Thanet council gains government funding to tackle landlords renting out ‘cold homes’

Rented homes below energy standards are being targeted

Thanet council has been awarded £34,742 to crack down on landlords and letting agents renting out homes with sub standard insulation and energy ratings.

A ten week ‘Thanet Cold Homes Finder’ project will target those renting out poorly insulated and energy inefficient properties.

The funding was announced on Friday (January 3) as part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant Fund.

The project will tackle the issue of people living in cold homes. Two officers will work on the scheme to identify all privately rented homes in Thanet which have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. Unless exempt, privately rented homes should have an EPC rating of E or above.

Enforcement

The  funding will be used to take enforcement action against the minority of landlords who let inadequate properties and to advise tenants of their housing rights. The aim is also to prevent excess winter deaths and lift people out of fuel poverty.

In 2016/17 there were 90 excess winter deaths recorded for Thanet, down from 120 the previous year. The same year Thanet recorded 12.3% of homes in fuel poverty – the highest in Kent.

Living in fuel poverty is defined as being on a lower income and being in a home which cannot be kept warm
at reasonable cost.

Excess winter deaths are defined as the difference between the number of deaths during the four winter months (December–March) and the average number of deaths during the preceding four months (August–November) and the following four months (April-July).

The message from the council is that landlords who rent out cold homes will be found out.

Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Helen Whitehead, said: “Excess cold causes more harm than any other hazard in the home environment. Tragically it accounts for many excess winter deaths each year. This funding will go some way to help us tackle this issue and means we will be able to undertake proactive work to identify those landlords whose properties do not meet the standards we expect for our residents.

“This project has the potential to really help people living in cold homes. A warmer home can mean better health and an improved energy performance could reduce fuel bills so the benefits are tangible ones. The funding is welcome news at this time of the year and will be released immediately so our teams can get on with the work right away.”

Poor insulation

Thanet has around 66,892 homes, of which 17,271 (26%) are privately rented. This is significantly higher than the national average of 19%.

Much of the rented housing stock in Thanet was built prior to 1919 and is poorly insulated. As from April 1, privately rented homes cannot be let if they have an EPC rating of F or G, unless subject to statutory exemption. Tenancies which started on or after April 1, 2018 are already subject to this restriction.

The council appointed the Building Research Establishment (“BRE”) to carry out a private sector housing stock modelling exercise for Thanet in 2017. The report and its associated database suggested there were some 978 privately rented homes in Thanet that were subject to an EPC rating of F or G. This represents some 5.7% of the private rented stock.

The council is also recruiting a new full time Home Energy Officer who will work strategically across departments to promote energy efficiency measures in the private rented and owner occupied sectors. This follows the climate emergency declaration made by the authority last year.

Read here: New Thanet council plan aimed at tackling housing crisis

20 Comments

  1. A rather inacurate article, the regulation that came in 2018 was unenforcable, under the legislation improvement measures were linked to the “greendeal” when the greendeal was scrapped it meant the legislation was meaningless. So new legislation has been approved.
    The council already has the HOUSING HEALTH SAFETY RATING SYSTEM available to assess properties but rarely uses it.
    Like many people I’m still waiting to see who’ll be held accountable for the EAST KENT HOUSING fiasco and where the money is going to come from to bring the councils housing stock upto the required legislative standards, buildings still do not comply with the 15 year old fire safety order act, many also do not meet the requirements of the legionella regs.
    Councillor Whitehead appears very quiet on such matters, but I assume the tags of Rogue, Criminal etc are applicable to TDC as a landlord.

    • Not sure what the inaccuracy is, the article tells you about the funding and how the council aims to use it. Happy to ask if the 2018 legislation is unenforceable. Fire safety issue has been raised in the article on Invicta House

      • The 2018 legislation is unenforceable as far as TDC Private sector housing is concerned, hopefully the new legislation receives more attention, however initially it only applies to new tenancies and on top of that there is the £3500 all measures exemption, which the unscrupulous can finagle to avoid their responsibilities. The council will likely catch very few properties.
        What response have you had from Councillor Whitehead regarding fire safety and the rest of the councils and ekh’s failures?

      • In addition, the use of BRE models is more than suspect, in 2011 as part of the selective licensing consultation a similar model suggested that 58-85% of rented properties in the designated area were likely to have class 1 hazards under HHSRS (such hazards the council has a statutory duty to act on) , in reality no such numbers were found to correct.
        TDC is as usual very quick to seize upon convenient statistics.

        • Perhaps you should email Helen Whitehead with this info as she might not be aware of it. It could be useful for her to know, I found it quite interesting and will have a read up on it a bit more later

          • I’ve been in contact with Helen before about a property in her ward, as soon as my questions got too difficult for her she stopped answering my emails. I rather suspect she ran into the usual problem of suddenly finding that she can do little other than what is sanctioned as council policy and as with most councillors rather than tell you this they just ignore communication.
            In addition I’ve also spoken to her about selective licensing and the state of EKH etc, but there was little interest, again my expectation is that she soon found out that revenue raising and convenience soon trumps real action.
            A nice person but stuck within a poor organisation, she’ll just become the same as Councillor Game , a face to put to TDC housing propaganda.

