United Welsh Housing Association
Local Lettings Policy
Citadel Close, Sirhowy, Tredegar
In agreement with Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, United Welsh Housing Association will let all properties at Citadel Close, Sirhowy, Tredegar under a separate Local Lettings Policy.
The Welsh Government Delivery Outcomes for Housing Associations in Wales include the expected outcome that ‘we let homes in a fair and transparent way’…and that we should be able to demonstrate that ‘access to our homes is fair and open, and we work with others to ensure routes into our housing are well publicized, easy to understand and simple to use. We give reasonable preference to those in greatest housing need, or are homeless, whilst maximizing choice and sustaining communities’.
The Regulatory Code for Housing Associations stipulates that ‘Association’s should have a fair selection policy and seek to achieve a balance between:
• The needs and preferences of applicants and transferees
• The need to maximize social inclusion
• The need to build stable communities
• The need to make best use of a publicly funded resource’
Scope and Background
Citadel Close is a block of 10 x one bedroom flats and 2 x 2 bedroom flats, situated next to an older persons living complex (Cronin Court) and within close proximity to GDAS and Woffington House a Housing and Care nursing home.
Historically Citadel Close Flats has had a high number of allocations of vulnerable individuals which include people with drug and alcohol dependency and mental health problems. This has resulted in high levels of anti-social behavior, high tenancy failure and high void times.
The results of this have been disturbance to the neighbours and surrounding businesses, reputational damage to United Welsh, increased costs due to intensive management. The anti-social behavior has resulted in above average wear and tear on the properties and communal areas leading to difficulties in keeping the building clear and in a presentable condition.
As a scheme it has attracted a poor reputation, and it appears to be in decline, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new tenants. In many cases it is only those who have no choice – those with multiple support needs, vulnerabilities, and challenging behaviour that will accept these properties. This, in turn, exacerbates the management issues, thus perpetuating the difficulties in re-letting the scheme.
There has been no local lettings policy attached to this block previously.
Aims and Objectives
The policy is intended to take account of the particular needs of the local area, as well as the specific issues identified above:
The need to build a stable/settled community
The need to build a balanced community
The need to reduce anti-social behaviour and the perception of anti-social behaviour
The need to prevent the decline of the area, and the reputation of the scheme
This extended Local Lettings Policy will make use of the lettings opportunity creating a sustainable community. Its aim is to maximise the number of tenants living on the site that can sustain tenancies in order to increase community cohesion and reduce any estate management/anti-social behaviour issues on the close. United Welsh Housing Association can confirm that they are still experiencing the same issues (Local Lettings Policy 2019/2020) and void turnaround has been very slow due to the reputation of the close.
17-28 Citadel Close has a notorious reputation for Anti-Social Behaviour and Drug dealing. There are often street homeless people sleeping in the communal hallway, and gangs of young people that target specific individuals for financial gain. Intelligence is constantly provided to the Police regarding various illegal activities, and within the last 6 months 2 injunctions have been obtained to prevent specific individuals from accessing the block.
Current tenants –
Citadel Close has 12 flats, two are currently void.
Running from January 2018 – January 2019
5 tenants have current mental health issues
6 tenants have support needs
4 tenants are experiencing financial difficulty
5 tenants are vulnerable and are currently being taken advantage of
5 tenants are involved in current ASB within the block
Anti - Social Behaviour
For the last 2 years the Anti-Social Behaviour has been constant, and range from
Violence towards residents
Violence to visitors
Violence to United Welsh staff
Violence towards contractors
Criminal damage to United Welsh property
People sleeping in the hallways
Non-residents using the communal areas to administer Heroin (Leaving their paraphilia behind)
Most recently a resident has destroyed their belongings and our property with an axe, which resulted in the Police removing this individual from the block.
The Anti-Social behaviour has cost the association thousands of pounds for repairs, two person visits, time spent managing the block, upgrading the CCTV systems, de-activating door fobs, additional clean ups, and removal of rubbish.
United Welsh will take action against all Anti-Social Behaviour however this is currently proving very difficult as either no one will report issues through fear, or the majority of the residents are involved in the same criminal act together.
Location Eligibility and Duration
The policy will apply to all properties that are being let at Citadel Close, Sirhowy, Tredegar. It requires preference to be given to those applicants as below: -
Where 2 or more applicants on the list have equal priority, preference will be given to applicants who are working or in training.
Applicants must have a successful previous occupancy history, references to be taken up, which will include private landlords/hostels or cases where Blaenau Gwent Council have knowledge of the applicant and are satisfied that they would be unlikely to cause a nuisance/housing management issues.No previous history of anti-social behaviour.
Applicants will not be considered if there are any current alcohol or substance related support needs, or if there are any other high support needs, this will include people with mental health issues.
Applications will not be considered from applicants with any pets unless authorisation is given by the Neighbourhood Officer.
Applicants will only be considered if there are no criminal convictions.
The Local Lettings Policy will last for a period of 12 months and will cover all initial lets and relets during this period. The policy will be reviewed before the 12 months’ period expires and will be extended for another 12 months if required.
This policy will remain in place for 12 months until February 2021 at which time it will be reviewed before the 12-month period expires. United Welsh Housing Association will report its findings to the Housing Manager/Senior Officer, Blaenau Gwent Council.