Agenda item

Notice of Opposition Business

(Time limit 30 minutes)

 

Motion 1

Holding Housing Associations Accountable for Damp and Mould Issues

Councillor Wahid to MOVE

Councillor Byrne to SECOND

 

Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (Oldham Council) must lead from the front to ensure that our residents benefit from safe and secure housing. As such, OMBC must ensure that housing stock is maintained to the highest quality.

It is especially the case for socially rented properties. There are housing

association properties in the borough that are sadly affected by damp

and mould. This is a silent killer as so tragically seen in the case of Awab Ishak in our neighbouring Rochdale Council. However, the prevalence of such houses suffering with damp and mould is feared to be in the thousands in Oldham. One can only draw their attention to the increasing interest from litigators from the legal industry to appreciate this is potentially a very big problem that requires immediate action.

Housing associations must do more given that they have a duty of care

to the most vulnerable. It is time Oldham Council holds these corporate

landlords to account.

Too often a culture of secrecy and fear surrounds

housing associations and they are seemingly unaccountable to many elected members and residents. We must change that and remind them of the important duty of care that they have to local people. Amongst the damp and mould issues, all too often many residents who have lived in an area for several years and may have started a family are uprooted from that area due to them having a lower priority over others who may have no links to that ward. We believe that having links to a local area is important and that Oldham Council needs to strengthen the local connection test by ensuring that a set number of new build properties are reserved for local people, i.e people who live in Hollinwood get a home in Hollinwood etc.

Temporary accommodation and management of displaced families is in

drastic need of restructure to ensure the most vulnerable in our society

are managed in accordance with Human Rights Act 1998.

It is also important that Oldham Council reiterate its commitment to HM

Armed Forces personnel and ensure that they are always given priority

and services that they need and deserve.

 

This Council acknowledges:

• The letter written to all Councils by Michael Gove (Secretary of

State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) to council leaders and social housing providers stating that damp and mould complaints must be handled “with sufficient seriousness” and the deaths, such that of two year old Awaab Ishak must ‘never be allowed to happen again’.

• That under the Housing Act 2004, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council has a legal duty to review housing conditions in their district, identify actions required to remedy ‘Category 1 Hazards’ and then - “they must take the appropriate enforcement action in relation to the hazard”.

• That under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, mould is designated as a ‘Category 1 Hazard’, meaning that local authorities can serve hazard awareness and improvement notices and can also take other emergency action, where housing associations are falling short.

 

Therefore, this Council resolves to:

1.    Ensure that repairs are actioned through proper inspections, especially to repairs that need to be made to tenants’ homes that can prevent damp and mould. Such as clearing guttering, sealing windows, replacing faulty extraction fans in bathrooms and kitchens as well as providing cavity wall insulation.

2.    Conduct and publish a full damp and mould survey of properties in the OMBC area. Ensuring that they prioritise damp and mould complaints and resolve them without delay.

3.    Empower, educate, and enable independent advice and representation for all tenants, on the process for raising and tracking a damp or mould complaint and what their rights are in challenging any delays.

4.    Where progress is too slow, to use powers including but not limited to hazard awareness notices and hazard improvement notices to ensure that damp and mould complaints are treated with the urgency they are due.

5.    To ask the Chief Executive and or Deputy Chief Executive/s to write to all housing associations outlining the above resolutions and stating this council’s strongly held view that nobody should have to live in a damp, cold or unsafe home.

6.    That this Council will take the necessary legal action against any housing association that fails in its duty of care and that puts tenants at risk.

7.    Compel Housing Associations to provide alternative accommodation whilst works are being undertaken in cases that homes are deemed un-inhabitable.

8.    Strengthen the local connection test and allocate a set number of homes for local people within each district for people who live in that district to strengthen our communities and to priorities local homes for local people.

9.    Ensure that all residents approaching housing services are asked a question that will identify them at an early stage if they fall into the category of being vulnerable.

10.Regularly review staff training processes to ensure that all relevant staff are aware of the housing policies specific to the vulnerable community.

11.Ensure that all residents approaching housing services are asked a question that will identify their membership of the Armed Forces community. So that those that served this Country are given top priority for housing.

12.Use discretion in waiving the five-year limit and allow veterans to access housing support with an exemption from the local connection requirement regardless of the time elapsed since they left Service

 

Motion 2

A fair deal for private renters
Councillor Harkness to MOVE

Councillor Sykes to SECOND

This Council notes:

-          The number of private renters in Oldham has grown significantly over the last decade

-          There are more than 4.4 million UK residents who live in a private rented home

-          In England, 1 in 8 private rented homes have at least one severe hazard, and 4% of private rented homes have an energy efficiency rating of F or G, meaning they are also illegal to rent out.

-          The end of a private sector tenancy is one of the leading causes of homelessness.

-          Black and minority ethnic households are more likely to experience poor housing outcomes including homelessness.

