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Voids Optimisation Policy

Void Optimisation Policy

Halton Housing is committed to continuous improvement in performance of void re-let times / rent loss and ensuring that we maintain a consistent and transparent approach in allocating our homes.  We (HH) administer Property Pool Plus in Halton and have taken account of legislative changes that affects both new and existing customers.

This policy impacts on a number of areas within our organisation including Housing and Property Services. It will primarily be managed by Housing Services and will help deliver our priorities of protecting current income, reducing our costs and driving efficiency.

We are committed to the provision of an affordable housing programme in conjunction with the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA). Registered providers are expected to have a strategic approach, ensuring the best use of their stock and whether they should be used to support the generation of additional capacity through sales and conversions.

Policy Statement

We aim to continue to meet housing needs and to maximise rental income by focussing resources.  This will ensure priority is given to minimising relet time on void properties by repairing and letting them within strict target timescales. This is to ensure that value for money is achieved whilst adhering to the Safe, Clear and Clean Void Standard which is included in the void procedural document.

Halton Housing recognises that customers’ circumstances change over time and in particular this may result in under occupation of their homes. Therefore, Housing Options Advice will be placed at the forefront of everything we do to ensure that homes are fully utilised and appropriately matched to meet customers housing needs.

We will co-operate with Halton Borough Council and other local registered providers/agencies to effectively monitor market indicators to be able to react effectively to any changes in supply and demand in the Borough.

We are aware of the requirement to ensure housing stock is fully utilised.  Therefore, a specific process for identifying poorly performing stock and determining its future use is in place that complies with the regulatory requirements.

We look to involve customers in the management of empty properties by encouraging them to report abandoned properties, squatting, vandalism and theft from empty properties. We will also involve customer inspectors to audit the standard of voids.

Halton Housing’s approach is to have an efficient and effective housing management service maximising the sustainability of its properties. This will be done by:

  • Maximising the use of stock with adaptations to encourage appropriate matching and utilisation/recycling of adaptations
  • Minimising void periods
  • Reducing void loss through effective use of 4 week notice periods when tenancies end
  • Actively encouraging the use of mutual exchanges as an alternative to creating a void and implementation of the Transfer Policy
  • Ensuring that rent debts are not transferred and that customer individual needs are given due consideration.
  • Maintaining the cost of repairs within budget
  • Providing value for money through procurement and review of standards
  • Adhering to and making best use of the Property Pool Plus Allocations Policy.
  • Engaging with other agencies concerning the needs of customers both individuals and within communities to meet the needs of variety of circumstances.
  • Developing initiatives/incentives to minimise voids loss and improve relet times.
  • Frequent and free flowing communications between internal HH departments; customers and partner.alike.
  • Utilising other options for reducing council tax premiums e.g. Use of Ad Hoc Guardians where appropriate
  • Reviewing disposal options when appropriate in line with HCA guidance.
  • Creating sustainable tenancies through the use of Tenancy Sustainable Assessments and Fire Risk Assessments

The Housing Options Manager at Halton Housing is primarily responsible for ensuring the implementation of this policy.

Regulatory and/or Legal Compliance

The HCA’s current Regulatory Framework that came into force from April 2012 has some specific outcomes and expectations within the Home and Tenancy Standards that relate to this policy.

  • Home Standard

One of the specific expectations of this standard in relation to Repairs and Maintenance states that:

“2.1 Registered providers shall ensure a prudent, planned approach to repairs and maintenance of homes and communal areas. This should demonstrate an appropriate balance of planned and responsive repairs, and value for money. The approach should include: responsive and cyclical repairs, planned and capital work, work on empty properties, and adaptations.”

  • Tenancy Standard

One of the required outcomes of the Tenancy Standard relating to Allocations and Mutual Exchange states that:

“1.1 Registered providers shall let their homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way. They shall take into account the housing needs and aspirations of tenants and potential tenants. They shall demonstrate how their lettings:

  • make the best use of available housing
  • are compatible with the purpose of the housing
  • contribute to local authorities’ strategic housing function and sustainable communities.”

Halton Housing strive to meet these regulatory requirements by the effective implementation of this policy.

This policy also ensures Halton Housing complies with the following relevant legislation:

  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
  • Housing Acts 1996, as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002
  • Localism Act 2011
  • Welfare Reform Act 2012
  • Equality Act 2012
  • Housing & Regeneration Act 2008
  • Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

Diversity Considerations

Following completion of then Equality Impact Screening Checklist this confirms that an EIA Stage 2 assessment is not required.    An initial assessment using the PIA indicates this is not applicable.

Links to Strategies, Procedures and Associated Documents

This policy supports the following ‘Our Direction’ priorities:

  • Protect our Current Income
  • Reduce our Costs and Drive Efficiency
  • Focus our Resources and Services

Associated Policy Documents and Procedures:

  • Void Repairs Policy
  • Property Pool Plus Allocations Policy/Procedure
  • Diversity Policy
  • Succession Policy
  • Mutual Exchange Policy
  • Transfer Policy
  • Abandoned Property Procedure
  • Tenancy Policy
  • Charges Policy
  • Stock Appraisal and Disposal Policy
  • Income Maximisation Policy
  • Local Lettings Plans
  • Under Occupation Procedure
  • Void Procedure
  • Aids and Adaptations Policy
  • Tenancy Sustainability Procedure
  • Environmental Sustainability Policy
  • Assisted Furniture Scheme Procedure
  • Dual Fuel Procedure
  • Affordability Policy
  • HH Interim Lettings Policy

Related Help & Support Articles

Find helpful articles on finding your next home with Halton Housing, and how to apply for a home here.

Help & Support Categories

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