The Council has also drafted a Decent Homes Strategy which is
out to consultation. The strategy sets targets and actions for the authority to achieve the
standard. There will be an additional burden on the authority in undertaking the work both
in terms of staff and fiscal constraints. Funding has been set aside in the Capital
Programme for both the loans scheme and decent homes grants. The decent homes


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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




grants are presently under development and will be introduced later this year along with
the loans. They will ten be incorporated within the next Private Sector Housing Renewal
Policy to be introduced in April 2005.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s)

It is recognised that properties accommodating more than one household can pose a
greater risk to their occupants should fitness and fire precaution standards not be met.

Mendip District Council has a target to inspect and improve a minimum of 10 HMO’s each
year, this is generally achieved through complaint led investigation. Proactive risk
assessment of the HMO’s within the district has identified over 120 properties. The new
Housing Bill 2003 includes the introduction of licensing of larger high-risk HMO’s.

This change in legislation will have a direct impact on the resources within Housing
Regeneration to introduce the licensing scheme. It is also possible that the requirement to
licence may discourage landlords from renting, producing a shortage of housing. It is
intended to continue with the advice and enforcement role provided to tenants and owners
of HMO’s, however no financial assistance is currently provided for the upgrade of these
properties to meet minimum standards. This area is currently under review and provision
for financial assistance will be incorporated into this interim policy or the policy in April
2005 depending on when the licensing legislation comes into force and the demand
generated by enforcement activity. It is recognised that this category of housing provides
important affordable accommodation mainly to young or socially or economically
disadvantaged occupants. The maintenance and improvement of HMO’s will, therefore,
continue to form part of this policy.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Housing Assistance

It is the Council's intention to continue to facilitate improvements in private stock condition
to protect the health of Mendip residents. It is widely recognised that maintaining and
improving the private sector stock reduces the pressure on other areas such as social
housing resources by enabling people to remain in their own homes for longer.
Our approved Housing Investment Programme (below) sets out a 3 year indicative plan for
the private sector housing capital programme.

There have recently been changes made in which housing capital resources are allocated.
The new system involves the Regional Housing Boards making recommendations on
capital allocations based upon regional priorities. One such example is the allocation of
funding to the Council through a successful bid to Government Office South West (GOSW)
for funding to improve the decency of housing in the private sector. The opportunity to bid
was a reflection of GOSW ‘s priority to meet the Government targets for the decent homes
standard. The ring fencing has also been removed from the housing Capital Pot. Below is
the proposed Capital Programme for the next three years.



              Private Sector             2004/05               2005/06     2006/07

              a) Repair                  400,000               300,000     300,000

              b) Decent Homes     120,000                      120,000
              c) Group Repair     140,000                      150,000     160,000
              d) Home improvement £88,000                      88,000      18,000
              loans

              e) Energy                  50,000                50,000      50,000
                                         included in above



              f) Empty Homes             100,000               100,000     100,000
                                         included in above



              g) Disabled Facilities 370,000                   390,000     400,000
              Grants



Table 1
Approved Housing Investment Programme - Private Sector Housing Capital Programme




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




The Council agrees that with regard to the implementation of this policy:

   Resources and capital supporting this policy are inherently limited and will be
    appropriated with due fiscal prudence and control.

   Resources should not be directed to those who can reasonably afford to undertake
    work for themselves.

   Resources should be directed fairly in relation to the homeowners capacity to help
    themselves - therefore all assistance should be subject to an approved form of means
    testing.

   That in order to obtain enhanced benefit from the private sector housing capital
    programme, certain categories of financial assistance will be repayable on the sale of
    the property (within 5 or 20 years dependant on the scale of grant) to provide a
    revolving fund for assistance (subject to exemptions - see Appendix D).
    This revolving fund will allow an element of recycling capital to enable greater numbers
    of households to benefit from financial assistance in future years.

Housing Assistance Delivery by Working With Partners

We consider that the greatest impact in the community can be achieved by working in
partnership where appropriate.

The following key partnerships have been developed:

   Somerset Local Authorities Partnership

    Comprising of the 5 district Councils within Somerset, staff resources have been
    pooled for development of private sector housing renewal policies.
    Where appropriate, consistency on procedures and standards is sought, i.e. common
    test of resources is confirmed. This group also commands a single point of contact for
    external agencies and increased brokering power.

   Wessex Reinvestment Trust

    The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) Order 2002 enables local authorities to
    engage third parties to provide assistance on their behalf. One of the intentions of
    these partnership arrangements is to bridge the financial gap between local authority
    financial assistance and householders' abilities to fund improvements themselves.
    Currently there exists very few organisations able to offer financial loans/equity
    release to low or moderate income homeowners on a non-commercial basis. Those in
    existence operate over a limited geographical area and have not been found to be
    suitable for use in Mendip. However, Mendip District Council, as part of the
    Consortium of ten Local Authorities which includes all of the Somerset Authorities,
    North Somerset, BANES’s, Bristol City Council and South Glousteshire, is continuing
    to work with the Wessex Reinvestment Trust to develop loans aimed towards these
    client groups by the end of the year. These loan products would work as part of the


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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




    Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy to provide a more comprehensive range of
    assistance to Mendip residents. The loan products will be incorporated into the next
    policy in the New Year.

