Wandsworth launches action on housing

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2023

  • Building more council homes.
  • Improving standards for council tenants and private renters.
  • Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.
  • Supporting residents with additional needs.

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We have set out our plan for significant reform of some of our services, following the approval of our 2023-2028 Housing and Homelessness Strategy at the Housing Committee on Wednesday evening.

The strategy seeks to improve standards for council tenants and private renters, build more council homes, tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, and support residents with additional needs.

In the past 12 months, we have made great strides to improve our housing and homelessness services for residents. Some of the many highlights include:

  • Updating the repayment programme for council resident leaseholders to spread the cost of major works.
  • Reintroducing lifetime tenancies, giving peace of mind and providing security for council tenants.
  • Setting up a dedicated downsizing team to help council residents who would like to move to smaller properties, freeing up larger homes for those families in greatest need.
  • Changing policy to retain much needed houses.
  • Setting new policy to negotiate with developers for social housing.
  • Increasing resource for homelessness prevention.

Aydin Dikerdem, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is a Council committed to housing justice and that is why we have brought forward this bold strategy to build on our achievements and create a fairer, compassionate and more sustainable borough for everyone.”

For the first time in over 20 years, additional resources have been agreed for the area housing teams. This will provide more visibility for residents on estates and will improve the service provided.

We are increasing our focus on cases of damp and mould. We have established a rapid response service with a dedicated email and phone number for ease of reporting. Should tenants raise mould concerns in their property, immediate removal of the mould prior to an inspection will be arranged to ensure the issue is dealt with as soon as possible. 

Around one third of households in the Borough rent from a private landlord and although many private landlords provide good quality accommodation, some properties fail to meet basic standards and we will intervene to assist renters to take action and improve conditions.

We are currently reviewing the feasibility of introducing voluntary licensing to improve standards in the private rented sector and to crack down on rogue landlords.

We have embarked on a significant programme of council house building under our Homes for Wandsworth Programme to deliver 1,000 council rent. Our projections show that we are on track to exceed this target by 2029.

We believe that having a decent home is a fundamental human right.

That is why we are seeking to reduce our use of temporary accommodation over the next five years, building on the investment in new staffing made by the Council.

We will focus on prevention, intervention and recovery to tackle rough sleeping across the Borough. If we understand the triggers for rough sleeping, we can identify the needs of rough sleepers to create tailored solutions and reduce the risk of repeat rough sleeping.

The consequences of being homeless can lead to serious physical and mental health problems, and so we believe that reducing instances of people that find themselves homeless will have a further beneficial impacts for individuals and communities.

We are proud to be leading the way in London with the provision of dedicated Specialist Housing Occupational Therapists who provide advice and support, making suitable homes for existing and future residents who may have health conditions or impairments.

Cllr Dikerdem added: “We know that having a decent home goes beyond bricks and mortar. It provides a firm foundation on which residents can build a good life, improving physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why our Housing and Homelessness Strategy is so ambitious and far-reaching. Working alongside other council strategies, it will provide that foundation and improve lives.”