Jane Brannan and Cath Fairweather were welcomed to the meeting and provided Members with an overview of the Private Sector Housing and Environment Service. It was explained that the service proactively deals with all issues capable of having a detrimental impact on others in the community, including anti-social behaviour and criminal activity, environmental issues, property/housing conditions, fly-tipping and littering. This is done in conjunction with other agencies such as SYP, SYFRS, Social Care, Landlords/letting agents and local residents. A number of case studies were outlined, including the work that had been done and the outcomes from the intervention. The service has been commissioned by other area councils, including Dearne, Central and the North East.
A discussion took place around statutory responsibilities, including anti social behaviour and safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. In terms of private landlords, this becomes a statutory duty when offences are committed. Landlords have a duty to provide a safe home for every tenant and in some instances serious enforcement action has been taken. The Accredited Landlord Scheme was also discussed. It was felt that this scheme was imperfect and should be reviewed.
Members queried the size of the problem in the North Area Council area with regard to private landlords. Cath explained that she is aware of a number of streets in the area with a high concentration of private landlords. A huge proportion of her work relates to private tenants or landlords, with 65% of complaints received identified as emanating from privately rented properties. A similar problem sometimes occurs when Berneslai Homes properties have been sold under the Right to Buy scheme and then rented out privately. A number of new build properties have also been bought by private individuals and then rented out.
Jane and Cath were thanked for their attendance and contribution.