Councillor Stewart Dobson's view of the town council's residential property policy

Written by Councillor Stewart Dobson on .

Writing as an individual councillor and following recent reports regarding the debate on the Town Council’s Rental Policy, I hope the following might give some background information and help explain a situation which has understandably generated much public interest and concern.

Marlborough Town Council own six residential properties comprising of  4 Flats and 2 Semi-Detached Houses, all of which are let out to private Tenants.

An inspection and rental appraisal carried out by an independent Estate Agent on behalf of the Town Council earlier this year included a comparison of current rents being charged by the Council with the Agent’s opinion of current Open Market Rents.

The rents being charged for the 3 Flats (1 Flat was vacant at the time of the inspection) were in the opinion of the professional Agent set to near Open Market rental value.
The rents charged for the 2 Houses were set much lower than the Agent’s opinion of Open Market rental value.

Town Councillors debated this report at the Full Council Meeting in September and resolved:

1.    That a Commercial Agent be sought to manage the residential properties.
2.    That all residential properties should be charged a rent of within 10% of Market Rental Value. However in the case of the houses 12 months notice would be given of the resulting rent increase.
3.    That a draft Lettings Policy be submitted to members once a decision has been taken on future management.

At the Full Town Council meeting on the 2nd November 2015 eight Councillors put forward a motion to rescind this resolution. This motion was passed by Councillors present by 9 votes for with 2 against. This new resolution means that:

1. The Town Council continues to act as a Private Landlord
2. The rents for the four Flats this financial year will be increased to an amount I believe many would consider to be around Market Rental Value. The rent for the two Houses will be increased to a rent I believe many would consider to be at least 24%  BELOW Market Rental Value and as a result the Town Council  will possibly run the risk of being accused of not meeting it’s duty to obtain best value for Marlborough, not just for tenants, but for the community on behalf of whom they manage the properties.
3. The Council continues to manage it’s properties in-house, although it might seem from it’s previous record that perhaps it lacks the experience and importantly the time to do so.
4. The Council retains the service of an independent Agent for one year to advise the Council on property matters.
5. In the event of a property becoming vacant, the Council will set a rent having regard to both market conditions and the social needs of the community.

Cllr. Stewart Dobson