This consultation is now closed. Feedback from the consultation will help inform our final Financial Assistance and Enforcement Policy.



Background

A key objective in the council's housing strategy is to ensure that everyone in the district has access to suitable housing. This is important for both the physical and mental wellbeing of our residents. As part of our work around this, we commissioned a Government funded study to assess and evaluate current housing conditions across the district.

The findings of the report have helped shape a new draft Financial Assistance and Enforcement Policy, which aims to help homeowners and private sector landlords to maintain the condition of their properties. It also sets out the full range of enforcement powers available to our housing inspection team to help improve the standard of rented accommodation in the district.

We have created a survey that enables you to share your views on the policy's main proposals, which include how we will:

  • Help tackle excess cold and reduce fuel poverty
  • Improve the standard of rented properties
  • Assist homeowners that can't afford repairs to their homes, and
  • Support those who are disabled through facilities grants.

There is also the opportunity to comment on the draft policy as a whole or to give us further feedback around housing standards.
 

View the draft policy

You can find the full draft Financial Assistance and Enforcement Policy and Appendices here.

On this page you can also find an FAQ section in which we summarise the policy's key proposals.

 


Frequently asked questions
 

 

Q. What are you consulting on?

A. We have drafted a new policy, which outlines how we can help residents and landlords to maintain and improve the condition of their properties in the Chichester District. You can find more information about this in the below FAQs.

The policy also sets out details of the statutory powers our Housing Standards team have to take action against landlords who fail to provide acceptable homes for their tenants.

We would like to hear people's views on the suggestions we have included in the policy. You can view the draft policy on this page and have your say in our survey here: (include link)

 

Q. Why is it important to maintain and improve the condition of housing in the Chichester District?

A. Having a warm and safe place to live is important for both the physical and mental wellbeing of our residents. A key objective in the council's housing strategy is to ensure that everyone in the district has access to suitable housing.

 

Q. What were the findings of the housing condition survey?

A. Earlier this year, we commissioned a Government funded study to assess and evaluate current housing conditions across the district. This is called a housing stock condition survey. As a local authority, we have a statutory duty to review the condition of the housing stock within our area.

The survey identified that many properties within the district have inadequate heating and insulation, and a proportion of our residents are experiencing fuel poverty.

  1. 6,768 dwellings in the private sector (all housing except social housing) have serious health and safety hazards, which equates to 14% of properties. 1,281 dwellings in the private rented sector are in this category, which equates to 12% of properties in the private rented sector.

  2. The average estimated energy rating of all private sector dwellings in Chichester is 56, compared to 60 in England and 61 in the South East. The higher the number, the better the energy efficiency. For owner occupied housing the figure is 55 and for private rented stock it is 60.

  3. 13.2% (6,535) of private sector dwellings and 9.9% (1,063) of private rented dwellings in Chichester are estimated to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below band E. This means that energy efficiency must be improved to avoid excess cold.

  4. In the private sector, there are an estimated 12,107 dwellings with uninsulated cavity walls and 7,232 dwellings with less than 100mm of loft insulation.

  5. Analysis of the energy efficiency variables indicated that owner occupied houses have the highest average figures for energy consumption and cost.

     

You can read the full survey findings here in the BRE Integrated Dwelling Level Housing Stock Modelling and Database Report.

 

Q. How are you responding to the findings?

A. We have used the survey findings to inform and shape our new policy, which includes four key priorities:

  • To help tackle excess cold and reduce fuel poverty
  • To continue to improve the standard of rented properties
  • To assist homeowners that can't afford repairs to their homes, and
  • To support those who are disabled through facilities grants.

In addition, the policy ensures that inspecting officers who assess privately rented properties have a wide range of enforcement powers to help improve housing standards.  

 

Q. Is there a glossary of the key terms used in the Financial Assistance and Enforcement Policy?

A. Yes, you can view some of the commonly used terms in our glossary, which is also included in the policy document. In addition, the following FAQs explain some of these terms, as well as the schemes and initiatives referenced in the policy, in more detail.