  2. Many congratulations to Helen and her team on directing attention to so many of the long standing housing problems in Thanet and starting on the long term amelioration methods
    Let us hope that Council officers and councillors will work hard together on these vital matters

  3. Local Chap is spot on. TDC have themselves proved to be a rogue landlord who have recklessly endangered tenants lives via their lack of oversight and management of East Kent Housing. Quite how they have the front to “crack down” on any other landlord is mind boggling and totally risible.

  4. This is another TDC pot calling the kettleblack senario. I believe it is revenue raising and nothing will be done, just like with the selective licensing fiasco. Where is that money going? Why are there so many let properties in those areas that are in bad state of repair, overcrowding multiple occupation (HMO) lets and nothing gets done? TDC are on their second round of selective licensing but still haven’t sorted hardy anything they get the revenue for. People are living in unfit homes in poverty in Cliftonville, but they know that already!!

    • They’ve not even inspected all properties as yet in what is nearly 9 years, they concentrate on “paper offences” not submitting certs on time, no licence application etc, but they are so keen to do it they don’t know the rules. They’ve an email system that loses attachments.
      Housing officers have to attend in pairs, but family welfare officers etc visit known problem families alone. Report a property for disrepair or overcrowding and nothing will happen. The justification for selective licensing looked at every item with the exception of migration, which was totally avoided. Crime and antisocial behaviour statistics had no breakdown , the council relying on a “self evident link” ( lots of crime , lots of private rented housing , so must be the cause), most of the problems were/are associate with care homes, kids homes, bail hostels and hmo’s. Social housing has twice the crime associated with it than private sector self contained accomodation.
      Eastern european gang prostituting children in arthur road ( good few years back) never made the papers as there was a concious effort to not stigmatise the immigrant community.
      At one time there were 11 released sex offenders in one street, council will make no efforts to deal with residents dumping rubbish and under the planning/building control departments no efforts are made to ensure that planning conditions are complied with (not my job) but by time problems come to light its considered too late to act.
      Last report on selective licensing was 5 years ago, no doubt they’ll try and bring it back in 2021 on lots of dodgy stats.
      Made my case to Clive Hart in 2016 and the local councillors , decided i should speak to the head of housing , who refused to meet.
      Sent a summary and counter argument to the oversight and scrutiny committee not one of them even acknowledged receipt until after they’d rubber stamped proposals.
      As you’ll have guessed i’m a cliftonville landlord, who in 20 years of renting there and lived for 8 years has a pretty good idea of what goes on. The system does nothing to encourage decent landlords nor does it deal with the bad ones. So guess which ones flourish.
      Paramount property services ( used by tdc for emergency housing) won’t use property in the selective licensing area as it adds to the costs and is rather restrictive.
      Pointless filling thanet with ever more people decanted out of london without the jobs and resources to give them a decent standard of living. Fingers crossed the steady trickle of londoners moving into cliftonville is maintained and they stay, but they need to realise that thanet really is a world of its own and Athelstan Road in another galaxy.

      • Could you please give a link to any documents which show that “Social housing has twice the crime associated with it than private sector rented accommodation?” Thank you. Having lived in housing co-ops for about 30 years, I would like to learn some facts about this.

        • Its based on a freedom of information request to kent police asking for crime and antisocial behaviour statistics for margate central and cliftonville west , it was collated on the basis of the tenure of the property at which an offence occured or an offender lived. On a weighted basis,

          With a base line of 1 for self contained private sector rented accomodation

          Twice as much crime was associated with social/council housing

          36 x for care homes, hostels, hmo’s , bail hostels, childrens homes.

          Care homes distort the figures by themselves as they have to report any incident notified to them. They also distort the number of health service interventions for an area. In one presentation about the private rented sector TDC included health service interventions at the Deaf School , which hugely altered the figures. At one time Hatherley court in Edgar Road would have benefited from its own dedicated police officer ( though much improved now) , similarly the Leslie hotel that was, then the Glenwood Hotel (again not the issue it was) both had huge problems.

          No one denies the area has problems , but poor use of data to actively pursue an agenda helps nobody. Identifying poor quality housing is in the first instance a simple matter of walking the streets with your eyes open and sharing data with police, health and social services. But there is no will within TDC to tackle the problem.

          • The statistics you refer to are local, then.

