Pet limits plan for Flintshire Council's tenants


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A RAFT of measures designed to improve the lives of the people of Flintshire look set to be rubber-stamped.

Members of the Flintshire Council cabinet meet on Tuesday where they are likely to approve up to half a dozen reports detailing proposals to help the county’s residents.

Help is to be offered to some council taxpayers and there are proposals for assistance to some business owners.

Two plans of action to help rid Flintshire of poor standard private properties will be on the table, as will a policy restricting pet ownership on council estates.

Business rates
ABOUT 750 businesses in Flintshire could benefit from grants reaching up to £1,000 if a new rate relief scheme is ratified.

The new scheme for retailers, which would seen an estimated 725 business across the county in properties with a rateable value of £50,00 or less given the grants, is expected to be approved.

The news comes after the Welsh Government confirmed about £600,000 had been made available to Flintshire Council to meet the needs of local shops, restaurants, cafes and licensed premises.

Cllr Billy Mullin, Flintshire Council cabinet member for corporate management, said: “I hope businesses and services will take the opportunity to apply for the reductions in rate relief and it should be a boost to the local economy.”

Council tax
ELDERLY people on low incomes could get help to pay their council tax bill.

A scheme to help older people meet council tax payments is set to be approved by the cabinet.

Help comes after the Welsh Government made £200,000 available to the council, to be used to help residents at their discretion. The scheme is designed to help households assessed as being in need of financial assistance and those who already receive some help with their bill.

Anyone claiming must be aged 60 or over and be liable for the council tax at a property classed as a “sole and main” residence.

They should also qualify for partial council tax support. The maximum award for each household is £95. Grant awards will be automatically credited to council tax accounts of qualifying households during July 2014.

Cllr Mullin said: “It’s important we offer financial support to households in the area who really need it.”

Property sales
HOUSE owners could be forced to sell their properties if they are considered vacant or run down.

If approved, the council’s enforced sales policy would allow the council to put a long-term vacant property up for auction to pay off relevant debts, working with the new owner to ensure its reoccupation.

Debts could include council tax arrears, social care charges and debts for work carried out and funded by the council due to exercising powers to repair or improve the property. The only way the property owner could prevent a sale would be to repay the debt. It is hoped the policy would help cut the number of long-term vacant properties in Flintshire from the current 469.

Cllr Helen Brown, cabinet member for housing, said: “If this policy is approved the council can start bringing more vacant properties back into use, with the added benefit of recovering debts owed.”

Home loans
LOANS allowing homeowners to connect to mains gas could be made available if planned changes to a council policy dealing with improving private sector housing are approved.

Local authorities consider all housing conditions in their area and are required to help households who do not have the necessary resources to keep their homes in good repair.

New initiatives in this updated policy include an energy efficiency loan, to help deliver gas infill in communities.

The introduction of the Welsh Government Property Improvement Loan Scheme aims to make loans available to both owner occupiers and private landlords to make essential improvements to their properties.

New conditions for loans given for empty homes support will also be included in the policy, meaning owners must consent to the property being managed by the council’s chosen social lettings agency for a minimum of two years for a loan and five years where a grant has been provided.

Pet ownership
LIMITS on animals kept in council properties are among measures hoping to encourage responsible pet ownership.

The policy states a maximum of two cats and two dogs can be kept, depending on the size of the property. Each application will be assessed on individual merits.

Other animals are addressed in the policy and tenants will not be allowed to keep livestock.

The council tenancy agreements already state residents must get permission from the council to keep pets. Those who already have permission will not be asked to apply, but current tenants who don’t have permission will have to provide details of any animals they keep and new tenants will have to fill in an application form.

Cllr Brown said: “Tenants in any rental property have always had to request permission to keep pets and the policy reinforces the council’s position as a landlord. Problems start when there are too many for the size of the property or when they can’t be cared for properly.”

See full story in the Leader

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