   Mendip Care & Repair

    The Mendip Home Improvement Agency is a key partner in the delivery of our policy.
    It is part funded by the district council, and plays a crucial role in assisting our more
    vulnerable households. The agency not only works on behalf of its client group, the
    elderly or disabled, to access financial assistance from the local authority, and other
    charitable sources, but also provides the following range of services to this client
    group to support them in remaining in their own homes.

           All local authority Disabled Facilities Grants are administered via Mendip Care &
            Repair
           Caseworkers undertake comprehensive property audits to check home safety,
            repair and advise on the best solutions.
           A handyperson scheme exists to carry out minor works.
           A home decorating service is available.
           A gardening service is available.
           Client benefit checks are undertaken.
           Advice and signposting to other voluntary and statutory agencies is provided.
           They will also be involved in the delivery of loan products.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Assistance Available

The assistance available through this policy aims to ensure that all Mendip residents have
access to a decent affordable home, in line with our Housing Strategy, Decent Housing
aim –

"to ensure homes across all tenures are well maintained and energy efficient and also well
managed in the rented sector".

This policy and the assistance detailed within it will operate until the end of March 2005.
The policy will be reviewed and updated at this time when up to date housing need data is
available and the new products being developed are ready.

Area Based Renewal and Regeneration

Mendip District Council has a good track record for delivering area based Group Repair
schemes, having completed 3 successful Group Repair projects. We will continue with our
existing programme of group repair.The programme for the duration of this policy is:

      To complete a further group repair scheme in Horton Street, Frome comprising 11
       properties. The project has began.
      To include group repair with other housing renewal options across the district, with
       the emphasis on future projects being linked to wards identified as deprivation
       priority areas. The House Condition Survey identified several areas within Mendip
       for Area Action, which could include a Group Repair scheme. Further appraisal will
       be under way to determine whether Area Action is appropriate for those areas.

Appendix B details the criteria for area based assistance.

Assistance to Individual Householders

Our Group Repair projects target resources in areas with the greatest concentration of
poor housing. However, this does not eliminate the incidence of residents outside these
areas requiring support for disrepair problems to their properties.

Appendix C illustrates the structured response to individual requests for repairs
assistance.

i) Financial Assistance

This assistance is based on targeting resources to those unable to fund repairs
themselves and who are at the greatest risk. The two types of financial assistance
available are:

   Community Assistance –available for small scale repairs, targeting vulnerable low
    income households, maximum grant £4000 plus fees.
   Safety Assistance – means tested assistance available to eliminate acute health risks
    to owner occupied properties, maximum grant £10 000 plus fees.



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix D details the criteria relevant for each type of assistance. A professional officer
will assess the works eligible for each type of assistance.

In order to make improved use of the capital available for private sector renewal,
conditions are applied to both forms of assistance for repayment of the grant in full if the
property is sold within:

   5 years of completion for Community Assistance
   20 years of completion for Safety Assistance (larger scale grant)

This reclaiming of assistance will allow capital to be recycled on an ongoing basis, to
provide investment in the housing stock in future years. Exceptions for the condition of
repayment are:

      where the occupier is moving into residential care as his or her main residence.
      Where there is insufficient equity in the property to enable repayment and that the
       relevant person would suffer financial hardship if the assistance was repaid.
      Where the occupier is moving for medical reasons.

All exceptions to repayment to be assessed and agreed by the Housing Service Manager
in conjunction with the Portfolio Councillor.

ii) Advice

It is acknowledged that where financial assistance is not available, the local authority is in
a position to assist more able households with repair advice. This advice is also relevant to
successful applicants who receive financial assistance as part of the works package. The
advice package includes:

   A Home Maintenance advice pack provided to every enquirer, containing advice on
    basic home maintenance to prevent the onset of disrepair.

   A bespoke property specific maintenance service is being developed at the moment,
    in conjunction with other advice-giving agencies or services.

   A leaflet drop will be undertaken in the priority areas identified in the Health and Social
    Needs survey providing information on Home Maintenance and the Private Sector
    Housing Renewal Policy.

iii) Energy Efficiency

The local authority has a target under the Home Energy Conservation Act 1985, to
improve the energy efficiency in domestic properties by 30% by the year 2006.

In order to achieve this target, every opportunity must be taken to promote and provide
energy efficiency measures within Mendip households.

Appendix E illustrates how individual enquirers receive energy advice and assistance.
Much of this assistance is to be delivered via the Mendip Energy Savers service. This


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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




service is provided by our partner the Centre for Sustainable Energy and comprises a
freephone helpline or postal service for property specific energy advice for Mendip
residents. The service signposts enquirers to any financial assistance which may be
relevant, and provides advice on local installers. Mendip Energy Savers can be contacted
on the following freephone telephone number – 0800 512 012. This service provides
advice to over 400 Mendip households each year.

In addition, a new Warm and Well grant scheme has been developed, funded from the
private sector housing Capital Programme, in conjunction with partner local authorities in
the Somerset and Avon Energy Group (SAVES). The Warm and Well scheme provides
financial assistance (up to £2,500) to provide measures for vulnerable households who are
experiencing fuel poverty but find themselves ineligible for existing government energy
efficiency grants. The scheme is run on the local authority's behalf via Mendip Energy
Savers.

In conjunction with the energy measures contained in this policy, the feasibility of a further
Energy Grant is being investigated. This grant would provide a mini central heating system
in inadequately heated properties for vulnerable clients on income related benefits living in
fuel poverty areas within Mendip. It is acknowledged that additional winter deaths occur in
the UK, many attributed to inadequate heating. This is an area where it is felt financial
assistance could benefit our most vulnerable clients in Mendip, to assist in maintaining
health whilst also meeting energy efficiency targets.

