Let’s Talk Housing Launched in Reading
Reading Borough Council has launched ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ – a three part consultation which takes a closer look at the housing issues which affect people in Reading the most.
Running from June until December, ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ will focus on talking to residents about strategies and policies that aim to improve the ways that the people in our town are housed.
The Council wants to engage with the community regarding a number of changes, new policies and new initiatives that could affect residents of Reading across all housing sectors. We want to hear from home owners and tenants of both the private rented and social sector, so that we can ensure that residents views are reflected in the decisions made and the way services are delivered in the future. We will also be listening to organisations that work in the housing sector and with homeless people to ensure that their experiences are included.
‘Let’s Talk Housing’ begins on 1 June with a detailed consultation Reading’s Private Rented Sector.
Reading is unique within Berkshire. Latest figures showing more than one in four households in Reading are made up of private rented accommodation and is estimated to be home to 75% of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) in Berkshire.
Redlands has a high proportion of such housing, particularly HMOs let to students.
Private rented accommodation can provide flexible and accessible housing solutions for many residents, but there is growing evidence that poor management in certain parts of the sector is impacting on the quality of neighbourhoods.
New research released last week by housing charity Shelter, based on a survey of 4,000 renters, shows that one in nine renters says their health has been affected by their landlord failing to carry out repairs or deal with poor conditions in their home. Shelter is warning that a minority of rogue landlords who are failing to meet their responsibilities to keep their properties in a decent state of repair are putting renters and their families at risk.
Reading Borough Council is one of 61 local council’s across England who have signed up to Shelter’s campaign, committing to do all they can to stamp out rogue landlords in their area. With one in four households in Reading now living in the private rented sector, the Council is keen to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of tenants are protected and that it takes a balanced approach to regulation and support of landlords.
Three separate questionnaires will be distributed over the coming weeks to residents, landlords and their agents and other stakeholders. The questionnaires will also be available to fill in online at www.reading.gov.uk/letstalkhousing and available at libraries, children’s and community centres etc as well as targeted at households and businesses in areas where there are particularly high levels of private rented accommodation.
‘Let’s Talk Housing’ road shows will be touring neighbourhoods in Reading over the course of the consultation providing an opportunity to see what the Council offers and complete questionnaires. A particular focus will be given to gathering feedback from traditionally hard to reach groups.
Councillor Rachel Eden, Lead Member for Housing at Reading Borough Council, said:
“In Reading we want to live in decent homes in good neighbourhoods as part of connected and strong communities. The Council signed up to Shelter’s ‘Evict Rogue Landlords’ campaign last year, and the launch of ‘Lets Talk Housing’ is an important step in the work to drive up standards for all our homes, starting with a focus on the private rented sector. This consultation will ask landlords, tenants and neighbours about their experiences and help to make the private rented sector work better for everyone.”
Assistant Lead Councillor for Housing, Councillor Richard Davies, said:
“More than a quarter of households in Reading live in private rented homes so it is a major priority for this Council that we drive up standards in that sector.
“We want to hear about the experiences of people who live in the private rented sector, the problems they face and the things that can be done to help improve things. There are some great landlords in Reading and we want to do all we can to level the playing field for those that want to offer decent accommodation to their tenants, so we are keen to hear from them as well as Estate and Letting Agents about what obstacles or barriers they encounter.
“HMOs can also bring with other issues which can affect local neighbourhoods, like pressures on parking spaces or increased noise levels for example. Whilst the Council is already doing things like placing controls on the number of new HMO’s which can be created in a particular area, we want to know what else we can do.”
Campbell Robb, Chief Executive for Shelter, added:
“Every day at Shelter we see the devastating impact rogue landlords have on people’s lives, and we’ve been campaigning to urge Government and Councils to crack down on this small but highly dangerous minority who make people’s lives a misery.
“We urge other councils to follow Reading Borough Council’s lead and do everything in their power to crack down on the worst offenders in their area and stamp out rogue landlords for good.”
For more information go to www.reading.gov.uk/letstalkhousing
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