The Covid crisis during the past year or so has seen us spending more time at home. Kitchens have doubled-up as offices, living rooms have become ‘zoom rooms’ for many. It’s not just where we live - it’s where we make a living.
Among Mendip District Council's statutory duties is to monitor the condition of privately rented properties to ensure residents live in safe, healthy and warm homes. We can take informal and formal legal action to improve housing standards to ensure properties are free from hazards, and houses in multiple occupation are managed to a safe standard.
During 2020-2021, your council took informal action more than 200 times to fix damp and mould, faulty electrics, structural defects and poor heating. And we issued 28 formal notices too. We don’t just talk action, we take action.
But before deploying the stick, we offer plenty of carrot. We want to do everything we can to support landlords so their tenants can live in the very best conditions. This month we’re running online workshops for landlords featuring the latest legal guidance and health and safety advice. The first is on 21st September. You’ll find information and booking details here: www.mendip.gov.uk/landlordforum.
I lobbied local MPs and government, alongside national organisations and local charities such as Citizens Advice Mendip, to retain the £20 monthly Universal Credit uplift. This benefit boost – so vital to families – will end soon, as will the furlough scheme. And there’s the triple whammy of an economy still in recovery with unemployment up. As a consequence, I know many are in financial difficulties and a finding it hard to meet mortgage or rental payments.
Help is out there to ensure you stay in your homes. At the first sign of hardship, please contact the Council’s Housing Options Team 0300 303 8588, for compassionate, expert, one-to-one advice. Landlords can also call that number if they find themselves with tenants behind with rental payments. We want to support our communities and avoid costly evictions and potential homelessness.
As we’ve touched on homelessness, I’d like to remind residents if you know of someone rough sleeping or you are at risk of this happening to you, please get in touch with Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 or www.streetlink.org.uk.
With autumn upon us, your Council is working to ensure grants are available to help those in low-income households reduce their energy bills, and make homes warmer through improvements. Ending fuel poverty and helping reduce carbon is front and centre for us. We are tapping into funding such as the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme, so we can provide Mendip residents with even more help.
Take a look at the many ways we can support people to have safer, healthier and warmer homes: www.mendip.gov.uk/financialassistance.
The commute took people away from their houses and families, villages and towns. Covid brought many back home again. The word ‘home’ has taken on a meaning far beyond bricks and mortar. It’s the pavements, parks and people in our own neighbourhoods. Home is your local council, on your doorstep, here for you and ready to help, if needed.
And as always, do get in touch with me, either on my email address [email protected] or on my Facebook page: @Ros.Wyke.
Written by Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council
Please get in touch either on my Facebook page @Ros.Wyke or you can send me an email: [email protected].