Assistance Within The Private Rented Sector

The Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy aims to assist comprehensively across all
tenures within the district. It includes, therefore, services relating to empty properties and
enforcement.

i)     Advice

Housing Regeneration Staff provide a point of contact for landlords requiring housing
standards advice. An important part of this role is the education of new and existing
landlords regarding current housing legislation and minimum standards. Privately rented
accommodation provides homes for many residents who are unable, or choose not to
enter into owner occupation. It is essential, therefore, to work with landlords to ensure this
accommodation does not pose a health risk to its occupiers.

ii) Enforcement

Mendip District Council has duties under the Housing Acts to take action on unfit
properties. A copy of our enforcement policy is contained in Appendix F. On average a
total of 55 housing condition complaints are received each year. These complaints will
continue to be dealt with by the Environmental Health Officers within the Housing
Regeneration Team.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




iii) Empty Properties

Mendip District Council has an award winning Empty Homes strategy, successful in
bringing back into use over 60 empty properties since its launch in 1999. This strategy
contributes to Mendip's general Housing Strategy aim for access and choice in housing
which is

"to continually assess housing and support needs across all tenures, ensuring there are
enough homes to meet demand now and in the future; and to provide a high quality
housing service to minimise homelessness".

It is currently being updated and is out to consultation. It will be available in its final format
later in the year.

Unused properties within the district are a valuable resource, the Lead Officer for Empty
Properties within our Housing Regeneration Team will continue to work within the
guidance of the Empty Homes Strategy in conjunction with private landlords and registered
social landlords to provide much needed affordable housing for our local residents. There
are many households within the district seeking this accommodation type.

Part of the Empty Homes Strategy includes financial assistance to landlords to :

a) convert empty premises into more than one unit of accommodation -Conversion Grant.
b) improve the standard of existing individual empty homes in order for them to be used
   again -Empty Property Grant.

The amount of grant available is calculated according to the following factors:

   The suitability of accommodation type to meet the housing need
   How long the property has been empty
   Environmental benefit.

It is also dependent on the landlord's track record, and how the property is to be let, i.e.
the grant amount is increased if the property is let to persons from the housing needs
register and/or via a registered social landlord. Appendix G contains the calculation to
determine the grant amount.

On completion of the grant the accommodation created will be fit for human habitation
(linked to the new Housing Health and Safety Rating System when this comes into force)
and should be let at below market rent levels.




                                               17
Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




iv) Financial Assistance to Landlords.

The Council provides on a limited basis assistance to single let dwellings where the
property is unfit and the historic rents have been unusually low. The assistance is to make
the property fit, and to be let at less than market rent. The Council also has nomination
rights over the property.

With the introduction of licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, the Council is looking
at introducing financial packages to landlords to assist them in bringing their properties up
to the decent homes standard. The granting of any assistance from the Council will be
subject to the usual conditions and control measures. The property will also have to be let
at a reasonable rent, and the Council will also have nomination rights. The aim is to
introduce these new types of products in the New Year, when the Council has identified
the demand and established the protocol.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Disabled Facilities Grants

The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) Order 2002 did not repeal legislation relating
to mandatory Disabled Facility Grants. There is a Government review under way on these
type of grants. However the Council will not know the findings of the review until the
Autumn. In the meantime, Mendip will continue to administer these grants in accordance
with relevant legislation. Appendix H outlines the criteria for grant eligibility, which are for a
maximum of £25,000.

Disabled Facilities Grants are available to all people with disabilities living in the district,
subject to a needs assessment by an Occupational Therapist (Social Services) and
provided that the works are necessary and appropriate as specified by legislation. The
grants aim to support disabled persons remaining in their own homes. This area of work
fits with the general Housing Strategy aim for Care and Support

"to ensure that the residents of Mendip have access across all tenures to care and support
to enable them to live independently"

It should be noted that due to the demand for this type of assistance, all referrals from
occupational therapists will continue to be point scored in terms of priority need to target
the limited resources to those most in need first.

In addition to the continuation of mandatory DFG's the local authority will allow an
application for assistance falling outside of the mandatory categories of works in limited
circumstances. Appendix G details the policy for such discretionary DFG's.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Management and Delivery

The implementation of this policy will be undertaken by the Housing Regeneration Team
(located in the Area Regeneration Business Unit) in conjunction with our relevant housing
partners. The structure for delivery is illustrated in Appendix J.

The Policy builds on the service provision provided under previous Private Sector Renewal
Policies. Appendix K details our commitment to customer satisfaction and reflects the level
of service we aim to achieve.

There are key responsibilities in the delivery of this policy, these are detailed below:

Information and Advice

Officers within Housing Regeneration and, where relevant, at Mendip Care & Repair will
be responsible for providing home maintenance advice to householders.
In addition, specific property standards advice will be provided to landlords via the officers
within Housing Regeneration.

Eligibility for Financial Assistance

Officers within Housing Regeneration and at Mendip Care & Repair will be responsible for
ensuring residents access the most suitable form of assistance relevant to their financial
circumstances and the condition of the property.

Enquiries Falling Outside the Requirements for Financial Assistance

Any request for consideration to approve financial assistance outside of the criteria set in
this policy must be considered by the Housing Service Manager in conjunction with the
Portfolio Councillor. Only in exceptional circumstances will any such request be
considered.

