MINUTES OF THE NSC PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING FORUM HELD OCTOBER 2019

By Samii
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Nov 21st, 2019
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PRESENT: The following members signed the attendance record for the meeting:

Jane Barron – NLCE

Wendy White – NLCE

A Mason – NLCE

R Crouch – NLCE

Pip Bodalia – landlord

A Dishkin – NLCE

M Terry-Short – NLCE

Kevin Stock – NLCE

Susan Whiter – NLCE

S Yorkas – NLCE

Michael Murphy – NLCE

Keri Blay – NLCE

Hugh Parsons – NLCE

Ruth O’Neal – NLCE

Earl Coates – NLCE

N Turner – NLCE

Michael Paphitis – Landlord

Z Nicolaides – NLCE

Kim Huxtable – NLCE

Andy Mackenzie – NLCE

Sharon Laws – NLCE

Gerry Laws – NLCE

M Nicholas – NLCE

J Cook – NLCE

Kaye Sibley – NSC

Deb Andrews – NSC

Hannah Jones – NSC

Martin Hayne – Landlord

Karam Badham – NLCE

Lorna Wride – NLCE

Martin Wride – NLCE

Jack Bailey – Curo

Pete McNeill – CSE (Centre for Sustainable Energy)

Lisa Osborn – NSC

Howard Evans – NSC

Michaela Holloway – NSC

THE PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING FORUM

  1. 1. Apologies – Christine Woodbury and Grahame Middle
  2. 2. Minutes from previous meeting – Deemed to be correct
  3. 3. Matters arising – None
  4. 4. Spencer Jacobs – Amendment to British Standards BS5839-6 associated with fire detection in domestic premises

There has recently been an amendment to the British Standards BS5839-6 associated with fire detection in domestic premises, both owner occupier and rented. Several of the Automatic Fire Detection grades (The resilience and robustness of the power supply) have been deleted, and a number have been further subdivided. The Automatic Fire Detection  Categories (The type, and level of coverage of detection) have also been amended.

These standards are a mark of best practice and when employed would go to some way to demonstrate compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). (This order requires landlords to carry out fire risk assessments in the common areas of HMOs, flats, maisonettes and sheltered accommodation).

These changes are conflicting with the advice given in Building Regs AD B, so expect some changes to Building Regs in the future as well as potential further amendments to the BS. There may also be future amendments to the Lacors guidance.

There is also a move to incorporate CO detectors and their construction/connectivity to the BS5839-6 meaning that all CO detectors in future may well need to be interconnected with AFD’s and have a minimum grade of D1 (A system of one or more mains powered detectors, each with a tamper proof standby supply consisting of a battery or batteries.).

Mandatory HMO licencing and the AFD specification for (s)254 bedsits will not be affected by the changes as the licensing standard Grade A LD2 is greater than that in the amended standards BS5839-6. The changes do affect shared accommodation as Grade D LD3 is now LD2 Grade D1, and all other rented dwellings such as bungalows, houses etc will need a hard-wired system to include smoke and heat heads to a grade of D1/D2.

Q1. Will I have to change my current alarm system?

A1. The recent amendments are not retrospective. Additions and amendments in line with BS5839-6 should take place if there is a change in tenants or if any major electrical works are to be carried out.

Q2. Will I have to install a detector in the lounge area and landing?

The minimum standards are to install in escape routes and high risk areas e.g. hallways, landings and the principal habitable room such as the living room along with heat detectors in every kitchen

Q3. What about the bedroom, do I have to install a detector in there?

You need to install AFD in the bedroom if it is a loft conversion.

  1. 5.Cara MacMahon and Kate Hudson-McAulay – Weston Town Centre Area

The Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) has been created following a national £6m investment from Heritage England. The aims of the HAZ are to unlock potential in areas that are rich in heritage by bringing historic places back to life to attract residents, tourists, businesses and investors, and create economic growth.

The HAZ will focus on supporting the ongoing regeneration of the town’s centre. Plans include bringing buildings back into use as quality housing, developing clear heritage routes within the town centre to enhance existing trails through the town to the beach and train station, and opening up new pedestrian access to Weston Museum, Town Square and the seafront, as well as improving shop fronts and signage in the town centre.

The new programme area in Weston, which is in addition, and separate to, the existing Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), will focus on Weston-super-Mare’s southern High Street around Oxford Street and North Walliscote Road for works over four years. Future activities for the programme will include:

  • Community engagement – to help shape the delivery and sustainability of the new programme through volunteering and stakeholder initiatives
  •  Public realm and restoration of architectural features – the restoration and repair of original street features, improved lighting, paving, street furniture and bringing back original architectural characteristics
  •  Development and management of a shop front enhancement grants scheme, improving the exterior of retail units and reinstatement of historical features
  •  Conversion to new homes – working with property owners to support the sympathetic, appropriate and high-quality conversion of uppers floors, empty units and potentially bringing forward up to 20 new homes in the town centre
  •  Arts/culture projects – working with the Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the local community, supporting the development of a cultural arts programme of projects
  •  Explore the development of training opportunities in traditional conservation skills, building on the work of the current HAZ, and in partnership with local providers

It also recognises that retailing is changing and that many centres now have excess retail floorspace and that vacant shops can detract from a vibrant centre. Therefore, outside of the primary shopping areas, district and local centres; the conversion of vacant ground floor premises in residential style streets to residential use is also supported. Many of these former shops have historic frontages which form an essential part of the identity and character of the building or area. Conversions will need to retain important historical shop front features and meet high quality design and place-making standards.

