Question time

Did you know that you can ask a question of the Board or Operational Board? For more information, please contact Jackie Mitchell on 01332 888777 or email jackie.mitchell@derbyhomes.org.

Here are a few of the questions recently submitted by tenants, together with the response provided by the Board of Derby Homes.

Question
I’d like to know if it would be possible to have dawn to dusk sensor lights outside our homes.  We do have lights outside, but sensor lights would cut down electric bills.

Answer
Any new lights that we now install have a sensor which tenants can choose to use. As and when lights become faulty, we will replace them with this kind of light fitting.

Question
Why does Derby Homes allow families, some with children, to live in the same bungalow when they know that this is a sheltered housing complex for the over 60s and the disabled?

Answer
Bungalows are generally for applicants who are aged over 60, but they are also offered to younger applicants who are disabled and receiving Disability Living Allowance.  Some younger disabled people may have families living with them, but their housing need determines the type of accommodation they can live in.  Derby City Council has a statutory duty to meet the housing needs of younger disabled applicants.

Question

Why leave houses empty for up to a year to deteriorate and then put them up for auction when people are in need of them?  There are at least four around my area at the moment.

Answer
Derby City Council has a very small number of properties that would need a huge amount of money spending on them to bring them to an acceptable condition (between £30,000 and £60,000 for each property).  The harsh fact is that we have to work with limited resources and it just isn’t cost effective to do this.  To fund the huge amount of work required for such a small number of houses we would have to cancel a lot of work that is far more cost effective and will benefit more tenants.  For instance, for the average cost of renovating just one of these houses, we can install central heating for 15 tenants.

To put this in perspective, we’ve sold off about 11 properties in this way in the past three years, out of a housing stock of about 13,800.  Selling them to someone else means that they will almost certainly be brought back into use and provide a home - which is a much better option than the Council holding onto a property that it can’t afford to renovate and which is in very poor condition, which can have a negative effect on the neighbourhood.  The Council gets to keep 100% of the sale income which it spends on helping to provide new affordable housing or spends on regeneration projects.  In the small number of cases where properties need to be sold, we’d certainly like to see it happen sooner to avoid leaving the property empty for a long period.  We have now agreed a new procedure with the Council which will mean that, if we need to take this action in the future, it can happen a lot quicker.

Question
With the loss of counter rent payments who do I contact for a review of my rent if I get in a muddle?  I’m a widow aged 87 years.

Answer
Any customer who has a rent query can contact the Customer Service Team on 01332 888777. If the query cannot be answered straight away the Customer Service Team will get an officer to contact the customer with further information. The Customer Service Team is open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm