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Contact: Committee Section
Apologies for Absence
An apology for absence was received from Cllr
Minutes PDF 163 KB
The minutes of the Housing Services Cabinet
Committee held on Monday 14 November 2022, were agreed and signed
by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
Cllr Baljit Hayre declared an interest in Item
6 as he was an HMO license holder.
Cllr Jordan Meade declared an interest in Item
5 as he was a Kent County Councillor (KCC) and the report made
reference to the ‘No Use Empty’ scheme.
Draft Empty Homes Strategy 2023-2028 PDF 333 KB
Service Manager (Housing Options) presented the Committee with the
Draft Empty Homes Strategy 2023 – 2028. The purpose of this
report was to provide the Housing Services Cabinet Committee with
an overview of the strategy and to give Members the opportunity for
comment prior to approval by Cllr Jenny Wallace, Cabinet Member for
Service Manager (Housing Options) highlighted the following key
points from the report:
- The Empty Homes service transferred from Housing Development to
Private Sector Housing on 1 January 2023.
- The previous Empty Homes Strategy expired in 2019.
the time of writing the strategy, Gravesham had a total of 661
empty properties with 336 of those being empty for a period of at
least six months.
- There was a wording error with the use of the term
‘grant’ on page 24, which should have stated
Corporate Working Group was being set up to have representation
across the Council. The first meeting was due to take place in
Following questions and comments from Members, the Service
Manager (Housing Options) explained that:
- The empty properties discussed were privately owned housing and
not Council owned housing.
- Homes were declared empty for a number of factors, such as
sentimental reasons, inherited properties, and second homes. These
were identified through the council tax system.
- The Corporate Working Group would help to calculate the impact
of legislation on empty homes, such as the Levelling Up and
Regeneration Bill with council tax helping to shape the approach to
empty homes to produce a proactive service.
- The Director (Housing) explained that statistically, second home
ownership in Gravesham was relatively low and therefore, it was not
thought that the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill would have a
- Members can help by reporting any known empty
- The Housing Services Team were working with Communications to
gain publicity on what they’re doing, when and how empty
properties can be reported.
- The website was being updated to make it more
- National Empty Homes Week would provide the team with
information regarding what tools they have at their disposal. The
Service Manager (Housing Options) was happy to report back to the
Committee on what strategies they planned to use to promote the
identification of empty homes.
- The Housing Services Team were working closely with different
departments across the Council, such as Communications, Digital,
Enforcement and Private Sector Housing, as well as KCC’s No
Use Empty Scheme to identify what other areas were doing to help
identify any gaps.
- The Service Manager (Housing Options) assured Members that they
held confidence in the service and would do the best they could to
bring empty homes back into use.
- Marketing strategies targeted towards Landlords presented them
with what’s on offer and provided them with an analysis on
how much rental income they could generate, as well as information
regarding GBC helping them to find a suitable tenant.
- The Empty Homes Strategy would be reviewed every year to ensure
that it’s kept up ...
view the full minutes text for item 4.
Updated Property and Management Standards Applicable to Houses of Multiple Occupation (Amenity Standards) PDF 322 KB
The Service Manager (Housing Services)
presented the Committee with a report that updated Members on the
Amenity Standards applicable to Houses of Multiple Occupation
(HMOs), and outlined the following:
- The Government provided minimum
standards, which were last updated in 2018, and as such a refresh
- The Service Manager (Housing
Services) was aware that not all existing landlords met the
threshold, but they were working to get them up to standard.
- It was not possible to stop a
landlord from having a HMO license, but conditions could be placed
- The most recent update came from
increased fire regulations in January, making the standards as up
to date as possible.
Following questions and comments from Members,
the Service Manager (Housing Services) explained that:
- For listed buildings, they were
aware of the importance in flexibility, whilst ensuring all
standards are met, to make it as feasible and as reasonable as
- HMOs were designed for single
occupancy and no children should be housed in a HMO. Initial
inspections will take place at the point of application, and if a
report was filed of a child living at a HMO, an investigation would
- The Service Manager (Housing
Services) agreed to share the standards with Planning.
- The Service Manager (Housing
Services) agreed to amend the table on page 36 to reflect the order
of the note’s underneath. Additionally, it was agreed that a
door guard be implemented.
The Committee noted the report.
Eviction Report / Anti-Social Behaviour Policy PDF 308 KB
The Service Manger
(Housing Landlord Services) presented the Committee with a report
detailing an overview of the eviction process as a social housing
landlord when dealing with anti-social behaviour.
The Service Manager
(Housing Landlord Services) outlined the following key points from
- Members were reminded
that eviction was always a last resort. Residents should be given
opportunity to change their behaviour and reasonable steps should
- A study carried out by
Shelter in September 2021, identified that it costs at least
£28 million pounds to evict tenants from social housing each
year, acknowledging that the approximate cost of supporting a
homeless household due to eviction was £24,000 per
- 75% of anti-social
behaviour can be resolved if early intervention was
- The new policy outlined
the difference between what was defined as anti-social behaviour,
and what was defined as unwanted behaviour.
Following questions and
comments, the Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) explained
- Restorative justice was
a more formal element of intervention which comes from the police.
GBC would start mediation early by meeting in an informal
environment or use a trained mediator.
Anti-social Behaviour Officers previously sat with Community
Safety, but housing officers know their tenants best and so it was
felt that the service should be brought back into
- There was not one
specific mode of reporting anti-social behaviour. Residents would
email and call, as well as tell officers who were out on estate
- Residents are
encouraged to report any incidences of anti-social behaviour to the
police. The team had a good working relationship with the police,
so it often benefitted the residents by reporting to both the
Council and the police, who have established information sharing
- Reports of anti-social
behaviour relating to drug use were investigated on evidence,
either by GBC or the police, and this would be presented at Court.
However, a balance must be maintained if they have received
multiple reports regarding the same incident.
- There were no specific
signs in housing estates that promoted an intolerance to
anti-social behaviour as there was debates around the effectiveness
of the signs highlighting anti-social behaviour in the area.
However, the Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) agreed to
look into the use of digital noticeboards within
- As part of an
anti-social behaviour report, staff complete a risk assessment and
these categorise it as high, medium or low risk. A low-risk case
may involve monitoring, whilst a high-risk case would immediately
put staff in contact with the police to ensure the safety of the
tenant. This could involve finding them alternative
- Noise complaints
regarding the washing machine being used at night fall into the
category of household noise. The Service Manager (Housing Landlord
Services) agreed to reflect this within the report.
The Committee thanked
the Service Manager (Housing Options) and Service Manager (Housing
Landlord Services) for the detailed reports and the hard work that
went into making this report.