Agenda item

Draft Tenant and Leaseholder Decant Policy


The Committee was informed of the proposed Tenant and Leaseholder Decant Policy and their comments were sought comments prior to the policy being agreed by the Cabinet Member, Housing Services.


The Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) guided Members through the report and gave a detailed overview of the policy; the decant policy covered both temporary and permanent decants including tenants and leaseholders and set out what the Council hoped to achieve from decant, how the process would be managed, how those affected by a decant would be engaged, what support would be provided and what home loss payments individuals could expect to receive. The policy took into account relevant legislation and guidance to ensure that home loss payments were set at the correct levels and that any decants were followed in a lawful process. A full copy of the Decant Policy could be found in Appendix 2 to the report. 


The Chair thanked the Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) for her detailed overview of the report and appreciated that the Policy was good for the Council to have in place.


The Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) and the Director (Housing) fielded questions from the Committee and explained that:


  • The policy could be made accessible online on the Councils website for all tenants/leaseholders to view whenever they wanted, and the Council would happily share the policy directly with a tenant/leaseholder when they requested or were going through the decant process. If the Council were aware of an area that was being decanted than the residents would be told about the policy through the engagement process prior to the decant
  • There weren’t any specific decants scheduled for the near future; the team reviewed schemes as they arose and there were a few developments coming forward but nothing yet that would require a resident to go through the decant process at present. Ward Members would be contacted by the Director (Housing) for an early consultation if any decants were planned in their wards
  • Being eligible for assistance and possible rehousing after twelve months living in the affected property was the accepted rule as it was beyond an introductory tenancy; the Council did not have any obligations to rehouse introductory tenants. However, as stipulated at paragraph 16 of the report ‘The Director of Housing, may exercise their discretion to depart from this policy due to the exceptional individual circumstances of the case.’
  • All tenants were advised to take out their own home contents insurance and should use that insurance in the first instance if there was an emergency decant. If a tenant did not have any home contents insurance, then the Council would still provide assistance however every decant situation was different and the Council could not promise to rehouse the tenants in every case which is why the policy stated ‘may be rehoused’
  • There was not a set time for notice to be given to a property that a decant had been scheduled as there was a lot of work leading up to it and it was a slow process. However, tenants would be engaged with early on and the Director (Housing) confirmed that the Council would aim to inform residents before any planning applications were submitted so they would usually be informed 12 – 18 months before the decant which was deemed enough time for them to sort themselves out
  • Tenants had the right to appeal and to make a complaint; in the first instance the complaint would be received by the Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) and an investigation would be conducted. If the resident wasn’t happy with the result, then the complaint would be progressed to the Director (Housing)
  • The Director (Housing) added that when the Housing Allocation Scheme was revised an Independent Panel was set up to hear appeals; it was likely that appeals for decant would also go to an Independent Panel with an independent officer able to hear those appeals
  • It would be too difficult to advise what grounds for appeal would possibly be successful, but the Director (Housing) agreed to circulate the terms of reference of the Independent Panel to Members
  • Residents were expected to give three quotes for each of the items listed at 11.2 in the report; some contracts may well cover several of the times in each quote. It may have seemed like a lot but following extensive research it was identified that requesting three quotes was the norm and it was important that decants were balanced and reasonable. A degree of sensibility would be applied to every case as all cases were different and some things would need to be catered to an individual’s needs; it was recognised that ‘Re-direction of mail’ would only receive one quote from Royal Mail  
  • The Director (Housing) added that there were Liaison Officers that would support tenants during a decant and they could assist the tenants with their quotes
  • The policy only outlined how a Council property would be decanted; if the owners of a private property refused to move from a property that was to be decanted then a notice of cession would have to be sought from a judge


In response to a Members concern, the Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) agreed to make clear in paragraph 12, the distinction between what the Council needed to do for Council and privately owned properties when residents refused to move. The Chair agreed to the request.


The Chair thanked Members for their feedback and agreed to consider all feedback prior to approval of the Policy as the Portfolio Holder.


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