Financial Assistance, Approval of Works Over the Specified Grant Limit

Any request for approval of financial assistance over the limits set in this policy must be
considered by the Housing Service Manager in conjunction with the Portfolio Councillor.
Only in exceptional circumstances will any such request be considered.

Approval of Unforeseen Items of Work Within Financial Assistance

Once works have commenced on site it is sometimes the case that work items which could
not have been foreseen on initial inspection are identified. In this circumstance, provided
the Environmental Health Officer/Housing Regeneration Officer is satisfied that the
additional work items are genuine unforeseens, financial assistance over the financial
limits set in this policy can be approved by the Environmental Health Officer/Housing
Regeneration Officer up to £5000. Any unforeseen over £5000 to be approved by the
Housing Service Manager .




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




The Future

It is recognised that the commitment to improving private sector living conditions in Mendip
is an ongoing process, responding to changing stock, legislation and housing needs.

The Regulatory Reform Housing Assistance Order 2002 has provided this local authority
with greater flexibility to deliver housing renewal services to address local issues.

During the period of this nine month extension to the existing Policy, ongoing development
work will continue in the Housing Regeneration Team, in conjunction with its partners, to
ensure the development of Mendip’s Private Sector Renewal Policy.

Key areas of review include:

   Respond to the requirements of the new Housing Act 2003
    - new Housing Health and Safety Rating System replacing the fitness standard
    - licensing of HMO’s (with a review of HMO assistance)
    - Accreditation of privately rented accommodation
    - Establishment of the Private Sector Leasing Scheme
    - Introduction of assistance to landlords in direct response to HMO licensing
   The establishment with our partners of non-commercial loans/equity release
   Review of the existing group repair scheme and its involvement in Area Action.
   Development of Decent Homes Assistance.
   Continue to work with the Somerset Local Authorities Partnership on private sector
    housing renewal issues
   Contribute to the ongoing process of Home Improvement Agencies development
    across Somerset and the Country.
   Review the type and scale of energy efficiency grants available within Mendip
   Review and develop products under the Home Maintenance Strategy

The work under this policy area will continue to reflect the over all key priorities within
Mendips Housing Strategy 2002 – 2005/6, and will provide assistance in meeting the
housing needs of our communities.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Contacts

Anyone wishing to apply for assistance under this policy should contact Housing
Regeneration by:


 Telephone:              01749 341490

 Writing to:             Housing Regeneration
                         Mendip District Council
                         Cannards Grave Road
                         SHEPTON MALLET
                         Somerset
                         BA4 5BT




Any person wishing to comment on the contents of this policy please do so by writing to
the Housing Service Manager at the above address.




                                            22
Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




                                        Appendices




                                           23
Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix A - Consultees

The following consultees have contributed to this document:


   Centre for Sustainable Energy

   Mendip Care & Repair

   Mendip Housing Limited

   Mendip Housing Renewal Reform Steering Group

   Mendip PCT

   Mendip YMCA

   Somerset Social Services

   Somerset Local Authorities Partnership: comprising Mendip District Council, Taunton
    Deane Borough Council, Sedgemoor District Council, South Somerset District Council,
    West Somerset District Council.




                                            ii
Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix B - Group Repair Works
Introduction
A local housing authority like Mendip District Council may carry out works to more than
one property at the same time in a locality. These are known as Group Repair Schemes.
These Schemes are carried out to give a block or terrace of properties a facelift with the
aim of not only bringing the properties to a reasonable standard of repair and ensure
structural stability, but also to visually improve the area in which they are situated. The
Schemes are primarily concerned with the exterior of buildings but can also include
internal works where the risk is such that the causative problem requires attention that is
best carried out within the Scheme.

Eligibility
Any person is eligible to participate in a group repair scheme (assisted participant) if at the
date of the approval of the scheme the applicant has an owner’s interest in a dwelling or
other premises comprised in a building to which the scheme relates. This can also include
landlords of tenanted properties (except Registered Social Landlords) within the block or
terrace so that the overall aim of area regeneration is better achieved. A title deed
certificate will be required to verify the owners interest in the property.

The persons who are eligible to participate in a group scheme do so by signifying scheme
consent in the form of an authorisation. Schemes are tendered for and costs apportioned
between participants. Applicants are means tested unless they prefer not to reveal their
financial details where they sign up to a basic amount of assistance of 50% of cost outside
of Renewal Areas and 75% within. There is a 15% agency fee payable to the Council for
organising, procuring and managing all aspects of the Scheme and the building contract
and this is included in the final costs for the applicant to consider.

Grant Conditions
The conditions of participation in a Group Repair Scheme as an assisted participant that if
at any time after signifying scheme consent and before the end of the 5 year protected
period the property is sold, or other Grant Conditions broken, the owner has to pay the
Council on demand the balance of the cost if the Council demands that, or a lesser
amount. Therefore, the Grant Conditions remain as they were prior to this new policy. All
grants under such conditions are registered as a local land charge.

Recommendations
Group Repair Schemes require the resources of a full time officer for the duration of the
planning, implementation and management of the Scheme and the building. The only
recommended change to the policy is that rather than Mendip District Council targeting a
Scheme each year it should allocate its resources towards the greatest need within the
district at the time without the pressure of having committed to a Scheme. No other
changes are deemed necessary regarding policy on group repair if chosen as the most
preferable option of achieving the delivery of the Renewal Area outcomes and addressing
Housing Market failure.
The options appraisal process to be followed is as per guidance contained within the
Housing Renewal Guidance Circular.




