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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Haynes and Gakhal.
Declarations of interest
Councillors Angus and Mak Singh declared interests in item 5 of the agenda as they were both landlords.
Councillor Phil Bateman declared an interest in item 5 as he was known to one of the witnesses, Mr Richard Hall of L & A Lettings.
To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.
Resolved that the minutes of the meeting held on 23 March 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
[To consider any matter arising from the minutes]
Councillor Brackenridge referred to the recent tragic events at the Grenfell Tower and suggested that the issue should be referred to Scrutiny Board, with a view to a potential Scrutiny Review.
Councillor Phil Bateman agreed and referred to the potential impact on the public’s confidence. He suggested that emergency planning procedures should be reviewed, including the provision of temporary accommodation if an incident occurred.
Resolved that the issues of fire protection and emergency planning be referred to Scrutiny Board so that it can determine how to look at these issues.
To consider how the Local Authority should work with landlords, tenants and stakeholders to improve private sector housing in Wolverhampton.
The Chair referred to the housing crisis at both national and local levels and the duty of the Council to tackle homelessness under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. He referred to the importance of working in partnership and to the witnesses who had been invited to attend the meeting in four sessions.
Estate Agents, Richard Hall (L & A Lettings) and Courtney Downing (Proactive Property)
Richard Hall had an established business, set up over nine years ago, with over 300 properties in Wolverhampton, Walsall and surrounding areas.
Courtney Downing had recently set up his business and had five properties.
The witnesses were asked what did a good vetting scheme for both tenants and landlords include?
Richard Hall stated that word of mouth and personal contact was key, prospective tenants should be visited in current properties. Local authorities were also providing support; however, that varied depending on the authority.
Courtney Downing agreed that personal contact was vital and he actively encouraged communication with all his tenants and would continue to do so.
The witnesses were asked what incentives should there be in the Rent with Confidence scheme that would attract more estate agents to use it?
Richard Hall considered that the Rent with Confidence scheme would slowly identify the better landlords and drive up standards. The regeneration in the city centre would also encourage good landlords to the area. He stated that it was easy to identify poor landlords and in terms of references, no one came with a bad reference so personal judgements had to be made. He stated that it would be helpful to have more than one month’s rent deposit and it would be helpful if the Council could facilitate such a scheme.
Courtney Downing suggested that additional information about the scheme and how everyone could help each other would be helpful. He stated that he had previously been unaware of what the Council was doing. He confirmed that accreditation and ratings were very important and it would be helpful to have support to find landlords with good properties.
The witnesses were asked if other local authorities that they dealt with had a better communication process with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on Universal Credit and Direct Payment?
Richard Hall referred to the Walsall Steering Group which had a representative from the DWP and the National Landlords Association (NLA). He stated that it would be helpful to have a Steering Group at Wolverhampton again to build relationships.
Officers confirmed that there had previously been a Private Sector Forum and Steering Group; however, due to issues in respect of the direction of the Group it had been disbanded.
The witnesses were thanked for attending the meeting and participating in the session.
Landlords, Richard Hall (L & A Lettings) and Ranjit Uppal (UAS Properties)
Ranjit Singh stated that he had set up his property business in 1993 with over 100 apartments across the city centre with over 280 tenants.
The witnesses were ... view the full minutes text for item 5.