An action plan setting out a more cost effective approach to managing Exeter City Council’s housing properties has been put forward by the local authority.
Cllr Rob Hannaford, Lead councillor for Housing and Customer Access, said the plan signalled a fresh approach to the way the council maintained and managed its council houses that would ultimately save the authority money in the long-run.
“We are looking at carrying out more regular visits to properties in an attempt to nip problems in the bud,” said Cllr Hannaford. “If repairs need to be carried out it is better that they are identified early on.”
One of the wettest winters on record contributed to more repairs to leaks and damp problems than usual. This, along with a number of other factors such as the Coalition Government’s welfare reforms , resulted in the council’s housing revenue account, which is wholly funded by the rents paid, spending £1 million more than anticipated. However, there is more than enough money in the HRA to meet this additional spending.
“We have learnt from the past and must now move forward. Yes, there are things that we can do better and those things have now been included in an action plan that the City Council is now implementing,” he said.
The action plan sets out 11 ways of better managing its stock and dealing with maintenance issues. These include:
• Setting up a dedicated team to deal with properties that are becoming empty, keeping a close eye on costs
• Inspecting all properties when notice is received and advising the tenant on the work they need to complete at the property before moving. People will not be able to transfer to another Exeter City Council property if their current home is in a poor state of repair
• Work has been done to understand the reasons behind the overspend. The results are being used to plan a major restructure of housing, which will take place later in the year
• All homes will be visited more frequently and tenants advised what they need to do if they have not looked after their property well. Checks will be made to make sure the work is done and if it hasn’t been then tenants run the risk of eviction
• Where tenants cause damage and don’t put it right, follow up action will be taken to recover the money the Council has to spend. Recently an outgoing tenant received a bill for £2,336 following unauthorised work to their kitchen.
The Action Plan was recently approved and welcomed by the Exeter City Council’s Scrutiny Committee.
(from a press release)