Lavender & Wilson have provided a range of landlords and developers with advice and guidance to help with negotiations with Local Authorities, where enforcement action is being considered or has been taken. In many cases, we are able to make direct representations or act as expert witness on behalf of the client (civil or criminal case). Ensuring that the action being pursued by the Local Authority is reasonable, proportionate and procedurally sound
Lavender & Wilson, working in partnership with Opinion Research Services, have just completed a study into the concerns associated with high concentrations of HMOs (studentification). The study looked at existing planning, housing and related legislation and considered good practice in local authorities in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. The final report makes recommendations in respect of both local authority practice and potential changes to the regulatory framework.
Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant welcomed the publication of an independent report into the effect Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
Cardiff City Council – HMO Survey
Lavender & Wilson were instructed by Opinion Research Services to give specialist advice in a project for Cardiff City Council to update stock condition information in the Plasnewydd and Gabalfa wards of Cardiff, looking in particular at houses in multiple occupation.
Lavender & Wilson has been appointed by the Welsh Local Government Association to support the Welsh Government and Local Authorities in implementing the Welsh Empty Property Initiative “House into Homes”., including the development and implementation of their £20 Million loan scheme targeted towards empty property owners. The scheme has been so successful that an additional £10 Million transitional funding has been made available from 2016/2017, bringing the total investment to £30 Million.
An extensive programme of training has been provided to the Local Authorities on the range of enforcement and softer options available to help bring long term empty properties back into use. Ongoing consultancy support is provided to help resolve problematic long term empty properties and development of the wider initiative.
Swansea Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment
Working in partnership with main contractor Opinion Research Services, Lavender & Wilson have been instructed to carry out a Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment covering 1,000 properties.
Worcester City Council
Lavender & Wilson have just completed a Strategic Housing Project for Worcester City Council. This included an appraisal of the use of section 106 funds and investigation of access to home ownership for new households along with a review of private sector housing polices dealing with long term empty properties and HMO licensing. The project report made a number of recommendations which are now being adopted.
Carmarthenshire County Council
Lavender & Wilson have been re-commissioned to provide consultancy support to Carmarthenshire County Council to help deal with their problematic long term empty properties. The work has included an extensive range of enforcement action, including empty dwelling management orders, enforced sales procedure, compulsory purchase orders as well as providing training to a range of officers throughout the local authority.
Lavender & Wilson were engaged by Jephson Housing Group to undertake a major HHSRS training programme covering both surveying and housing staff at their five regional offices across the country. For the technical staff, full two day HHSRS training courses with competence certification were delivered. Half day awareness courses were provided for housing officers (who do undertake many home visits) to allow them to identify issues of concern in homes.
Jephson then instructed Lavender & Wilson to review their procedures for risk assessments in common parts in flat blocks and other schemes such as sheltered accommodation to streamline the process and to ensure consistency in the inspection, assessment and recording processes. Working with Jephson staff, a rationalised paper form for site use and an electronic spreadsheet with automatic prompts for formal recording were developed. Training sessions were held with staff to familiarise them with the forms and processes. The new procedures are leading to time savings whilst ensuring that all necessary areas and issues are covered, action taken as appropriate and all necessary information recorded.
Lavender & Wilson undertook a major review of how local authorities in Wales are tackling empty homes and to assist with development and implementation of an Empty Property Initiative for Wales.
A detailed report set out a number of recommendations and the Government has now introduced the Houses into Homes scheme to cover the whole country backed by £10 million capital funding. The scheme has been so successful that a further investment of £10 million has be made available to the scheme
Lavender & Wilson have been appointed by the Welsh Local Government Association to support the Welsh Government and Local Authorities in implementing the scheme.
Lavender & Wilson completed a review of the private sector housing policies and practices for Epping Forest DC including a review of their Housing Assistance Policy. Working with local authority officers, and following extensive consultation, a revised Private Sector Housing Strategy and revised Housing Assistance Policy were developed and have now been adopted by the authority.