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    Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




    Appendix C - Assistance To Individual Households (Repairs)

      Repair Enquiry                                                               Refer to
(homeowner/qualifying tenant)                   Elderly or disabled          Mendip Care & Repair




    Initial enquiry questionnaire completed
   regarding financial information and repair
                      items




                                                                                    Enquiries by Care &
   Test of household resources undertaken                                          Repair for their clients




  Household resources deemed insufficient to                  Household resources deemed sufficient to
                 fund works                                                 fund works




                                                                        Advice provided under Home
                                                                            Maintenance Strategy
                                                                       - repairs
                                                                       - energy efficiency




 Community Assistance from local                                  Safety Assistance from local
 authority (for small scale repairs                               authority (for repairs posing
 available for elderly, disabled,                                 imminent risk to the householder -
 vulnerable, households with children                             maximum grant £10,000 + fees)
 under 16 - on income related benefit or
 with nil contribution) - maximum £4,000
 + fees



  Referral to Warm & Well Energy Grant                            Home Energy Advice visit by
  scheme for energy efficiency measures                           Energy Advice Officer - £500 max
                                                                  available for insulation measures
                                                  iv
Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix D - Community Assistance
To qualify for assistance an applicant must:

a)   Be aged 18 or over on the date of the application;

b)   Be an owner-occupier or a private tenant, or an occupant who occupies the
     dwelling under a right of exclusive occupation granted for his/her life or for a
     period of more than five years;

c)   Must have owned or lived in the property subject to assistance for a period of
     more than 12 months.

d)   Be elderly (over 60 years), disabled or vulnerable or be part of a household in
     which there children under the age of 16.

e)   Be on an income related benefit, i.e.

         Income Support
         Housing Benefit
         Council Tax Benefit
         Disabled Persons Tax Credit
         Income based Job Seekers Allowance

f)   Have the power or duty to carry out the works;

The type of items that can be grant aided include:

Repairs

All repairs to be assessed by a professional officer.
Works will be to secure the basic fabric of the property from the entry of wind, rain or to
protect occupants from immediate exposure to insecure building elements i.e.

Roof repairs where water ingress is evident
Window and doors repair/replacement
Renewal of dangerous defective wiring
Replacement of defective plumbing
Remedy of penetrating or rising dampness
Dry rot treatment

(Maintenance or decoration works will not be covered by this assistance)




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Lifeline Installation

Installation of a lifeline and associated electrical and telephone works required for
installation.
To enhance the safety, security and well-being of elderly or disabled residents.
Grants referred via Mendip Housing Limited, Supported Housing Team.

Disabled Person's Adaptations

For small scale adaptations required under a fast track system, to enable disabled people
to remain in their homes as comfortably and independently as possible.
All works to be assessed by an Occupational Therapist and referred to the local authority
and Mendip Care & Repair. All works to be reasonable and practicable.

Conditions relating to Community Assistance include

      The grant limit is £4,000 plus fees on any one application
      There can be no further Community Assistance within 3 years of completion of a
       previous grant
      If the property is sold within 5 years following completion the full Community
       Assistance amount is repayable to the local authority. All receipts being recycled
       into the private section housing capital programme.

       A land charge will be placed on the property to this effect following Community
       Assistance completion. Exceptions to repayment are:

       -   Where the occupier is moving into residential care as his or her main residence

       -   Where there is insufficient equity in the property to enable repayment and that
           the relevant person would suffer financial hardship if the assistance was repaid.

       -   Where the occupier is moving for medical reasons.

All exceptions to repayment to be authorised by the Housing Service Manager in
conjunction with the Portfolio Councillor.

 All Community Assistance applicants will be referred to Mendip Energy Savers for
energy efficiency advice and direction to any further energy grants available.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Safety Assistance

To qualify for assistance an applicant must:

a)   Be aged 18 or over on the date of the application;

b)   Be an owner-occupier or a private tenant, or an occupant who occupies the
     dwelling under a right of exclusive occupation granted for his/her life or for a
     period of more than five years;

c)   Be subject to the test of resources detailed in the Housing Renewal Grants
     Regulations 1996 (as amended). In many cases applicants do not receive 100%
     of the finance required for repair works.

d)   The applicant must have owned and occupied the property for a minimum of
     three years, unless the property was built prior to 1945.

e)   Certificates will be required to confirm the ownership of the property, and the
     owners consent for works in the case of a property occupied under exclusive
     occupation for over 5 years where the applicant is not the owner.

The type of works that can be grant aided must cause an acute health risk to the
occupants, likely to result in major harm/death, as assessed by a professional officer, i.e.

Dangerous electrical installations
Structural failure - walls, floors, stairs
Severe dampness
No sanitary provision
No hot water provision
Dangerous gas installations
Serious disrepair – roofs, windows


Conditions relating to Safety Assistance include:

      All properties subject to Safety Assistance will receive an energy advice visit from
       the Home Energy Conservation Officer. Up to £500 will be approved for the
       insulation measures recommended. These measures will be undertaken as part of
       the Safety Assistance.

      The grant limit is £10,000 + fees on any one application (the ability to approve
       assistance over the grant limit exists in exceptional circumstances for structural
       problems posing an imminent risk to occupiers, all assistance over the grant limit to
       be authorised by the Housing Regeneration Manager).


