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A day in the life of...

Vincent Whyte, Private Sector Housing Officer

My previous job was doing a very similar role at the London Borough of Newham. Newham had very serious problems within the Private rented sector. Disrepair, overcrowding and 'beds in sheds' were common problems in Newham. This led to the council taking action which required every landlord to apply for a property licence if they wanted to rent their property in the borough. After a long time working at Newham, I needed a fresh challenge and Colchester ticked all the boxes for me.

As part of a busy team, our main challenge is to drive standards up within privately rented properties in the borough. We have many good landlords here but, as in any area, there are unfortunately some who are unaware of their legal obligations or choose to ignore their responsibilities. I respond to a wide variety of complaints that may be received from tenants or Health and Social Care partners or other organisations on their behalf. These may relate, for example, to disrepair including damp and mould problems, tenants having no hot water or heating due to a faulty boiler or referrals from the fire brigade regarding fire safety in people's homes. We also have a large student population here in Colchester and we are involved with ensuring that shared houses used by students and other residents or 'houses in multiple occupation' as we call them meet the required standards and are licensed if required.

The most satisfying part of this job is helping people and improving their lives by making their home a healthy place. The link between housing and health is well known to health professionals but is often overlooked by the wider community.

I have only been at Colchester for 3 months so I still have lots to learn here. The private rented sector is the fasting growing housing sector due to house prices being unaffordable for many people. Combined with upcoming legislation changes, this creates great challenges for us as a team to meet the increased demands for the service.