Mrs Benning took the chair; all committee members were present, with a further 17 society members in attendance.
Minutes of the previous quarterly meetings were confirmed and signed. Proposed by Mr Osborne and seconded by Mrs Goodwin.
Mrs Benning informed the members that the meeting was being recorded, as agreed at the previous meeting. She began her report by stating that the remaining eight properties in Lilac Avenue had now had there lead pipes replaced, this has completed this has completed the lead pipe replacement for all of Lilac Avenue. We have now starting work on another six of the properties in Fern Rise, which leaves approximately half of the road left to do, along with properties on Keyham Lane and Laburnum Road.
There have been reports of several break-ins and thefts on the estate this week, mostly from sheds. Could tenants please try to secure their property to protect them and their neighbours from open access if you can keep your gates closed etc.
We have not ruled out a rent increase, but we have not made any definite decision as yet.
Going on from rent, we have to inform you that if anyone is in rent arrears, this is discussed at the committee meetings, and is put in the minutes of the meeting. Should anyone wish to read the minutes they would then be aware of who was in arrears.
We have had seven properties empty so far this year, four have been let, there is still work to completed on the other three.
Ending on a good note, we are arranging a Centenary Celebration for next year. A list of ideas will be read out in any other business. This is to celebrate the first house on the estate being built.
Mrs Benning ended by saying that she hoped everyone would join in with the celebrations. This concluded the chairman’s report which was proposed by Mrs Gaten and seconded by Mrs Goodwin.
We have several types of tenancies on the estate, with a shorthold tenancy we can serve notice to terminate the tenancy without giving a reason, in some cases this may be a good thing, if the person is not a good tenant. But some of the committee think that if on the other hand someone who has proved to be a good tenant, then they should have more security by making them an assured tenant. This is something that the Council does, and the majority of the committee thought that after five years, when the bond deposit is returned, and if everything was satisfactory with the tenant and the property, then this would be the time to change the tenancy to an assured one. The chairman went on to ask for the opinions of shareholders on this.
Mr R Fraser said that if someone had proved to be a good tenant over the five years then he didn’t see a problem.
Mr M Osborne said that he was uneasy by the term of landlord being used, as he thought that we were all our own landlords and tenants. Mrs Benning pointed out that anything written refers to the landlord. Mrs L Osborne went on to say that as we are unique, we do not know whether we are landlords or a management committee, and would not know until challenged in a court of law. With this in mind we have to follow the law of the land.
Mrs D Bakker asked what the difference was in the types of tenancies. Mrs Benning explained that there are three types of tenancy on the estate; it depends on how long you have lived in the property as to what tenancy you are on. Each type has different rights which are governed by the Rent Act.
Mr M Carter asked if the estate had sought legal advice regarding this. Mrs Benning said that advice had been sought, solicitors do work on the side of the landlord, but the society can change the tenancy if they wish, as do the council after one year. Mr M Carter said that there would not be many private landlords that would change the tenancy.
Mr Pawson said that we have two choices; you can either give the tenant more security, or cost the estate more money if we have to evict someone. If a tenant on a shorthold tenancy needs to be evicted you can serve them notice, but a tenant on an assured tenancy would cost the estate money in solicitor’s fees to take out eviction proceedings.
Mr Gaten asked the committee to clarify when notice can be served to a tenant on a shorthold tenancy. Mrs Benning said that under section 21 we do not have to give a reason for giving notice to terminate the tenancy. This can be done after six months from the tenancy commencing. This type of tenancy continues after the initial twelve month agreement. The committee had decided to give the tenant more security by changing them to an assured tenancy after five years.
Mr M Carter said that he could not see the point of altering the tenancies as the estate would only seek possession if people were in arrears with their rent. Mrs Benning said that it was not always as clear cut as that.
Mrs Osborne said that what she did not like about a shorthold tenancy is that you can give notice to someone without even giving them a reason, and that does not sit comfortable with her, she feels that this is totally unfair.
Mr M Carter said that the only time someone would be evicted, is if they did something bad.
Mrs Benning pointed out that the law is always changing, and the secretary spends a lot of time confirming with the solicitor points of law.
Nominations included Mrs K Creese, Mr M Carter, Mr T Gee and Mr I Pawson. As a vote will be required, Mr E Gaten and Mrs P Smith volunteered to act as scrutineers.
Mrs Benning went through the list of ideas that the committee had drawn up regarding the Centenary Celebrations.
The committee thought it would be nice for tenants to open up their gardens for people to look at, as there are some lovely gardens on the estate. If anyone is interested in doing this, please let the office have your name, we will then see if there are enough people to make it worth doing. The celebration will be on Saturday 12th July 2008 the gardens could be open between 10.00am and 3.00pm followed by a ceremony, unveiling the plaque on the first houses that were built, 101 and 103 Keyham Lane. Mrs Benning asked for ideas of who could make a speech and toast the unveiling of the plaque. Mrs Goodwin suggested that if anyone opened their garden people could give a donation on entry, this could go to charity. A cake decoration competition had also been suggested, a prize would be given, followed by an exhibition in the hall, probably a bouncy castle, and also for the children a miniature garden competition. Mrs Benning said that these were just ideas, but if anyone could come up with any other suggestions, these would be welcome. A centenary plate is also being made; one will be given to each tenant.
Mrs Goodwin asked what progress has been made with the fence at 82 Laburnum Road. Mrs Benning went on to explain that the problem has been solved and the fence is staying where it is. Mrs Benning also explained that the committee had made an agreement with the tenant, but our interpretation of that agreement was different to that of the tenant, regarding the amount of land in question. If anyone wanted to read the minutes regarding this they are free to do so. When the land was annexed, there was a complaint received, advice was sought from the solicitor and it was found that once we had agreed to the boundary change, the agreement was then between the two tenants, and there was nothing that the estate could do. Mr Ridgway pointed out that the committee had spent hours deliberating this; Mrs Goodwin said that she hoped that this mistake would not be made again. Mrs Benning assured her that it would not happen again.
Mrs Bakker asked what was the stance on heavy vehicles using the backway, as she had noticed a skip had been placed there recently. Mrs Benning said that heavy vehicles were stopped using the backway after quarry waste had been laid down, and it was found that heavy vehicles were disturbing it. The backway has had to be used to place a skip in the rear garden of an empty property, as there was asbestos that needed to be removed. This was a health and safety issue, and our maintenance men had to handle it in the easiest and safest way possible.
Mrs Bakker asked if people in Fern Rise and Chestnut Avenue could have driveways in their front gardens, even though they have access to the rear via the backway. Mrs Benning said that anyone could write in with a request if they wished to do so.
Mrs Gaten asked if there had been any decision made regarding the land in Lilac Avenue. Mrs Benning said that Mr Gee had drawn up plans to create a garden, but then it has to be taken into account the upkeep. The committee are looking into the possibility of extending the gardens of 37 and 35 Laburnum Road, which would then leave a square parcel of land with the entrance on Laburnum Road, more could probably be done with this, but nothing is definite as yet. Mrs Goodwin thought that this sounded a good idea as it gives a decent piece of land to work with.
Mrs Benning concluded the business of the meeting by wishing everyone, on behalf of the committee, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, before declaring the meeting closed at 7.55pm.