The York Councils Executive member with responsible for housing is being asked to write off the bad debts of 4 former Council tenants.
The amount involved is nearly £6000 each.
With average Council house rents around £300 a month, it means that these former tenants didn’t pay any rent for around 18 months.
They are unlikely to have been housing benefit cases as the rent payable in those cases is usually minimal.
The tenants apparently absconded between 2 and 5 years ago.
The identities of the tenants involved are not being disclosed. In the past “naming names” has sometimes allowed the Council to trace those who have absconded. It is not clear why the Council has changed its policy and granted anonymity in these cases.
The Council says that if it does trace the individuals concerned they will still be required to pay what they owe.
Liberal Democrat Councillors have called on the Council to support and restore the York Residents’ Federation, the voice for tenants and residents associations in the city, following a recent collapse of the Federation.
The York Residents’ Federation represents the interests of residents and tenants by promoting resident’s rights to be involved in developing policies on housing and other issues at the Council.
Up until this month, the Federation had operated for over 25 years, playing a huge role in providing local and detailed knowledge to Council departments and acting as a representative sounding board to be consulted on ideas and changes to Council policies.
Thanks to the effort of hard working volunteers, the Federation has made tangible changes to estates, which have ensured that residents of mixed tenures of can take pride in their own communities.
To ensure the Federation is reinstated, the Liberal Democrats have formally requested a scrutiny review to identify areas in which the Council can support greater tenant engagement.
Councillor Ann Reid, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, commented:
“The York Residents Federation has played a crucial role in ensuring resident’s aspirations are reflected in Council housing policies and therefore, we are naturally alarmed at the recent collapse of the Federation.”
“Liberal Democrats are committed to ensuring that the Federation is reinstated and that it is properly supported in representing tenants and residents.”
“I hope the scrutiny committee see the reasoning behind our request and act swiftly in identifying opportunities in which the Council can restore and strengthen tenant engagement.”
The York Federation of Residents’ Associations folded yesterday.
The decision was taken at a meeting which heard that it had been impossible to find a full slate of officers.
The decision doesn’t affect the many individual residents and tenants associations which operate successfully in many parts of the City.
It will, however, mean that a new process is required to allocate some centralised grant funding streams.
The Federation, which depended entirely on the efforts of volunteers, had struggled to deal with increasing regulatory requirements during recent months.
Some of its members had been critical of the lack of involvement on major policy changes being pursued by the Councils Housing Department.
NB. The Council has still not appointed a new contractor to carry on its “tenants choice” modernisation programmes
Some housing repairs to attract fees
The Council says that the reason that garage 11 on Bramham Road has been boarded up for over 6 months is because if contains potentially hazardous asbestos. They have now agreed to have the garage cleared.
The Council is revising its policies on charging for housing repairs. It could mean that tenants will have to pay “upfront” for repairs although emergency attention to blocked drains, broken windows and power failures will continue to be given priority. Tenants may be charged (£145) future if they are “locked out” and call for Council assistance. Replacing a gate will cost £161 while an internal door will be charged at £79.85.
Window repairs will cost between £33.00 and £190.00 depending on size.
A new bath will cost £311.35 and an electric fire £291.27
The new policy – which can be read by clicking here – is likely to cause some controversy. Post and wire is confirmed as the standard boundary fence. This type of fencing is unsightly and often ineffective.
The Council is, however, committing to removing asbestos when found in council homes.
Garden sheds will not be repaired by the Council.
The proposals have not been subject to consultation with tenants associations.
There is a growing list of grievances that many tenants have with the Councils housing department.
In recent months we have seen the “good tenant” scheme dropped while poor management of the Council’s garage stock is an ongoing issue. A new Housing Estate Improvement Programme process, introduced 2 years ago, has been widely criticised with delays in both agreeing and the implemention of improvements.
NB. The Council makes a profit on its housing revenue account of over £4 million each year.
In a report to a meeting taking place next week, officials are claiming that a planning application for the upgrade of the Lincoln Court independent living home on Ascot Way, “has been submitted”.
This will come as news to the residents living in the building who are eagerly awaiting details of the final design for the modernised site and the construction timetable.
There is no such application displayed on the Councils “planning portal“
So far only the demolition of the adjacent Windsor House building and subsequent construction of a centre for disabled children has reached the planning application stage. That application was submitted on 29th June.
It is a matter of some concern as residents will want to see an integrated timetable for both developments which ensures that work on the whole of the site is completed quickly.
They will also want to see the Newbury Avenue development completed before work starts on Ascot Way.
Both developments will put considerable pressure on parts of Kingsway West which offers the only access route into the area.
Kingsway West is a cul de sac and already suffers from congestion caused by poor parking provision on the area near the Ascot Way junction.