 

FAQs about Priority 1: To help tackle excess cold and to reduce fuel poverty

The following FAQs explain how the policy aims to address this priority, and explains some of the terms used.
 

Q. What do you mean by 'excess cold' and 'fuel poverty'?

A. Excess cold is when an indoor temperature is low enough that it has a health impact on the resident. A healthy indoor temperature is around 21°C. Adverse health effects begin once the temperature drops to below 19°C but with serious risk below 16°C. Cold homes have one of the most tangible and immediate impacts on people's health and wellbeing.

Fuel poverty is when households cannot afford to keep adequately warm because the cost of heating their home is higher than average and paying for these costs leaves them below the poverty line. This affects around 12% of private sector households in Chichester, compared to 9% in the South East region, and 11% in the rest of England.


Q. How will you tackle excess cold and reduce fuel poverty?

A. It's really important that residents have affordable warmth and healthy homes. The policy aims to tackle excess cold and fuel poverty in five key ways:
 

  • By improving the condition and energy efficiency of homes
  • By reducing energy bills wherever possible
  • By helping to maximise household income for those who are eligible for benefits
  • By supporting those who are able to pay for their own repairs but may need help and guidance, or top-up funding where appropriate
  • By offering green energy efficiency measures

As a council, we already provide financial assistance to residents experiencing fuel poverty and provide advice on the range of help available to them.

This includes the Chichester Warm Homes Initiative. We propose to continue with this important scheme, which provides financial support to those on low income to enable them to improve the energy efficiency of their property. The eligibility of the current scheme will expand so as to help more residents. Landlords may also be eligible depending on whether their tenant fits the eligibility criteria.

The scheme will also provide a wider range of options particularly for those in off-gas locations, including the installation of air source heat pumps, double glazing and full insulation.

In addition, we also provide a Home Energy Advice Service, funded by West Sussex Public Health and delivered by our Wellbeing Team. This offers a tailor-made home energy support for vulnerable residents in Chichester. Find out more about energy efficiency in the home.

You can also find out more about the Warm Homes Initiative and how we propose to extend this service in the following FAQs.

 

Q. What is the Warm Homes initiative?

A. This is a Chichester-based scheme that has been running since 2016 and is a unique offering across West Sussex. It offers financial assistance to homeowners on low income and with only a modest amount of savings to improve the standard of heating and insulation within their properties.

Landlords are also eligible for this support if their tenant meets the qualifying criteria. However, the landlord would be required to make a financial contribution towards the cost of the works.

Find out more about energy efficiency in the home.

 

Q. What changes are being suggested to the Warm Homes initiative?

A. The scheme will provide a wider range of options particularly for those in off-gas locations, including the installation of air source heat pumps, double glazing, batteries and solar photovoltaic panels along with full insulation measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy costs wherever possible.

The eligibility of the current scheme will expand so as to help more residents. Landlords may also be eligible depending on whether their tenant fits the eligibility criteria.

 

FAQs about Priority 2: To continue to improve the standard of rented properties

The following FAQs explain how the policy aims to address this priority, and explains some of the terms used.

 

Q. How will you help improve the standard of rented properties?

A. Private rented housing makes up a significant proportion of housing provision in our district. Since our last housing condition survey in 2015, the standard of rented properties has improved. To build on this, we propose to continue helping to improve standards through the Chichester Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

As part of this scheme, we will continue to work with landlords in the district to encourage, support and advise them how best to improve the condition of their properties. This may include some financial support to ensure properties meet the scheme standards, which are above the minimum legal requirement.

While the vast majority of landlords and letting agents operate well-managed accommodation of a good standard, we have a vital role to play in tackling criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords, preventing them from profiting from non-compliance with the law. For those landlords who fail to meet their responsibilities, the new policy will provide officers with a full range of powers to take more formal action, including the ability to issue civil penalties.