-          Oldham Council has a statutory obligation to ensure that no private rented tenant is living in substandard accommodation

 

This Council believes:

-          Private renters should not have to live in homes that are damp, in a poor state of repair, overcrowded or unaffordable

-          That data and communication resources at the Council’s disposal can be better used to engage with private renters

-          More frequent events, such as the Landlord Forum held in November 2019, would offer an opportunity for all landlords operating in Oldham to meet and discuss the issues that affect them and their tenants

-          That too little is known about people who face homelessness, whether they are evicted or are forced to leave their family or friends’ home, and this impedes efforts to prevent homelessness

-          The Government should bring forward the legislation it pledged in December 2019 immediately so that tenants can no longer be evicted without a reason

 

This Council resolves to protect private renters by:

1.    Serving improvement notices on homes with severe hazards to invalidate Section 21 notices and enable Rent Repayment Orders if the landlord fails to comply

2.    Serving improvement notices for excess cold in homes that fail Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards

  1. Helping private renters claim back rent through rent repayment orders when they are eligible to do so
  2. Enforcing the ban on letting agent fees by issuing fines to criminal letting agents
  3. Taking action on overcrowded homes through licensing, increased inspections and a strategy for increasing the supply of homes for families and single adults
  4. Committing not to use landlord licensing to enforce immigration law
  5. Working more closely with the local police force to protect private renters from illegal evictions and appoint one person accountable for enforcing the Protection from Eviction Act
  6. Publishing the breakdown of homelessness cases arising from the private rented sector by ethnicity
  7. Recording and publish the tenure breakdown of homelessness cases, in particular those arising from family/friends being unable to house someone
  8. Joining with Generation Rent, the national voice of private renters, in campaigning for the legislative change private renters need to live in safe, secure and affordable homes.
  9. Supporting Generation Rent’s campaign for a National Register of Landlords
  10. Making sure the Council website has useful advice and information for private renters that is easy to find; makes it easier for private renters to understand how the council can help enforce their rights, sets reasonable expectations; and allows for checking if a privately rented home has a landlord licence
  11. Using Landlord Licensing, Council Tax, Energy Performance Certificate & Tenancy Deposit data to identify private rented homes to communicate directly with private renters.

 

 

 

MOTION 3

Article 4 (1) direction on small HMOs

Councillor Hince to MOVE

Councillor Sykes to SECOND

 

Residents from across Shaw and Crompton have contacted both the Shaw & Crompton Independents and Liberal Democrats concerned with the expansion of HMOs.

Whilst there is very little we can do to prevent full planning applications from being considered, we can act to close the loophole that allows for permitted development rights for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) where between three and six unrelated people share basic amenities, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Oldham Council currently permits, without the need for planning permission under ‘permitted development rights’, the change of use of a typical dwelling house occupied by a single household in use class C3, to a property used as a ‘small’ HMO that is shared by between three and six unrelated people in use class C4.

Such concerns were put before the Shaw & Crompton Parish Council on 29/08/23.

At this meeting the Parish Council recognised that:

·         There is an increasing threat to the residents of Shaw & Crompton from speculator developers purchasing, and outbidding with ease, domestic dwellings designed for housing young families, further pricing them out of the area. 

·         There is growing concern from local residents about the increasing harm the conversion of domestic dwellings designed for family housing are having on the fabric of residential streets and the overall neighbourhood.

·         Clusters of HMO premises that are emerging in neighbourhoods within the parish due to the utilisation of permitted development rights.

·         It is time that the Parish Council took immediate steps to safeguard the fabric of our community.

On this basis the Parish Council voted unanimously to , as a matter of urgency, for OMBC to seek to approve a Shaw & Crompton Parish wide Article 4 Direction to remove permitted development rights for changes of use from dwellings (Use Class C3) to Houses in Multiple Occupation (Use Class C4). 

 

This Council resolves to,

1.    For the OMBC executive to consider and investigate the making of a direction pursuant to Article 4(1) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 on a Shaw & Crompton Parish wide basis to withdraw the permitted development rights to convert a dwellinghouse (C3) to a House in Multiple Occupation (C4) is appropriate, and justified, to prevent harm to local amenity and the wellbeing of the parish area.

If direction (1) is approved by the council executive then following resolutions are to be applied.

2.    To approve the making of the Article 4(1) Direction for the Parish Boundary.

3.    To delegate authority to OMBC to carry out all necessary consultation following the making of the Direction, to notify the Secretary of State in accordance with statutory requirements and to take all other action considered necessary or expedient to give effect to the matters set out in this motion.

4.    To confirm that, the Shaw & Crompton Parish wide Article 4(1) Direction will be effective with immediate effect once made.

 

Oldham Council leadership cannot hide behind government legislation on this issue. As it has the authority to give residents both a voice and a transparent process to ensure that their views and community factors are considered.

As it is expected that the Council values resident’s views and opinions and puts communities at the forefront of decision making.

 The adoption of this motion is an obvious step to demonstrating to the people of this town that the council is prepared to act in their interests. And not just pay lip service to concerns relating to their communities.

 

Motion 4

The Protection and Safeguarding of Children

Councillor Rea to MOVE

Councillor Hindle to SECOND

 

The protection and safeguarding of our children should be a priority for all of us. Reviews on historical CSE have been in front of us before. Regular requests for independent Inquiries continue to be refused.

Whilst we continue to seek justice for survivors of historical CSE we cannot ignore the fact that it is still happening now, that grooming is still happening and that grooming gangs are active.

The Leader of the Council has previously stated that CSE has and in all probability will continue to occur in the Borough.

 

Council notes that:

Information and knowledge are the most powerful tools that we have. We need to educate our children of the signs of grooming and showing them who or where to go with any concerns. We need to give them the feeling that they can report anything in complete confidence. Being pro-active and highlighting this issue could prevent more children from becoming victims/survivors.

This issue is above any party-political leanings. Together we need to eradicate this corruption which lies within our society.

 

Council resolves to;

·         Commit to facilitating relevant sessions across the Borough

·         Bring together all departments within the Council and work with other external bodies to deliver specific sessions on CSE and grooming.

·         Work with partners to formulate and develop a straight-forward and clear package which will be delivered to all Year 7 students in the Borough every year as a matter of course.

·         Work towards rolling sessions out to Year 6 students