      There can be no further Safety Assistance within 3 years of completion of a previous
       grant.



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




      If the property is sold within 20 years following completion, the full Safety Assistance
       amount is repayable to the local authority. All receipts being recycled into the
       Private Sector Housing Capital Programme. This recycling of funds will allow further
       households to benefit from financial assistance in future years.

       A land charge will be placed on the property to this effect following Safety
       Assistance completion. Exceptions to repayment are:

       -   Where the occupier is moving into residential care as his or her main residence

       -   Where there is insufficient equity in the property to enable repayment and that
           the relevant person would suffer financial hardship if the assistance was repaid.

       -   Where the occupier is moving for medical reasons.

All exceptions to repayment to be authorised by the Housing Service Manager in
conjunction with the Portfolio Councillor.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix E -                  Energy Advice Enquiry



            Other repair problems to the             Property in good state of repair
                     property




           Eligible for          Eligible for                  Referred to
           Community               Safety                     Mendip Energy
           Assistance            Assistance                      Savers




         Referred to           Energy Advice                    If eligible
          Warm and             home visit and                  referred to
         Well Scheme           up to £500 for                  Warm and
                                 insulation                   Well scheme
                                 measures




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix F - Housing Enforcement Policy
Our aim is to protect and enhance public health, through healthy housing, by improving the
housing stock within Mendip.

Housing Regeneration Is Responsible For
Enforcement of housing conditions within the private rented sector which includes Houses
In Multiple Occupation.
        Bringing back into use empty homes
        Private rented single units

There are a variety of ways in which the Council can ensure that individuals meet with their
responsibilities including, education, negotiation, advice, guidance, warning letters, formal
notices, works in default and prosecution. The Council believes strongly in working in
partnership with landlords and individuals to improve housing standards. The Council
offers information and advice to those the Council regulates and seek to secure co-
operation whilst avoiding bureaucracy or excessive costs.

This policy sets out the general principles the Council intends to follow in relation to
enforcement and prosecution. The policy will always be evolving as a result of changes in
legislation and demands on the service.

Purpose And Methods Of Enforcement
The primary concern of officers of the Housing Regeneration team is to improve the
housing conditions for individuals within the private rented sector. Most landlords and
individuals are responsible and want to comply with the law. Therefore in most cases the
officer’s role will be to educate, guide and support.

If the Officer finds evidence to suggest that the law is being contravened, they can respond
in various ways. This can either be by an informal or Formal Notice. Notices specify the
works to be carried out in order to comply with the law and a specified time scale in which
to carryout the works. Failure to comply with a Notice results in the Council doing the
works in default, and recovering the expenses incurred as a result of carrying out the
works plus the administration costs. They may also consider prosecution. Notices are an
effective and efficient way of securing compliance without the delay and expense of going
to court.

Principles Of Enforcement
The Council believes in a fair and transparent policy on enforcement. Consistency, and
targeting of enforcement are also essential parts of the Councils policy.

Consistency
This means taking a similar approach in similar circumstances to achieve similar ends.
The Council aims to achieve this consistency in advice tendered, the response to housing
complaints and other incidents, the use of powers and decisions on whether to prosecute.

Consistency however does not mean simple uniformity as that concept only happens in an
ideal world. There are may variables involved in making a decision, which includes the
scale of the problem, the risk to health, the attitude and actions of management,


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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Councillors, and other legal consultees such as the Environment Agency, the history of
previous incidents or breaches, and the legal framework in which the decision has to be
made. Decisions on enforcement action are a matter of professional judgement and the
exercise of discretion.

Transparency
Transparency is important in maintaining public confidence in our ability to regulate. It
means helping those regulated and others, to understand what is expected of them and
what they should expect of us. It also means making clear why an officer intends to, or has
taken enforcement action.

Transparency is an integral part of our role. Where remedial action is necessary it will be
clearly explained in writing the necessary steps to be taken and the timescale in which to
complete. A distinction will be made between best practice advice and legal requirements.

The Council will provide the opportunity for individuals to discuss what is required to
comply with the law before any formal enforcement action is taken, unless there is an
imminent risk to health in which the Council would be required to serve a formal notice
immediately.

Targeting
The Council will target those properties which pose the greatest risk to the health and
safety of the occupant. We will use nationally and locally agreed risk assessment protocols
to assist in targeting our efforts. Currently the national standard is the fitness standard as
defined in The Housing Act 1985 and the local standards are the Somerset standards for
Houses in Multiple Occupations.

Future changes in legislation
 Houses in Multiple Occupation
It is the intention of this present Government to introduce licensing of Houses in Multiple
Occupation (HMO’s) Currently all HMO’s are prioritised based upon risk with those posing
greatest risk inspected first. The new legislation will require landlords to license certain
categories of HMO’s with the Local Authority. The Council will then regulate HMO’s
through the landlord’s license.
 Accreditation of the private rented stock. Work is currently underway on accreditation
     and a scheme has been drafted with the view to having the scheme in place by the end
     of the year.

Fitness Standard
At present individual owner/occupied properties, HMO’s and private rented
accommodation are assessed for their fitness through the use of the fitness standard.
The Council intends to phase in the use of the Hazard and health rating system within the
next year. This system will be used to direct Council assistance to those the Council have
intended to prioritise.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Prosecution
Purpose
The use of the criminal process to institute a prosecution is an important part of
enforcement. The purpose of a successful prosecution is to punish those who commit an
offence, to avoid recurrence and to act as a deterrent to others.

