A TOUGH new housing recharging policy is to be introduced for Redditch Borough Council tenants – with no right of appeal.
The move comes in a bid to save the council money by ‘rebalancing the landlord/tenant relationship’ and giving tenants more responsibility for the upkeep of their property.
Members of the borough’s executive committee heard last week that charges would range from £15 to replace a sink plug to £500 for a wooden door and £90 for a new smoke alarm.
Councillor Craig Warhurst (Con, Astwood Bank & Feckenham), whose portfolio covers housing, said: “We need to balance the books and ensure tenants are responsible for the repairs in their homes which fall as part of their duty of care.
“If you lose a sink plug you should not expect the council to replace it, if you break down the door you should not expect the council to repair it.
“This defines council responsibility and tenant responsibility and I hope we raise zero from it.
“This is about avoiding six-digit fees for repairing homes that have been deliberately trashed.”
Coun Bill Hartnett (Lab, Church Hill) agreed tenants who wilfully damaged their property should pay for repairs but warned the new policy did not seem to recognise the difference between wear and tear and deliberate misuse.
He also queried the consultation the council had carried out, saying just nine tenants and one resident was not representative enough.
“We shouldn’t implement this policy simply because of the lack of consultation,” he said.
“Over half of our tenants are on benefits and some could face eviction depending on the implementation and interpretation by the officers of this policy.”
He added that cyclical replacements should be part of the council’s own planned maintenance programme and queried why electrical testing was a tenant’s responsibility when it should be a landlord’s.
Coun Greg Chance (Lab, Central) added: “I’m looking at the list of charges and trying to find something that the council is responsible for.”
However, Coun Mike Rouse (Con, Church Hill) said: “This is fundamentally about wilful damage and if you agree with that then you should support this policy. The officers have the flexibility to be sensible and pragmatic.”
The policy was carried with two against.