            Local chap is quick enough to blame TDC but surely the governmental policies for several decades are what should be blamed. Since the right to buy was introduced the amount of council-owned housing has declined drastically. Private rents have gone up to largely unaffordable levels.. Why doesn’t the English parliament rescind the right to buy and help councils to buy and restore empty properties? I think the Welsh and Scottish assemblies have already rescinded the right to buy- which seemed at the time to be nothing more than a bribe by Thatcher’s government, an attempt to get Labour voters to vote Tory.

          • Those particular statistics are yes, they were in response to TDC’s assertions about the levels of crime and antisocial behaviour.
            As for the cost of renting, in 2002 a 2 bed flat in cliftonville was around 450, add inflation to that and it’d be 720 but the average is around 650. There is most certainly a lack of social housing, but its incredibly expensive to fund, for example the development at the top of Dalby Square was funded by central and local government so that the social provider only needed to finance 48k per unit, on that basis its easy to provide lower rents, but the cost to the taxpayer is considerable. Which is why not enough is built. The private sector if the truth were told represents good value. That the failure of policy over the last 50 years means there is a housing crisis makes it convenient to blame the private sector is pure politics. Thatcher bribed with right to buy, brown tried with increased housing benefit, boris has done it with brexit, corbyn failed with free broadband. Politicians effectively buy votes , probably bot the best waty to run a country but hey ho.
            As for TDC , its been a basket case for years , thanet is poor and needs huge amounts of cash to sort itself out, quite where that comes from if it ever does remains to be seen. Until then we’ll lurch from crisis to crisis flogging off anything that stands still long enough, until there’s nothing left . There’s too much relying on dreamland, turner, pleasurama, ramsgate harbour., given thanets track record at dealing with things blind optimism is hardly warranted.

  5. Sorry badly written, trickle referred to those moving and buying as against those displaced here by london boroughs dealing with their housing lists

  6. About time too My Grandaughter lifed in a very nice flat in Cliftonville a few years ago top floor high ceilings with a couple of storage heaters .the place was so cold and cost a fortune to heat 24hrs that she had to live with her mother during the coldest months with a young child .

    • Cliftonville has plenty of such properties, built in an era where coal fires and servants were the norm and often houses built as summer retreats.
      The high ceilings and big rooms mean they are big spaces to heat, being the top floor, if its a leasehold there may be issues getting permission/access to insulate properly, if there is no gas supply to the building there is little that can be achieved within the £3500 “all measures exemption” on a legislative level.
      Which means that the property is really not suitable for letting at the rent levels achievable in cliftonville. The best hope is that an owner occupier buys it and has the means to make considerable investment in the building to bring it up to a more modern standard.
      So as ever the headlines often don’t match reality,

  7. Just a thought and to cut through an awful lot of technical points made by Local chap, just remind us who has been in government for 10 years overseeing what is labelled “austerity “. Forget the jargon folks, it’s plain to see that TDC like many poorer areas has been left to rot and denied the investment needed due to political dogma. I’m not a great fan of our council as they traditionally are made up self interested “what can it do for me” individuals alongside some genuine good people who find their voice gets drowned out. Sad state of affairs really, but going back to Local chaps incredible knowledge which to be honest, sounds like it’s being read out of a civil servants “guide to bullshit” manual. Incidentally, how much did KCC hand over to the Turner Centre recently?
    But, we’ve put them back in power so be prepared for many decent councillors like Karen banging their heads against a brick wall.

    • Afternoon SIAB, my comments are based on dealing with the council and having been a landlord for nigh on 25 years, trying to do my job properly and as such having an understanding of the legislation that affects me both directly and indirectly.
      The comments I make are for the most part trying to show that the various statements from TDC and councillors are often more than a little misleading which give people the impression great things will be done , when in reality little will.
      We hear tough stances on overcrowding , but the council will usually cite it not being in “ the publics interest” to do anything.
      A property in St. Johns road was a major hazard,
      No lighting in common areas
      No floor coverings
      Water leaks
      Defficient fire separation
      Insecure front door

      The building was a centre for drug dealing/taking and antisocial behaviour, police and council well aware, nothing done for over 3 years, it took a dispute ending in a failed firebombing attack to get the council to take any action. Incidents since in Addington Road may suggest the problem has just moved.

      East kent Housing are an abject failure, have a read of the Shepwayvox website, you may consider what i type to be from a “civil servants bullshit manual” , by all means tell me where i’m wrong and point me in the right direction.

      The endless shouts of austerity, deprivation, etc etc, will never solve anything, thanet has been a basket case since i moved here in 87, we’ve had central and local government of every hue since, none have done much to help.

      Who was in charge when the live animal export farce took place and why was there no advice taken or heeded. I expect we all have a dim view of live exports but its a legal trade quite why TDC thought it could stop it is beyond me, the costs have just about crippled the council.

      Ya boo politics have got us to this point, they won’t get it out of it, a bit of factual reality will hopefully show why the we are in a cycle of constant failure.

      I look forward to some constructive comment.

Comments are closed.