The Council recognises that the institution of a prosecution is a serious matter that should
only be taken after full consideration of the implications and consequences. Decisions
about prosecution will take into account the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Attorney
Generals Guidelines.

Sufficiency of Evidence
A prosecution will not be commenced or continued unless the Council is satisfied that
there is sufficient, admissible and reliable evidence that the offence has been committed
and there is a realistic prospect of conviction.

Public interest
A prosecution has to be in the public interest.

Companies and individuals
Criminal proceedings will be taken against persons responsible for the offence. In the case
of a Company, it is the practice of the Council to prosecute the Company where the
offence resulted from the Company not carrying out their responsibilities in the upkeep of
the property.

Penalties
The existing law gives the courts considerable scope to punish offenders and to deter
others.

Examples of penalties presently available to the courts include:

Magistrates Courts: fines up to level 5 on the standard scale. This is at present £20, 000

The Council will always seek to recover the costs of any Court proceedings.

Factors relating to prosecution

The Council will consider the following factors in deciding whether or not to prosecute:
 Nature of the offence
 Effect of the offence
 Foreseeability of the offence or the circumstances leading to it
 Intent of the offender, individually and/or corporately
 History of offending
 Attitude of the offender
 Deterrent effect of a prosecution, on the offender and others.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




The above is just a few examples and those which apply will depend on the particular
circumstances of each case. This does not mean that all factors must be in favour of
prosecution, rather that the balance is in favour.

Presumption of Prosecution
Where there is sufficient evidence, the Council will normally prosecute in the following
circumstances:

   Incidents of breaches which have significant consequences for the public and the
    environment. The Council treats such incidents seriously and those with the potential
    for significant consequences.
   Operating a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence. When the
    requirement for HMO’s to be licensed comes into force, the Council will be expecting all
    those landlords with HMO’s that fall into the scheme to apply for their licence. Failure
    by landlords to licence their properties following informal requests by the Council will
    result in prosecution.
   Excessive or persistent breaches of regulatory requirements in relation to the same
    premises or site or by the same person
   Failure to comply or to comply adequately with formal remedial requirements. It is
    unacceptable to ignore remedial requirements and unfair to those who do take action to
    comply.
   Reckless disregard for management. It is in the interests of all that irresponsible
    operators are brought into compliance or cease operations.
   Failure to supply information without reasonable excuse or knowingly or recklessly
    supplying false or misleading information. It is essential that lawful requests for
    information by the Council are complied with and that accurate information is always
    supplied to enable informed regulation to be exercised.
   Obstruction of Council staff in carrying out their powers. The Council regards the
    obstruction or assaults on it’s staff while lawfully carrying out their duties as a serious
    matter.

Alternatives To Prosecution
In cases where a prosecution is not the most appropriate course of action, the alternatives
of a formal caution or warning will be considered, the choice depending on the factors
referred to above. Formal cautions will be issued in accordance with Home Office
Guidance.

A formal caution is a written acceptance by an offender that they have committed an
offence. It may be brought to the Courts attention if the offender is convicted of a
subsequent offence.

As with prosecution, additional enforcement mechanisms may also be used in conjunction
with a formal caution or warning e.g. suspension or revocation of licences.

Working With Other Regulators
Where the Council and another enforcement body both have the power to prosecute, the
Council will liase with that other body to ensure effective co-ordination; that any
proceedings instituted are for the most appropriate offence and to avoid inconsistencies.



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Complaints
Dissatisfaction with any actions or decisions can be taken up through the Council’s
complaints procedure which is explained in the leaflet.

Review
This policy will be reviewed periodically.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix G - Landlords' Grant: Empty Property
         DETERMINATION OF LANDLORDS' CONVERSION GRANTS
                (GRANTS AND CONVERSION GRANTS)
ADDRESS OF PROPERTY



LANDLORD
DATE OF CALCULATION


Stage 1 - Points system to consider factors
                                                                               Points
(a)     Suitability of accommodation type to housing needs in the
        locality
                                                        Great Demand             5
                                                        Some Demand              3
                                                        Min Possible =           0

(b)     Suitability of existing property/part property occupation
                                                          Empty for 3 years
                                                 Non-residential Use/Empty       3
                                                                                 0

(c)     Environmental Benefit
                     Pre-1919 or substantial environmental benefit to area       2
                                       Some positive effect likely in area       1
                                                        Little effect likely     0

                                                              Max possible      10
                                                              Min possible      0
        Total number of points


Stage 2 - Application of letting correction factor
Landlord accepting nominations from General Needs Housing Register

       To be managed by a RSL for 5 years                                      0.75
       Landlord with satisfactory record                                       0.50
       Landlord with no track record to assess                                 0.40

Landlord to find own tenants

       Landlord with satisfactory record                                       0.25
       Landlord with no track record to assess                                 0.15
       Landlord with bad track record (knowledge of harassment of tenant,        0
        disrepair of property, formal action by Mendip in the past

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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Stage 3: Determination of Grant Percentage

Points (from Stage 1) x 10 x Letting Correction Factor (from Stage 2) = Grant Percentage




Stage 4: Determination of grant
Cost of eligible works (to a maximum of £15,000) x Grant Percentage = Grant




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix H - Disabled Facilities Grants
The disabled person must be registered or registerable with Social Services. A
recommendation is required from the Occupational Therapist that works are necessary
and appropriate for one or more of the following purposes.


