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£1m lost through delayed council house lettings

Created on 20/11/2020 @ 11:18
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Nearly £1 million in extra rent could be found if vacant council houses in the area are prepared for new tenants on time.

Powys County Council’s Audit Committee met on Thursday to discuss a report by the council’s internal auditor (SWAP) on house clearances, known as “voids clearing.”

After an investigation SWAP had issued an “unfavourable opinion” for the  time it takes to make a council house ready for new tenants once it fall vacant.

SWAP assistant director, Ian Halstead said: “There were failings in the voids process.

“We failed to meet targets in terms of inspection, repairs and the letting.

“Clearly part of that is around the management of the contractor who delivers the repairs.

“But the positive is that if we can manage those areas better there is an opportunity to generate a significant additional revenue.”

The SWAP report showed that at an average rental cost of £95 a week, for the period they looked at from December 2019 to March 2020,  the cost of lost rental income was £313,445.

This would equate to £940,335 over a 12 month period.

Cllr David Thomas, said: “We had a lot of discussion on the way housing voids are managed by Heart of Wales Property Services (HOWPS), but you have a figure there for a four month period of income loss down to excess time taken over the set targets.

“That equates to almost £1 million potentially a year, is that correct?”

Mr Halstread replied: “Yes.

“The question I would pose and it’s not in the report.”

“When you set target they do have to be reasonable, so it’s either you need to reflect on those targets, or improve performance or maybe a bit of both.”

In the past, it had been expected to have house be ready for the next tenant in 17 days.

The report said that target times for the completion of works are now set by the Housing Surveyors in agreement with the contractor.

The failings highlighted in the report are:

Housing Surveyors don’t achieve their initial inspection 29 per cent of the time.
Currently all contractors are only achieving between 25 per cent to  33 per cent of the work on target
The report added that there was no identified process of what to do if a contractor went bust very quickly.

It said that: “Consideration has been given to this eventuality, but no formal documented policy has been drawn up yet.”



By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service




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