Tenants and leaseholders in Thanet council’s six towerblocks will be issued with a new service charge of £133 per year to pay for the employment of two new, dedicated housing response officers.
If approved the charge will be introduced from April 1 next year.
The aim is to fund the £62,650 annual cost of the service which will mean the two officers work solely at high rise blocks Invicta House in Margate, Trove Court and Kennedy House and Staner Court in Ramsgate and also Brunswick Court and Harbour Towers in Ramsgate.
Last month Cabinet members backed proposals for two new contracts related to the isle’s council-owned blocks. One was for cleaning services in communal areas and a second was for security patrols and waking watch services,
The twice nightly patrols at Staner Court, Trove Court, Kennedy House, Brunswick Court, Harbour Towers and Invicta House have been responding to issues, including rubbish and other items left in communal areas, noise and antisocial behaviour, blocked rubbish chutes and activations of fire alarm systems.
The patrols record and report all issues through to the council’s Housing Management officers so that any follow up actions needed can be arranged.
A document for Thanet council Cabinet members says: “More resources are required to improve the cleanliness and appearance of our tower blocks. This can be achieved by creating two new HRO roles within the TLS (Tenant and Leaseholder) structure. To finance the two new roles, it is recommended that the council introduce an additional service charge to the tenants and leaseholders of these blocks.”
Thanet council says it receives many complaints about litter, flytipping and weeds but ‘the barrier’ to dealing with issues to a higher standard is the number of frontline staff it has out and about on the estates. The report adds: “We therefore need to find a way to increase the number of HRO’s to improve our service provision.”
A council consultation asking if tenants and leaseholders would support increased housing officers was responded to by 76 out of 455 (16.7%) people. Of those who took part 46% were in favour.
A breakdown of the increased costs that will be covered by the new service charge – which equates to £2.56 a week – is:
- 2 x HRO Officers £55,700
- Officer training/equipment etc. £1k per annum
- New van (approx 5 year life) £20k / 5 years
- Fuel charge (approx £60 per month ) £720
- Insurance premium for van £1,010
- Road tax estimate £220
- Annual Cost Of Service £62,650
Number of Units in tower blocks 471
Annual charge per dwelling £133.01 divided by 52 weeks £2.56per week
Income from leaseholders 5,457.92 Income from tenants 57,241.60
Total Income £62,699.52
For residents claiming Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, service charges for communal areas can be claimed and they will not be financially impacted
The blocks consist of 9% leasehold, purchased under the Right to Buy legislation; 39% sublets and 77% of tenants on benefits
Cabinet members will discuss the proposal at a meeting on December 16. If agreed the proposal will go before full council to be approved.