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Cambridge City Council

Council to introduce regular visits to council homes to audit properties and assist tenants

30 September 2022

CAMBRIDGE City Council has approved the adoption of regular tenancy audit visits at council properties following a successful pilot scheme.

The council’s Housing Scrutiny Committee recently approved the proposal for officers to make periodic visits to council-owned properties.

Regular visits will help the council to check the condition of properties and arrange timely repairs, ensure tenants’ particular needs are being met, signpost people to additional support available, and ensure properties still meet households’ needs.

The audits will also help the council identify breaches of tenancy and unauthorised alterations, address any safeguarding concerns and save the money by identifying potential problems before they escalate.

In addition, early identification of unreported repairs or unauthorised alterations will help to reduce the turnaround time when empty properties are due to be re-let.

A pilot programme of tenancy audit visits took place in council properties from April to August this year. Findings from the 337 completed visits included:

  • 86% of property visits resulted in actions being taken in relation to tenancy issues, property issues or support needs for tenants
  • 65 households have been supported to upsize, downsize or move to more suitable accommodation
  • Necessary repairs have been identified and reported in 98 properties, and reminders issued to tenants to report any repairs needed to the council.
  • A number of suspected domestic abuse cases have been identified and other safeguarding referrals made, enabling the council to offer help to those concerned.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “The pilot programme showed how beneficial regular tenancy audits of council-owned properties could be.

“In one instance a visit identified that a tenant had not been responding to one of the council’s contractors because they have several disabilities which were not previously known to the council. This means that they are not able to open and respond to letters or telephone calls, so special measures have now been put in place which will be really beneficial to tenants.

“We look forward to the audit visits being introduced on a regular basis, as we are sure tenants will appreciate them. It will enable us to identify any issues at an early stage, get people the help and support they may need more quickly, and reduce the time it can sometimes take for properties to be re-let to new tenants.”

The council now aims to visit at least 15% of its housing stock by the end of March 2023, and then to visit all of its properties in due course.