The South-West Govanhill Property Acquisition and Repair Programme, a two-year pilot that will run from 2015 to 2017, was announced in February 2015.
The original aim was to buy, repair, let and then manage up to 80 properties from private owners and landlords in four tenement blocks bounded by Annette Street, Dixon Avenue, Westmoreland Street and Calder Street. We also take on factoring where we achieve majority ownership. At the end of March 2016, we had bought 82 flats and, by August, we had reached the milestone of 100 property purchases.
The objectives of the programme are to provide better living conditions and tackle overcrowding in the area, while also helping to deliver a more effective system of property management and maintenance. Association ownership also achieves a better tenure balance, offering residents secure tenancies at affordable rents.
The target area contains a total of 580 properties within 76 tenements. We take a number of considerations into account when buying properties, such as whether a full or majority property interest/ownership exists or could be obtained. The focus is on properties where common repair schemes have been carried out or are planned, or where factoring arrangements could be improved. The Association offers are based on independent property valuations from recent market activity. Valuations are carried out by the District Valuer.
Grant funding from the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council was increased during 2015/16 from an original figure of £3.5 million to £5.3 million. Over the two-year period of the programme, the Scottish Government is providing a grant of £4.3 million to purchase and improve the properties for social letting. Glasgow City Council is supplementing the funding with £6.8 million from its affordable homes and property repairs budgets – £4.8 million as grant funding to the Association and £2 million as private sector housing grants, which are available to owner occupiers to make repairs to properties. As a result of the success of the project so far, the Scottish Government has approved an additional £2.5 million to support further acquisitions up to the end of the pilot in March 2017.
Following an application from Glasgow City Council, the four target blocks were designated as an Enhanced Enforcement Area in 2015. This will provide the council with additional powers to enter and inspect rented properties, deal with overcrowding, carry out works and take action against landlords if necessary.
The pilot programme will be assessed before and after it is complete but it is likely that a more comprehensive approach will be needed in the future if a sustainable solution is to be delivered within the wider South-West Govanhill area. The Association is currently exploring with its partners the scope for extending the programme.