COUNCILLORS have approved a draft Housing Enforcement Policy to deal which proposed new guidelines covering houses of multiple occupancy and illegal evictions.
The decision was taken at this week’s meeting of Scarborough Council’s Cabinet and the report will now be considered for final approval at a meeting of the full council.
Cllr Bill Chatt, the new portfolio holder for housing and property maintenance, said that people who were under 35-years-old would find it harder to get housing benefit, under new Government legislation, and more people would be forced to homeshare as a result.
According to the report the proposed policy changes, along with the new joint working protocols have been developed in order to provide clarity to officers, councillors and the public – both tenants and landlords – as well as other key organisations, of the roles and responsibilities of the Council with respect to undertaking housing enforcement action.
Andrew Rowe, the council’s housing manager and author of the report, said: “One of the recommendations of that report is to make sure we are working in a coordinated way and we are developing joint protocols.”
And he added that the existing protocols needed to be “refreshed” and there were gaps in the current guidelines which needed to be filled –in particular the way the council worked on evictions. He said: “We need this to make sure we act responsibly.”
Mr Rowe said that housing officers tried to take a “preventative approach” and, as a result, only one landlord had been prosecuted during the last 12 months.
His report recommended the adoption of:
l A draft Housing Enforcement Policy.
l A new joint draft Housing and Planning Enforcement Protocol in respect of houses in multiple occupation.
l A new joint protocol in respect of illegal eviction and harassment.
The changes have been recommended to ensure the council takes a fair and consistent approach to meeting legal obligations.
In March 2007 councillors considered a report which recommended the adoption of an Environmental Services enforcement policy and since then it has approved the adoption of a number of individual recommendations In March the previous Cabinet instructed officers to develop a new joint housing and planning enforcement policy or protocol for Houses in Multiple Occupation.