 

Q. What is the Chichester Landlord Accreditation Scheme?

A. We work in partnership with Arun District Council to run a district-wide Landlord Accreditation Scheme. Accreditation is the recognition that a landlord has voluntarily complied with our scheme standards relating to the condition and management of their properties. 

The Chichester and Arun Landlord Accreditation Scheme is free of charge and can include financial support towards the cost of bringing properties up to the required standard.

 

Q. How can you ensure sufficient housing standards in the private rented sector?

A. While the vast majority of landlords and letting agents operate well-managed accommodation of a good standard, we have a vital role to play in tackling criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords, preventing them from profiting from non-compliance with the law.

As part of our policy, we are ensuring that our housing inspection team have all the statutory powers available to them to take action against landlords who fail to provide acceptable homes for their tenants. This will include the ability to serve civil penalties instead of prosecution. For more details of this, please refer to our draft policy, which you can view on this page.

We will also engage with landlords of empty properties and encourage them to bring these up to standard and put them back into use. Empty Homes Assistance is available to assist landlords to undertake any works that are required.

We also offer Homefinder Assistance for landlords wishing to join the council's letting agency service, Homefinder. Landlords will be able to access funding to improve the standard of their property, which will enable it to be let to those on housing benefits in the district.

 

FAQs about Priority 3: To assist homeowners that can't afford repairs to their homes

The following FAQs explain how the policy aims to address this priority, and explains some of the terms used.

 

Q. How will you assist homeowners that can't afford repairs to their homes?

In the current climate, some homeowners may have difficulty affording home repairs. In response to this, we are looking to increase the amount of help.

Our Home Repairs Assistance will be available to those on low income whose property has serious health and safety hazards that require essential repairs. 

Applicants must own their own property, have lived there for more than a year, and meet the eligibility criteria.

Find out more about the Home Repairs Assistance scheme.

 

Q. Which householders would be eligible for help with repairs?

A. Financial assistance will be available to owner-occupiers including those of park homes and long leaseholders who are in financial hardship and are unable to afford to remedy serious health and safety hazards in their property.

Home Repair Assistance consists of a 0% interest free loan placed as a local land charge on the property, which is repayable on sale.  Assistance is up to a maximum of £40,000 for owner-occupiers, and in the case of park homes, help will be available but will be limited at a maximum of £5,000, which will be awarded as a grant.

 

FAQs about Priority 4: To support those who are disabled through facilities grants.

The following FAQs explain how the policy aims to address this priority, and explains some of the terms used.

 

Q. What is the Disabled Facilities Grant scheme?

A. Disabled Facilities Grants are mandatory grants that are processed and issued by the council. In addition, we offer Discretionary Disabled Facilities Grants.

Disabled Facilities Grants are available to homeowners, private tenants, or those occupying properties owned by a registered provider, for example, a housing association.

Disabled Facilities Grants can be given for works such as:
 

  • Providing access to your property
  • Installing a stair lift
  • Converting a bathroom to a level access shower room, or
  • Providing a wheelchair accessible kitchen.

This scheme is designed to help people live safely and independently in their own homes.

Find out more about the housing financial assistance scheme.

 

FAQs about the consultation and further information
 

Q. Why are you consulting?

A. We would like to know whether residents are supportive of the policy, and in particular whether they think the proposed financial assistance packages and new enforcement policy will help tackle the issues raised in the housing condition survey.

 

Q. I want to take part in the survey but would like a paper copy. How do I get one?

A. People can request a paper copy of the questionnaire by emailing letstalk@chichester.gov.uk

 

Q. How can I find out more?

A. We have a range of information on the housing pages of our website including: housing advice, guidance on finding a home, as well as sections with information for landlords, homeowners and tenants.

 

Q. What are the next steps?

A. Your comments will help us finalise the draft policy, which will then be considered by the council's Cabinet in February 2021.