Findon sheltered housing tenants take over management from council

Friday, 18 March 2022 17:19

By Jessica Hubbard - Local Democracy Reporter

In a district first residents at an over-60s housing scheme in Findon have been granted permission to take over some of the management at their homes.

Arun District Council’s housing and wellbeing committee granted residents of one of its sheltered housing schemes, Nightingales, in Horsham Road, permission to take over some of the management of the property on Thursday (March 17).

This comes after 23 of the 36 tenants voted in favour of taking more control during a consultation exercise run by the council. Residents formed the Nightingales Tenants Association in September 2020 and say they want to take over some aspects of the management after ‘deterioration of services’ and being told that some of them may no longer be allowed to keep pets.

An introduction to the ‘local management agreement’ drafted by the Association reads: “Resident members were disheartened by what we saw as the ongoing deterioration of services such as block cleaning, grounds maintenance and repairs.

“We had also received notification from the council that in future tenants could no longer keep pets in their homes if they didn’t have access to private gardens.

“Many neighbours have found this extremely upsetting as many residents have pets, live on their own and draw much physical and mental benefit from the presence of pets.”

The association drew up a ‘local management agreement’ in an attempt to ‘improve the standards of cleaning and gardening’ and to ‘provide a speedier repair service than Arun can offer at this time’.

“We believe that the efficiencies in the service we will control can enable us to help neighbours make savings and at the same time improve our homes and make Nightingales somewhere we can all be proud of,” the association said.

A residents’ committee can now take responsibility for some maintenance such as routine repairs, window cleaning, grass cutting, sweeping and clearing paths and car parking bays, and internal cleaning.

ADC will remain the freeholder and will still have some repair and maintenance responsibilities.

Chair of the housing and wellbeing committee Jacky Pendleton (Con, Middleton-on-Sea) said: “I strongly believe that as these places are our residents’ homes, they should have the right to take on responsibility for their homes and take pride in their homes.

“It is unusual for a sheltered housing scheme to want to go down this road but you have to take your hat off to them to the fact that they actually want to go ahead with this. I wish them every success.”

Sasha Hawkins, resident engagement officer at Arun District Council, said the residents had already been given some training on health and safety and financial management.

Council tenants have had the right to manage their own homes since 1994 if they form a tenant management organisation and leader of the Arun Independent group Steve Goodheart (Hotham) said: “They’re staking their claim in their properties, and their responsibility of those properties for the foreseeable future.

“Is this something which we should be encouraging or is it an indication that whatever services we’re doing with our properties don’t come up to the expectations of the residents?”

Gill Yeates (LDem, Bersted) said she had found some sheltered housing residents feeling ‘quite isolated’ and asked if other schemes could be told about the possibility of managing their own homes.

Ms Hawkins said: “This would be the first one that we’ve had in our district so I don’t see any reason why we can’t share that good work and the progress with other tenants associations.”

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