Matthew Smith is a Principal Enforcement Officer in Birmingham City Council’s Private Rented Services team and works to bring the city’s empty properties back into use. Since April, his team has brought around 200 properties back into use, providing more affordable housing and supporting communities.
This week is Private Rented Sector Week and Matthew is on tour with colleagues advising tenants and landlords in Erdington, Soho and Cape Hill. Matthew’s blog reflects on the first day on board the bus in Erdington. (See news release for background information “All aboard for tenant and landlord advice in Birmingham”.)
As the saying goes “Tuesday isn’t so bad it’s a sign I’ve survived Monday …” To many vulnerable tenants this of course may not ring true.
Yesterday, the Private Rented Services (PRS) bus landed on Erdington High Street … with the super moon left behind to reveal a cool sun shining …. and we began giving advice to private tenants who came on board.
The first tenants we spoke to revealed that their landlord hadn’t provided cupboards to store food. Because of this, other tenants at the multiple occupancy property were taking their food. Landlords need to provide adequate food storage for their tenants so staff will be following up this enquiry and helping the tenants get the facilities they need.
This was the beginning of over 100 visitors to the bus. Many tenants were very complimentary of their landlords which was refreshing to hear. With help from the local neighbourhood police teams and agents from Let to Birmingham, the council’s social lettings agency, we were able to offer advice on a range of repair issues.
New for this year, officers also visited over ten properties in the Erdington area which we suspected were houses in multiple occupation. We’ll be following this up and contacting the landlords to make sure they are licensed and all is in order.
We also gave out 13 carbon monoxide detectors to vulnerable tenants and spoke to local estate agents about the new laws surrounding smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
Our final visitor asked for information about becoming a landlord and went away with advice leaflets tucked under his arm. If he takes all the information on board he’ll join the majority of good landlords and provide much needed decent housing for his tenants.
I wonder what our visit to Handsworth will bring ……