COUNCIL LAUNCHES ‘HOW TO FIX IT’ ADVICE ONLINE / HOUSING TENANT GUILTY OF ILLEGAL SUB-LETTING / CRACKDOWN PLANS ON POOR HOUSING GO TO NINE BOROUGHS FOLLOWING COURT RULING / ‘RIGHT TO BUY’ FRAUD: WOMAN JAILED FOR 18 MONTHS
COUNCIL LAUNCHES ‘HOW TO FIX IT’ ADVICE ONLINE
Unblocking toilets with a mop, checking smoke alarms and changing a fluorescent light are just some examples of the top DIY tips now available online for Southwark council tenants.
Southwark’s repairs and maintenance service looks after over 50,000 homes across the borough and every year they receive thousands of calls about small repairs around the home – at a cost of around £1m a year, said a council spokesperson.
“These repairs can be done by tenants themselves – easily and without special tools.
“To try and help tenants take more responsibility for their smaller repairs, we have produced a series of videos to show people how to complete basic repairs and maintenance.”
The Fix it at Home videos offer a step by step guide on how to unblock your toilet or sink, change your bathroom and kitchen lights, set up your central heating correctly and change and test your smoke alarm.
“They are not the most glamorous of jobs but definitely important for keeping your home running smoothly” added the spokesperson.
“All the videos are simple and easy to follow, and are based on what our own expert plumbers and electricians would do themselves. “There is no complicated equipment needed. “And there are more to come in the New Year.”
Cllr Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for housing, said: “Our aim is to save our tenants time and money by reducing the number of call outs the team get for these smaller, simpler repairs.
“Even if the number is reduced by half, it equates to thousands of pounds saved and will also help the repairs team focus their time and expertise on more complex repairs.
“It also means that the tenant can sort these simple repairs themselves quickly, letting them get on with their day rather than waiting for a visit from the council.”
To view the videos go to our YouTube channel atwww.youtube.com/southwarkcouncil (Source: Southwark council press release)
HOUSING TENANT GUILTY OF ILLEGAL SUB-LETTING
A Norwood man has been found guilty of illegally subletting a housing association property, under new legislation brought in last year to tackle tenancy fraud.
The man from Gipsy Hill, Norwood was the sole tenant at the property since 1996.
In March 2014 he sublet the property, giving the impression to the subtenant that the property was privately owned. Within a few days of moving in, the subtenant was made aware that the property was in fact rented from AmicusHorizon housing association and contacted them.
The allegation was passed to Lambeth council’s fraud team for investigation.
The man was prosecuted in his absence on 18 November at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court. He was fined £1,100 and ordered to pay costs of £500.
AmicusHorizon are now in the process of taking legal action to recover the property from him.
A Lambeth council spokesperson said: “AmicusHorizon and Lambeth council work in partnership to tackle tenancy fraud and will always seek the most appropriate action where this is found.”
To report any suspicions of tenancy fraud to Lambeth council please phone 0207 926 1111 (Source: Lambeth council press release.)
CRACKDOWN PLANS ON POOR HOUSING GO TO NINE BOROUGHS FOLLOWING COURT RULING
Residents and businesses across south London are being asked for their views on Croydon council’s proposals to protect tenants and crack down on rogue landlords.
People across Lambeth, Southwark, Bromley, Merton, Sutton, Lewisham and Wandsworth, plus Tandridge and Reigate & Banstead in Surrey, have 10 weeks to give feedback on Croydon’s proposals for a borough-wide landlord licensing scheme.
Croydon has around 30,000 private rented properties, and the proposals aim to improve conditions for tenants, raise standards across the sector and toughen up enforcement powers against bad landlords.
If the proposals go ahead, landlords would have to pay a fee for a licence that shows they:
• Are fit and proper landlords
• Meet a series of health and safety checks
• Have no criminal convictions
Landlords renting out a property without a licence face fines of up to £20,000, while anyone breaking licence conditions can be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.
A Croydon council spokesman said: “Feedback to the consultation has already prompted us to cut the proposed landlord licence fee to as little as £350 over five years, or 19p a day.
“Private renting has increased significantly in Croydon recently, with negative consequences including poor-quality homes, noise, litter, fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour.
Croydon council launched the further 10-week consultation following a landmark High Court ruling against Enfield council a fortnight ago.
“The case, which has implications for councils nationwide, resulted in a judge ruling that Enfield should have consulted neighbouring authorities on its own landlord licensing plans” explained the spokesman.
Cllr Alison Butler, Croydon’s cabinet member for homes and regeneration, said: “Our landlord licensing scheme proposals are about making Croydon a better place to rent and providing greater protection to private tenants.
“There are lots of good landlords in Croydon, but this scheme is about focusing on the ones that pose a headache for their tenants and neighbours.
“Following a recent High Court ruling on the extent of consultation in Enfield, we have decided to run a further 10-week consultation period on our proposals.
“This will ensure that Croydon’s consultation reflects the High Court’s ruling by engaging with people in neighbouring boroughs.”
When the council makes its final decision, any responses already submitted to Croydon’s original consultation will be considered, and the council is welcoming further feedback from inside and outside the borough during the further 10-week consultation which runs until 2 March.
Croydon’s consultation was originally launched with the borough’s landlords in September and widened to the general public from 17 November to 12 December.
To take part, please visit www.croydon.gov.uk/betterplacetorent or call MEL research on 0121 604 4664.
After the consultation ends next March, Croydon council’s cabinet will decide whether to go ahead with the proposals later in the year. (Source: Croydon council press release.)
‘RIGHT TO BUY’ FRAUD: WOMAN JAILED FOR 18 MONTHS
A 54-year-old woman has been given an 18 month prison sentence after being found guilty of fraud against Lambeth council.
The woman bought a property in Heath Road from Lambeth under the right to buy scheme in 2003 with a discount of £38,000. Under right to buy legislation the person purchasing the property has to confirm that the property in question is their only or principal home.
“But it became apparent she had not been resident at the Heath Road property at the time of the purchase and was in fact being pursued by Lambeth’s council tax department for outstanding arrears” said a council spokesperson.
“In order to support her claim that she wasn’t liable for the council tax arrears, she provided evidence including copies of a tenancy agreement and bank statements showing rent being received for the property that she’d been renting out since 2001.
“The case was referred to the Lambeth counter fraud team to investigate who were able to establish that she had been living with her husband in Ilford since 1994.
“As she had been subletting the property her declaration that this was her principal home was proven to be false and consequently the case was referred to the council’s legal team for criminal prosecution.”
At the end of a five day trial, the jury, after deliberating for only eight minutes, found her guilty of two offences under the Theft Act. She was sentenced to 18 months in custody.
Cllr Matthew Bennett, Lambeth’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Lambeth council will pursue frauds and cheats through the courts thanks to the tireless hard work of our fraud team.
“In the middle of a housing crisis we won’t go easy on greedy people like her, who are robbing the local community and she’ll now be spending Christmas behind bars.” (Source: Lambeth council press release.)