(a)   Facilitating access to and from the dwelling or building by the disabled occupant;
(b)   Making the dwelling or building safe for the disabled occupant;
(c)   Access to the principal family room by the disabled occupant;
(d)   Access to or providing a bedroom for the disabled occupant;
(e)   Access to or providing a room containing a bath or shower for the disabled
      occupant or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility;
(f)   Access to or providing a room containing a WC for the disabled occupant or
      facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility;
(g)   Access to or providing a room containing a wash hand basin for the disabled
      occupant or facilitating the use by the disabled occupant of such a facility;
(h)   Facilitating the preparation and cooking of food by the disabled person;
(i)   Improving or providing a heating system for the disabled person;
(j)   Facilitating the use of power, light or heat by the disabled person by altering same
      or by providing additional means of control;
(k)   Facilitating access and movement around the dwelling to enable the disabled
      person to provide care for someone;
(l)   Making the dwelling or building suitable for the accommodation, welfare of
      employment of the disabled person.



The applicant must be either an owner or a tenant.

The disabled person and any partner are means tested to determine the amount of their
contribution towards the cost of the works. If the disabled person is a child, the parents are
means tested. An application is only approved if it is considered reasonable and
practicable to carry out the relevant works having regard to the age and condition of the
dwelling or building.

There is a limit of £25,000 for each grant approval.




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     Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




     Appendix J - Structure for Delivery

                                                              AREA DEVELOPMENT
                                                              GENERAL MANAGER




                                                                HOUSING SERVICE
                                                                   MANAGER




Housing Regeneration Officer        Housing Regeneration Officer       Senior Environmental Health Officer    Senior Environmental Health Officer

- Group Repair                      - Empty Properties                 - Grants                               - Grants
                                    - Houses in Multiple Occupation    - complaints                           - Policy Administration




                                                                                                               Administration Team Leader




                                                                                                Clerical Assistant      Administration Officer
                                                                                                - General               - Grants



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy




Appendix I - Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants
The Council's policy for discretionary Disabled facilities grants for disabled
occupants is anticipated to assist a small number of disabled people with
exceptional circumstances each year.

The policy will include consideration of disabled occupants:

   Whose needs do not fall within the mandatory criteria.
   Whose needs have been approved by the social services Team Manager ( a
    Senior Occupational Therapist)
   Who cannot raise sufficient funds by other means (e.g. charitable funding)
    and,
   Where there is no realistic probability of the person’s needs being met other
    than by a discretionary Disabled Facilities Grant.


The grant limit for this assistance is £5000.

Consideration and approval of discretionary Disabled Facility Grant applications
will be made by the Housing Manager/Senior Environmental Health Officer in
conjunction with the portfolio Councillor.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy


Appendix K – Customer Satisfaction

Mendip District Council is committed to maintaining and improving the level of
service provided to residents.

A review of the private sector housing renewal service was undertaken in
2000/01. The findings from this survey indicated that the grant service was
rated as follows.

% of respondents                            Rating of Grant Service Provided
75.0%                                       Excellent
17.9%                                       Good
 3.6%                                       Satisfactory
 3.6%                                       bad

It is the intention that service delivery for this policy will be maintained at a high
level.
As part of our continued commitment to service, a further satisfaction survey will
be undertaken during the period of the next policy April 2005-December 2008.




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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy


Appendix I – Glossary
DFG (Disabled Facilities Grant)
A grant from the Council to provide specialist aids and other facilities for
disabled people

HECA (Home Energy Conservation Act)
This Act places responsibility on Councils to produce HECA reports outlining
practical, cost effective measures for achieving energy saving in homes in their
area.

Housing Investment Programme (HIP)
Annual Statement of local housing strategy, statistical information about
housing conditions and needs, and proposed programme of capital expenditure.
Used as a basis for capital resources allocation. However, system for capital
resources allocation will change 2004/04 when Regional Housing Boards will be
responsible for recommending allocations.

HMO (House in Multiple Occupation)
Property occupied by more than one household, sharing basic amenities (e.g.
bedsits). Regulations exist to control the repair standards and provision of fire
precautions in these properties.

Housing Association
A non-profit making organisation providing housing for rent or shared ownership
for those in need.

Housing Needs
The requirements that individuals and households have for housing.

Housing Strategy
A document produced by the local housing authority usually covering a three
year period setting out strategic aims and objectives across all housing tenures
within the district.

Local Authority
Elected Councils, which provide local services.

Mendip Care & Repair
Home Improvement Agency, which assists older and disabled home owners to
maintain, repair and adapt their homes.

Mendip Housing Limited
The not-for-profit Registered Social landlord to which Mendip District Council’s
housing stock was transferred in March 2001.

Primary Care Trust (PCT)
Provides community and primary care services to a population of 109 000
people in the districts of Mendip and East Somerset.



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Private Sector Housing Renewal Policy


Private Sector
Property or finance not controlled by, for example, local authorities, Central
Government agencies, voluntary organisations or Housing Associations.

Registered Social Landlords (RSLs)
Landlords wishing to claim Social Housing Grant , Housing Associations are
RSLs.

Somerset Local Authorities Partnership
Group of the 5 local authorities within Somerset, aiming to work together to
achieve consistency across Somerset in private sector renewal.

Supporting People
New system to fund support that is provided for people with care needs,
alongside their housing needs.

YMCA
Local voluntary organisation actively involved in improving young peoples lives
particularly around housing and homelessness.




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