Minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2014 PDF 62 KB
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting
held on 11 November 2014 be signed as an accurate record of the
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2014
be signed as an accurate record of the meeting.
Declarations of interest PDF 26 KB
were no declarations of interest.
Private rented sector licensing PDF 184 KB
The proposals made in Section 2 of the officer report be noted.
An update report to be presented in 2015-16.
Generation Rent be asked for more
information on their work with other local authorities in helping
tenants claim rent back under RROs.
d) The Committee welcomed the approach of the Council in respect of
discretionary licensing on flats over shops. The Committee would
support a trial of discretionary licensing on flats over shops and
would like an update on this specific proposal in 2015-16.
Dayna Edwin, representing Generation
Rent addressed the meeting. The key points to note were:
- She had worked with
Generation Rent on a House of Commons Bill on Private Sector
- Generation Rent would
like to see borough-wide licensing of all landlords or at the very
least blanket landlord licensing in every ward where there is a
significant private rented sector.
- If the Council
budgeted exactly the same sum for enforcement as it currently does,
presuming the cost of licensing is covered by the licence fee, then
there are still benefits to the Council, for example:
- Off-setting some of
the overhead costs of the housing enforcement team to the license
- Providing the
enforcement team at its current scale with far better intelligence
in terms of landlords of concern. When you prosecute a licensed
landlord you will have a list of all their other properties in the
borough which should be prioritised for proactive
- The licence fees and
conditions can be scaled to impact harder on non-compliant
- There is more likely
to be uplift in Council Tax receipts if there is licensing of all
- Generation Rent would
like to be signposted to residents in the borough where landlords
have failed to protect their deposits to help them recover money
through Rent Repayment Orders (RROs).
- Generation Rent
rejects the idea that landlords would put up rents. Rents are high
because there is little supply and lots of demand and that is how
the market price emerges. For example, if market rents were based
on costs then you would see £400-a-month family homes
available where landlords had no mortgage to pay.
- It should cost less
than the £1m a year in set-up costs estimated in the agenda
report, but even if that were the case; if it provides a measure of
protection to one quarter of this borough’s population would
be worth it.
Rent requests that the Select Committee calls
for a business case to be prepared so that borough-wide licensing
can remain an option for the Mayor and Cabinet.
response to questions from the Committee, Generation Rent made the
following further points:
- It was a
disappointment that the Private Member’s Bill that would have
outlawed revenge evictions was unable to make it through the
Parliamentary legislative process, and therefore now unlikely to
become law by the end of this Parliament.
- Having a borough-wide
licensing scheme would deter rogue landlords by ensuring they have
to be registered and monitored with an enhanced enforcement
- Licensing can be a
tool to help protect vulnerable tenants, including people who have
English as a second language, and who are often in the worst
private sector rented accommodation.
Debi Waite, Environmental Health Team Manager, Residential
Services, LB Greenwich, addressed the meeting. The key points to
- She has worked in the
area of housing for over 20 years, and has experience of successful
selective licensing in Gresham, Middlesbrough. She has also worked
with a number of local ...
view the full minutes text for item 3.
Communal heating systems review PDF 104 KB
RESOLVED: That the comments and
evidence be noted for the Review.
Bertie Dixon (Engineer from Max
Fordham) made a presentation to the Committee. The key points to
- Max Fordham LLP is a
consultancy specialising in engineering and construction, who have
been in business for over 50 years. They have worked with numerous
local authority housing developments, including projects in
Lewisham such as Milton Court. They have installed and refurbished
all types of heating system in that period, and followed up the
results where possible.
- The common
description for ‘district’ or communal heating system
that operates many houses or buildings, like a housing estates or
shopping centres from one central boiler plant. The conventional
system is the boiler system where you have one boiler per
- The general
convention since the 1980s has been to fit individual boilers
rather than communal heating when constructing housing
developments. However, in the last 10 years there has been a move
to fit communal heating systems.
- This is due to the
very strong policy position that has developed that combined heat
and power is the most efficient way to generate heat. The Greater London Authority (GLA) & in turn
local councils now all but require communal heating systems in
major housing developments in London, and strongly encourage
combined heat and power. Max Fordham
LLP believes that there is an ‘gap in understanding’ in
the information that has led to this policy position held by the
GLA and others, on the operational use of communal heating systems
and the inappropriate use of small scale combined heat and power
- Government published
calculation methods used for building control and planning state
that there is a 5% loss in energy with communal heating systems;
but Max Fordham LLP own calculations state that for new flat
developments it is more like 50%-70%. Losses as low as 30% are
possible but with unusually high standards of design and
installation. This causes higher carbon
emissions, significantly higher bills than one would predict using
the government calculator. Furthermore the uncontrolled heat loss
in the distribution system causes overheating with attendant health
risks to the tenants.
