St. Matthew’s community centre hosted the first landlord forum yesterday evening (4 March 2015) in Holbeck. The hall was encouragingly filled with local landlords from the community to hear words from ward councilors and different services of Housing sector and West Yorkshire Police. Cllr Peter Gruen introduced forum as the first of its kind locally and the new Leeds Neighbourhood Approach, that will help improve standards of housing in the area.
Peter reported that Holbeck specifically would benefit from support of the forum due to the area having many private landlords and social housing. In regards to the current national housing shortage, Holbeck has already benefited from new homes being built recently through Keepmoat and Unity Homes.
Peter said ‘The ambitions of the local council to build sustainable communities with houses that are equipped to reflect the life cycle and changes for one person. This means making sure the houses have enough space to adapt to aging needs and is environmentally efficient. With the help of the forum it will eventually hope to build more sustainable communities with a shared responsibility.’
John Statham: Head of Housing Partnerships, Environment & Housing, went on to address the members of the forum with implementing the Leeds Neighbourhood Approach (LNA). This will target areas that are already identified in need of improvement in Holbeck, in particular empty houses in the Recreations. (This scheme has already been successfully rolled out in Armley and East Leeds). The idea is that the representatives of LNA will contact the landlords with a time frame to improve the houses and bring them up to the regulated standards. This includes working with the landlords and offering support to improve their houses. If no work has been completed by the private landlords the Neighbourhood Team have the right to take over improvements themselves.
The Councillors were challenged with frank questions from landlords with regards to the current situation and how Holbeck has been overlooked generally in terms of tracking neglectful private landlords. Questions were raised over the bin yards which seemed to be an ongoing bugbear with regards to fly tipping. Cllr Angela Gabriel said she shared the concerns, but was hopeful that with a local landlord forum they could work together and get the support they need. Still it was very positive to see so many landlords attending not only with a vested interest but a shared passion for their community and the people living in it.
Raspal Sahota Housing Officer from Unity Homes said their presence within the community will continue for their tenants. He hopes to encourage a residential forum for the tenants to have a voice within their own neighbourhood.
Services that are supporting this program are