By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Five new council housing officers are being recruited in Newark in a bid to tackle anti social behaviour and improve standards for tenants.
Newark and Sherwood District Council will spend £191,080 a year on the new employees.
Council statistics show that anti-social behaviour is on the rise, in 2021/2022 there were 146 cases and in 2022/2023 there were 258 cases.
The statistics for 2023/2024 are expected to reach 300 cases.
There is also more pressure on local authorities generally to improve housing service standards following the deaths of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, who died as a result of extensive mould, and Sheila Seleone, whose body went undiscovered in social housing in south London for more than two years.
Housing officers in the Newark and Sherwood area support 5,554 council homes, 170 leasehold properties and 29 community centres. Usually, one tenancy officer would manage 500 homes.
The tenancy officers look after new tenancy sign ups, referrals for furniture, food banks and mental health services, and deal with anti-social behaviour.
They also deal with safeguarding and child protection cases, hold tenant surgeries and take part in day and night walkabouts.
Councillors backed the plans during a cabinet meeting on September 19.
The Social Housing Bill which came into force in July 2023 places more responsibility on landlords to improve services for tenants.
Cllr Lee Brazier (Lab), portfolio Holder for housing, said tenants are “at the heart” of the plans.
He said: “This is an extremely positive report. We don’t want any of our tenants to become another statistic.
“As we know, anti-social behaviour affecting tenants remains a challenging and high-profile area to manage.
“Whilst tenancy enforcement is our last resort, taking cases to court with the ultimate sanction of eviction is time-intensive and skilled work.
“Whilst 500 homes per officer is best practice, we have a number of densely populated patches where properties will be doubled counted to reflect the workload.
“For example, instead of one officer for 500 homes, in identified areas this will reduce to one officer per 250 to increase capacity and to put the health and wellbeing of staff at the front of our thinking.”
Cllr Paul Peacock, Labour leader of the authority, said: “An additional five officers means we’ll speak to more tenants and develop good relationships in the community.
“It will lead to a reduction in anti-social behaviour. There will be a positive impact on repairs and maintenance because we will pick things up quicker.
“We can signpost tenants to the help and support they need. We can cut down on things like graffiti and littering.”
Cllr Rhona Holloway (Con) said: “I think it’s important that we continue to meet the challenges.
“The changes that the new staffing levels will bring will hopefully help with that.”
Cllr Emma Oldham (Ind) said: “I am really proud of us as a landlord. We are taking a really proactive approach to this.
“It’s fantastic that we are increasing capacity so officers can do their jobs properly.”
“The demand for Council properties is increasing and combined with the significant increase in applicants bringing with them a variety of vulnerabilities and complex needs has seen officers stretched to capacity when delivering core landlord functions. This is exacerbated on our larger, higher density estates of Hawtonville and Boughton,” council documents stated.