- Housing developers
are now expected by planners to install communal heating systems to
meet sustainability requirements for new developments, when better
energy-efficient building would have been a more effective
- One of the issues is
that policymakers seem not know how inefficient communal heating
systems are, particularly in current UK practice, and seem to be
unaware of the problems that social housing tenants have with these
response to questions from the Committee, Bertie Dixon made the following further
- With communal heating
systems, the capital costs are substantially higher due to the
increased level of infrastructure, and the running costs are higher
due to the increased fuel used, maintenance and management. Bills
are generally much lower for the tenant with a single boiler system
in their dwelling.
- Housing developers do
have an option not to install communal heating systems if they so
wish, especially if they build more energy-efficient properties.
However the policy ...
view the full minutes text for item 4.
New Homes Better Places: phase 3 PDF 1 MB
That the report be noted.
Jeff Endean (Housing Programmes and Strategy Team Manager),
introduced the report. The key points to note were:
- The latest developments in the
project will go to Mayor and Cabinet in January 2015.
- Phrase 1 is soon to be completed;
Phrase 2 will start in Spring 2015, and
Phrase 3 will go to Mayor and Cabinet so the planning process can
- There will also be two re-builds for
Extra Care Schemes as part of the plans as proposed
5.2 In response to
questions from the Committee, the following was noted:
- There needs to be
more communication with local residents and parents as many are
unaware of the expansion of Fairlawn Primary School, which is
situated next to the Greystead Road proposal.
- The roads and links
that are part of the Elliot Bank proposal should improve the area
around the site.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
Rent and service charge setting and consultation (2015-16) PDF 93 KB
That the Select Committee support Option B in the officer
Humphreys, Group Finance Manager, Customer Services, introduced the
report. The key points to note were:
- The Government has recently amended
the Guidance for rental for social housing stock to Local
- Following the introduction of the
self-financing system for the housing revenue account (HRA) in
2012, the Council is responsible for ensuring that the costs of
managing, maintaining, improving and developing its social housing
stock can be met from rents collected and other income.
- The self-financing system allows the
Council to develop plans over a longer term, unlike the previous
annual housing subsidy system. This has enabled the Council to
consider longer term options of how its stock is managed and
- To assist in assessing the various
management and development options, a financial model has been
developed. Within this, there are assumptions about future costs,
for example for lifecycle repairs, capital investment, new build
and so on. Most significantly of all it is based on an assumption
that rents would rise in line with the Government’s
‘Convergence Formula’ until all units have converged to
its ‘target’ or formula rent using an annual uplift of
RPI + 0.5% + £2pw, and increase by RPI + 0.5% p.a.
- The intention of the Convergence
Formula was to ensure that tenants in accommodation of a similar
size in a similar location would pay similar rents. To date, the
Council has set rents in accordance with this formula.
- Officers have provided four
illustrations in the papers that provide potential rent rises for
2015/16. Three of the rent increase illustrations show a potential
shortfall against the rent income assumption in the current HRA
financial model. If the Council follows the Government Guidance for
increases 0f CPI+1%, and the discontinuance of rent convergence,
over the remaining life of the HRA financial model shows a deficit
of £24.6m against the rental income assumptions. This will
need to be made up by additional saving or efficiencies which would
affect services to residents. It would also mean that approximately
30% of tenants would not reach convergence, i.e. there would be a
high proportion of tenants paying differing rents for similar
- The Formula suggested by the
Government is only ‘Guidance’, however if the
Council’s rent is increased by less than the Formula amount
then the Council suffers the full cost of the lost rent which would
have a significant impact on the Council’s investment plans;
and if the rent is increased by more than the Formula amount, and
the resulting average rent is higher than the amount Government has
indicated it is willing to cover via Housing Benefit, the Council
will receive only part of the financial benefit of the extra rent
raised because of the way the housing benefit system operates in
- The recommendation from officers is
that whilst no recommended increase is being made, tenants are
asked for their opinion on the increase to be applied, for
consideration by the Mayor &
- No proposals have been received to
increase the current levy ...
view the full minutes text for item 6.
Select Committee work programme PDF 97 KB
Andrew, Scrutiny Manager introduced the report. The key points to
- The items scheduled
for the January meeting were as follows:
- Housing Strategy
- Communal Heating
- Key Housing
response to questions the Committee were advised:
- The Housing
Strategy’s consultation may have to be tabled at the meeting
as there will be little time to prepare a paper for agenda despatch
once the consultation has concluded on 21 January 2015.
- The Registered
Housing Providers – Invitation item has been moved to the
March meeting to provide more time to discuss the relevant issues
at the meeting. Officers will write to the five major Registered
Housing Providers in the New Year to invite them to the March
- Officers will write
to Registered Housing Providers (L&Q have already provided
evidence to the Communal Heating Review) so they can provide
additional evidence to the Review from their
- Officers will request
to Barratt Homes that they send a representative to the January
meeting to give evidence as part of the Communal Heating
- The item on
‘Private rented sector update/licensing scheme’ be
removed from the March meeting, and an update would be provided to
the Committee as part of its 2015-16 work programme.
Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet
The meeting ended at