THURROCK Council is launching a new scheme aimed at improving the condition of privately rented homes in the borough.
Wednesday (12 February) evening’s meeting of the council’s cabinet supported a private sector housing strategy aimed at tackling and investigating issues like poor supply and rising homelessness; rising rents and fuel costs; benefit restrictions; increases in the number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs); increased homeless placements in private rented homes; and increased demand driven by proximity to London.
Introducing the item, Council Leader Cllr John Kent said: “We have to look at this remembering while we are facing further spending cuts like all of local government, we also have a new statutory responsibility for Health and Wellbeing and this strategy will improve the quality of existing homes, neighbourhoods, as well as increasing the supply of housing here as well as, over time, improving residents’ health, well-being and lifestyle.”
He said: “Thanks to £50,000 funding from the Health and Well-being Board means we can start by targeting three specific areas where there are issues – South Stifford and West Thurrock, Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park, and Grays Riverside.
“The work undertaken in these pilot schemes will see each private rented household contacted with the aim of booking a Well Homes appointment while at the same time identifying additional empty homes, households not known to us, rogue landlords, poor tenants and anti-social behavior issues.
“The pilot will also provide information that will influence our next moves as the programme is later rolled out Thurrock-wide. Will we need compulsory licensing or a social lettings agency for example?
“We will also be looking closely at homes in multiple occupation, do we need to change our licensing and planning policies, should it be done borough-wide or in discreet areas?”
Cllr Kent said: “The housing team is also completing an investigation into private rented homes and how local homeless families can access them. The aim is to create an incentive for compulsory licensing or social lettings agencies to rent to households on lower incomes.”