Housing shake-up in Welwyn Hatfield will lead to 'rundown homes', critics claim

PUBLISHED: 09:46 03 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:46 03 July 2013

Cllr Roger Trigg

Cllr Roger Trigg

Archant

CHANGES to council tenancy conditions will lead to a surge in "rundown properties" in Welwyn Hatfield, critics claim.

Cllr Kieran ThorpeCllr Kieran Thorpe

Housing chiefs have come under fire after it emerged a shake-up could see outdoor maintenance cutbacks.

Residents were sent a letter by John Briggs, chief executive of the Welwyn Hatfield Community Housing Trust – which manages the council’s housing stock – warning of the potential changes.

One man, who did not wish to be named, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “Welwyn Hatfield Council are proposing alterations to tenancy agreements, which will make tenants responsible for gardens and now [if the proposals are approved] we’re [going to be] responsible for all paths and surrounding walls.

“Tenants are going to have to take out public liability insurance, because instead of the council being responsible tenants are.

Welwyn Hatfield Council Housing Services Tenancy Agreement for secure tenanciesWelwyn Hatfield Council Housing Services Tenancy Agreement for secure tenancies

“It’s going to lead to a lot of rundown properties.”

The plans are currently subject to a consultation period, which ends on July 12.

Councillor Kieran Thorpe, the Labour group leader on Welwyn Hatfield Council, himself a council tenant, said fellow tenants had complained to him about the plans.

He said: “It concerns me there does appear to be a rolling back of maintenance responsibilities on the council’s side.

“This could end up costing more in the long run as properties, inside and out, are neglected as there will be those who can’t do it themselves, or can’t afford to pay.”

Cllr Roger Trigg, the council’s executive member for housing and community, said: “Apart from changes which we have to make because of changed legislation, the proposed amendments to the tenancy agreement are fairly minor.

“As we had to revise the tenancy agreement to reflect the changes in statute governing succession rules, we have taken the opportunity to clarify some other areas.

“However, the proposals do not include changes to repair responsibilities.”

He added: “In addition to its response repairs service, the council has a long-established programme of planned works for homes, which will continue and be unaffected by changes to the tenancy agreement.”

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