Council’s new policy on houses

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SCARBOROUGH Borough Council is seeking approval to change its Housing Enforcement Policy, it has been revealed.

The issue will be discussed at the first meeting of the council’s new Cabinet on Tuesday 24 May in a report which will be presented by Coun Bill Chatt, the new Cabinet member for housing and property maintenance, and covers areas including houses of multiple occupation and illegal eviction.

It was written by Andrew Rowe, the council’s housing manager, who said: “The proposed policy changes, along with new joint working protocols have been developed in order to provide clarity to officers, members, the public – tenants and landlords – and other key stakeholders of the roles and responsibilities of the council with respect to undertaking housing enforcement action.

“The changes are being recommended to ensure that the council takes a robust, fair and consistent approach toward meeting its legal obligations.”

His report recommends the adoption of:

* a draft Housing Enforcement Policy

*a new joint draft Housing and Planning Enforcement Protocol in respect of houses in multiple occupation

* a new joint protocol in respect of illegal eviction and harassment.

Mr Rowe said that the use of appropriate enforcement action when needed in respect of housing standards is a statutory responsibility for the council.

In March 2007 councillors considered a report which recommended the adoption of an Environmental Services enforcement policy and since then the council has approved the adoption of a number of individual recommendations that have a bearing on the enforcement policy including charges, fire safety issues and the adoption of a new empty homes strategy.

Mr Rowe added: “Members will also recall that in March 2011, Cabinet instructed officers to develop a new joint housing/planning enforcement policy/protocol in respect of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

“In addition officers have also realised that there is a gap within existing policy in relation to the powers available to the council to tackle incidents of illegal eviction. “A new updated Housing Services Enforcement Policy has thus been developed.

“This policy update has been developed in accordance with the wider good practice principles laid out within Environmental Services Enforcement Policy and Concordat.”