Housing Officer

Mark Lancaster is one of our Housing Officers, working across the Skegness area. He is often out and about working with customers to address a series of issues, including anti-social behaviour. We joined him on a day on the road…

A day in the life - Housing Officer

9am – I get into the Boston office and log on to my computer before catching up on any new cases or emails I may have received.

9.30am – It is time to get on the road. My first appointment is in Wainfleet.

10am – I arrive in Wainfleet. We have a property here where a mattress has been left on a driveway and we are concerned about the possibility of rodents. The customer has been asked to remove the mattress and I am checking if this has been done. It has, although it is now at the back door to the property, so I shall write to them again and ask them to dispose of it properly.

10.45am – My next stop is Skegness. One of our customers here experienced a personal trauma years ago which led to a case of hoarding. A few months ago, alongside some local charities, we supported her to clear out her flat as it was presenting a fire hazard and seriously impacting on her wellbeing. I’m calling to check on her progress and I am delighted to see that she has kept on top of the flat and has kept it very tidy and organised. This has massively improved her life as she can now access all rooms, can get a good night’s sleep in her bed and no longer poses a fire hazard.

11.20am ­– I pop across to another flat where there is another hoarding case, which we are due to clear out soon. I want to check with the customer that they are aware of what will be happening on the day and that they are prepared. Everything seems to be ok and we are ready to get started.

We have received a tip-off that there is a pile up of rubbish in front of a house, so I am visiting to inspect it and interview the customer. Upon arrival, I can see the rubbish has been cleared.

11.45am – I move on to another property in Skegness, where we have a suspended possession order. This means the customer must adhere to certain conditions otherwise we can go to court and get possession of the property. One of these conditions is that we are given access to the property to check it is being maintained to the standards we would expect but unfortunately the customer is not prepared to let me in today. I tell him to call us to arrange another appointment and I will report this back to our Legal Enforcement Team who will decide on the most appropriate next step. This is a shame as the customer has been engaging well for the last six months and we have made massive progress. While here, I also bump into some other customers. One wants to discuss the housing lists with me, as well as some dog barking from other flats, while another lets me know he now has a puppy in his flat and asks for some CCTV footage as his car has been vandalised.

12.15pm – Its now on to another customer in Skegness. Unfortunately, they are due to be evicted due to a serious case of hoarding that is causing bad environmental health issues. They haven’t been engaging with us at all so we have had to use our last resort, which is eviction. We were also informed by a neighbour of a water leak at the property. We asked the customer to report the leak for repairs, but this hasn’t been done. I dropped off six bottles of water to her the previous day to make sure she had drinking water, but again she hasn’t spoken to us about the water issues.

12.30pm – I go to see a couple of customers at another scheme in Skegness. At the first, I need them to sign a transfer document so that they can transfer to another of our properties in the same block. Here, I also do a spot check on another flat where we have received reports of hoarding. I am allowed access and the customer says she is unwell and just needs to tidy the flat up. I wouldn’t say she is hoarding, but it is a very untidy flat which could cause fire hazards and so I give her a couple of weeks to clean it up and tell her I will return to inspect it then. The customer is also offered help and support to tidy the flat if she would like it, but she insists she can manage on her own.

1.45pm – Time to head to Spilsby. We have a property where the customer has told us they have left, but we haven’t been given the keys. This means we need to serve a Notice to Quit document, giving them four weeks to respond to our request for the property back. If we don’t get a response, we can take possession.

2.20pm – I am now in Tattershall where I am visiting a couple who we have been working with for a long time. They have some rubbish stacked up in the shared passageway at the back of the property which needs moving. When I arrive, it is still there so I ask them to at least move it into their own garden while they save the money to pay for somebody to remove it. They agree to this so I am happy. I also remind them about noise levels and other anti-social behaviour issues, as there have been a few reports in this area recently. I arrange to return in two weeks to check everything has been done.

A few months ago, alongside some local charities, we supported her to clear out her flat as it was presenting a fire hazard and seriously impacting on her wellbeing. I’m calling to check on her progress and I am delighted to see that she has kept on top of the flat and has kept it very tidy and organised.

3pm – This appointment is in Woodhall Spa. We have received a tip-off that there is a pile up of rubbish in front of a house, so I am visiting to inspect it and interview the customer. Upon arrival, I can see the rubbish has been cleared. I knock on the door to have a chat with the customer. She tells me that it was bags of kids toys to be donated to the charity shop and some recycling from the Christmas period, so I am happy to close the case. While at the property, our conversation moves on to discussions about her eligibility for Homeswapper as she is interested in moving elsewhere. She also asks if she is allowed a skip in the communal car park and I explain as long as it is in her allocated space, it would be fine. She seems happy with this and says this will also enable her to dispose of other items and bits of rubbish that she wants to get rid of.

3.45pm – I head to another property in Woodhall Spa where there is an action plan in place regarding the condition of the interior of the property. I’m pleased to see they are keeping on top of it, but outside isn’t so good. There are lots of children’s toys and a mattress in the back garden and we’ve asked the customer to sort these and remove the unwanted property properly. I’ll be issuing a formal warning about this to make sure it gets sorted.

4.30pm – I stop in a layby on my way back to check my emails and respond to anything that is urgent or business critical. It can be difficult to keep on top of emails when out on the road, so I use any time I can to do so.

4.45pm – That is it for today. I head home and put my feet up before it all begins again tomorrow.     

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