Q1. Long term what is the vision?

Encourage more tourism, promote more independent shops. To encourage industry, enhance our buildings. Concept streets that look nicer and are a pleasure to the eye – this can contribute to helping the mental wellbeing.

  1. 6. Hannah Jones & Kaye Sibley – North Somerset Council Lettings Team

Since the start of this year, the Lettings Team has facilitated 173 new tenancies, creating 358 bed spaces for families and single people in housing need.

33 of these were with landlords new to our service.  Many have returned to give us further properties, and have recommended our service to other landlords.

On the these new tenancy starts we issued bonds to the value of £47,095 and cash deposits to the value of £33,864.

All but 10 of these tenancies are still live.  Of the 10 that have moved on there were 2 claims made against bonds provided by the Lettings Team, totalling £228.
Our landlord incentives programme has been in place since April 2018.  This is a one-off funding stream financed by central government to offset the impact on local housing supply due to Hinkley Point C.  We have made payments to landlords of 63 eligible properties so far.

We have issued grant payments of £35,827.
‘Thank you’ payments of £7309.
Total payments under the incentive scheme  £43.439.

This money has been used to improve the standard of privately rented properties across North Somerset and to offer a ‘thank you’ to landlords willing to work with us in providing our clients with good quality, affordable accommodation.

Even though we are averaging approximately 18-22 new sign-ups each month, we still currently have 193 households that we are actively trying to house.  Many are working, with excellent tenancy histories and great references, and landlord always get the final say on who they accept for their property.

We are particularly keen to find landlords who will work with us to help house rough sleepers and clients from the Night Assessment Centre, and can provide enhanced incentives and support on a case by case basis.

The Lettings Team now has our own dedicated tenancy support officer, Deb Andrews, who works with any clients we house who may need help to set up or sustaining their tenancy.

We provide a comprehensive lettings service free to landlords, including ongoing support throughout the tenancy, so if you’d like more information or have any properties available please get in touch.

We are holding a landlord’s information event at the Winter Gardens on 20 November 2019, 8.30am – 12pm on a drop-in basis.  There will be representatives from Department of Work & Pensions, Private Rented Housing Team, The Night Assessment Centre and tenancy support to answer any questions you may have.

  1. 7. Pete McNeill – Centre for Sustainable Energy First Time Central Heating Fund & Warmer Homes, Advice & Money Project.

CSE is an independent national charity that was initiated in 1979. Our vision is a world where sustainability is second nature, carbon emissions have been cut to safe levels and fuel poverty has been replaced by energy justice. Our mission is to share our knowledge and practical experience to empower people to change the way they think and act about energy. We do this by giving advice, managing innovative energy projects, training and supporting others to act, and undertaking research and policy analysis. Our clients and funders include national, regional and local government and associated agencies, and companies in the energy sector.

The WHAM project is an innovative new model for supporting Bristol and North Somerset’s most vulnerable residents – giving advice on energy, money, benefits and carrying out home repairs. The Support offered will cover:

  •  Advice on how to monitor, check and pay for your energy bills.
  •  Help to make your home safe and secure.
  •  Advice on legal, immigration and housing issues.
  •  Advice on benefits and money.
  •  Help with budgeting and debt advice.
  •  Tips on managing your energy use and cutting bills.
  •  Accessing grants for heating repairs and upgrades.

From the start, WHAM has been funded by Bristol City Council through the Bristol Impact Fund. In 2019, the project was able to expand thanks for additional funding from the Bristol Energy Fuel Good Fund and the Warm Home Fund from Affordable Warmth Solutions CIC

The Warm Home Fund is offered by the National Grid to support properties with electric heating systems, or for properties that have individual room heaters, either gas or electric, to upgrade to gas central heating. Bristol City Council are making funding available for residents in Bristol, Bath and North Somerset. You will need to meet certain criteria to access the funding, but it is available to tenants and owners alike.

Q1. Gas central heating will be phased out by 2025, why should start to replace electric heating with gas heating?

A1 –  The Future Homes Standard will be introduced in 2025. High Carbon heating will be phased out of New Build properties. Right now we have funding available to make energy costs more affordable  to help tenants/owner in older properties reduce expensive heating costs. The current average cost of electricity per kWh is about 0.17p, and the average gas cost per kWh is 0.4p.

  1. 8. Any other business – NLCE training courses.

Sam Jackson from the National Landlords Code of Excellence (NLCE) advised of the upcoming training courses and events for landlords. Click here for full details.

  •  NLCE Accreditation Training Day / Refresher Course – 1 November 2019
  •  The Tenant Fees Act 2019 – The Implications Explained – Webinar – This pre-recorded webinar is available to access until 12 November 2019
  •  NLCE Accreditation Training Day  / Refresher Course – 15 November 2019
  •  Landlord Breakfast Event – Weds. 20th November 2019. – 08.30 – 12.00 (drop-in basis)
  •  NLCE CPD Course: Letting to tenants on benefits & Universal Credit – 29 November – 14.00-17.00

Date of next meeting is Wednesday 15 January 2020

New Council Chamber

6:30 pm

Please make your way in for the meeting through the Ceremonial Town Hall entrance, a member of staff will come and collect you.

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