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County Council introduces new schemes and strategies to govern social housing across Laois

Laois County Council General

Laois County Council this week adopted three proposals which will directly affect how the Council interacts with social housing across the County.

The three adoptions were the Social Housing Allocation Scheme 2024; the Anti-Social Behaviour Strategy; and Laois County Council Estate Management.

The Social Housing Allocation Scheme

This Scheme sets out the National Guidelines for the Assessment and Allocation Process for Social Provision for people with a disability.

The purpose of the Scheme is to determine the order of priority to be given in the allocation of social housing.

The Scheme sets out the requirements and procedures for transfers, leasing initiatives, succession tenancies, and rightsizing.

There is special provision in the Scheme for children in shared custody in access arrangements. The document states:

“Laois County Council will assess separated parents with formal custody/access arrangements and the following applies to assignment of bedroom need:

“Children of parents living apart are recorded in the assessment of each parent but the type and extent of accommodation they require is assessed on the extent to which their need for accommodation is met in the household of the other parent.

“The local authority will assign the full bedroom requirements to the parent with whom the children reside for the greater part.

“Applicants with partial custody arrangements or access arrangements to their children for the lesser part shall be deemed to have a two-bedroom need.”

There are also dedicated sections covering refusals, suspensions, choice-based letting, abandonment, and surrenders.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Strategy

This Strategy applies to all areas of housing covered by Laois County Council including social housing, the rental accommodation scheme, traveller accommodation, units leased by the Council.

The principal objectives of this strategy are the reduction and prevention of anti-social behaviour; and orchestrating proper cooperation between the Council and other relevant agencies, such as An Garda Síochána, The HSE, and TUSLA.

The document defines anti-social behaviour as one of the following two acts:

1. “The manufacture, production, preparation, importation, exportation, sale, supply, possession for the purposes of sale or supply, or distribution of a controlled drug.”

2. “Any behaviour which causes or is likely to cause any significant or persistent danger, injury, damage, alarm, loss or fear to any person living, working or otherwise lawfully in or in the vicinity of a house provided by Laois County Council.”

Possession of drugs solely for personal use does not come within this definition, noise nuisance, nor does vandalism or damage to property (unless the damage is serious or used to intimidate).

Laois County Council General

Laois County Council Estate Management

The Estate Management strategy sets out how Laois County Council’s Housing Department will aim to deliver high quality management of its tenancies and estates.

In this context, estate management is defined as securing or promoting the interest of any occupiers in the enjoyment of any house, building or land provided by Laois County Council.

The key aim of the strategy is to develop “strong relationships” between the Council, tenants, and other key stakeholders by developing “sustainable communities where people wish to live by creating peaceful, clean, and pleasant environments.”

The document says the Council will, at the outset of a tenancy, “ensure that tenants are aware of their obligations and responsibilities which are outlined in their tenancy agreement, including their ongoing obligation to maintain their property and surrounding environment throughout their tenancy.”

Some of the key objectives for the Council to fulfil include the following:

– Roll out of the Energy Retrofit Programme to upgrade properties and improve properties prior to re-letting.

– Facilitate and promote excellence in architectural design to support sustainable and quality-built environments.

– Administer grants to ensure that properties suit the needs of persons with a disability.

– Design communities in accordance with best practice, in relation to crime and disability proofing, and public real design.

The Council will provide tenancy training which it says “is integral to and a prerequisite for good estate management.”

Tenants may be required to attend pre-tenancy training which will include tenant and Council responsibilities; the fire service; repairs; alterations to properties; household security; transfers and terminations; and more.

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