The recently released figures show that 38 per cent of all council homes in Portsmouth failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard by the end of March 2020. However, the council disputes these numbers, saying that the figure it provided to the government – which takes into account council housing it manages in Havant – was 26 per cent.
Homes that fail to meet the standard are either run down, too cold, or have facilities that are too old and fail to meet statutory safety requirements. The council also says that the rules applied under the Decent Homes Standard’ are ‘arbitrary’ as they only look at age, not quality of housing.
Only Lewisham Council in London fared worse than the city in the government’s list.
But none of the 3,840 non-decent homes in the city is considered a ‘category one hazard’, which poses an immediate risk to a person’s health and safety.
The government figures focus on ‘arbitrary targets’, according to Portsmouth City Councillor Darren Sanders.
The cabinet member for housing and preventing homelessness said: ‘The problem with this government-imposed standard is that it focuses on how old something is, not if it is any good.
‘We replace things when they stop working, not when the government says it's too old. Therefore, our figures will be higher than those authorities that do the opposite.
‘Despite these flaws, we dutifully report our numbers. Even then, the figures quoted are incorrect. I am told that the council told the government that 26 per cent of the total stock does not meet these arbitrary targets, lower than places like Hackney, Enfield, Kensington and Chelsea, and Ealing.’
The local authority has 26 per cent of its total stock as non-decent, accounting for 4,804 properties it owns in Havant.
Opposition spokesman Cllr Cal Corkery said that residents want efforts to drive up standards – not ‘excuses’.
He said: ‘Since being introduced by the last Labour government, the Decent Homes Standard has seen millions of properties refurbished to ensure they have modern facilities and are in reasonable states of repair.
‘It's disappointing so many council homes in Portsmouth fail to meet those necessary standards.
‘I think we need to be driving up housing standards across the board, not finding excuses for why council owned homes aren't meeting these basic requirements.’
According to the English Housing Survey, 12 per cent of dwellings in the social rented sector across England failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard in 2019/20.
In the private sector, 23 per cent of privately-rented homes are classed as non-decent.