Consumer programme. Matt Allwright travels to Kent to join housing officers on an estate inspection to tackle antisocial behaviour.
Browse content similar to Episode 12. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
As soon as we opened the door, there were flies everywhere.
'Everyone deserves a safe place to live.'
So you've got a choice of the tomahawk or the bayonet.
'But with rents rising and demand increasing,
'it's getting harder and harder to find a secure place to call home.'
A little bit concerned about what's happening here.
'I'm Matt Allwright, and I'm back with the Housing Enforcers.'
That worries me a bit there, look.
-We've got the biggest stinging nettles in the world.
'I'm on the front line
'with those fighting for the right to decent housing...'
The amount of money they owe is in excess of £100,000.
'..as local councils and housing associations
'battle problem properties in slum conditions...'
Hyde Housing - is there anyone in there?
'..as they deal with dodgy landlords...'
He just said he was selling the house.
-When did he tell you that?
-A couple of weeks ago.
-She doesn't like you.
-She hates me.
-Would you want either side evicted?
'..and everything in between...'
There was a shed here, look. There's the base for it.
'..to help those in need of a happy and healthy home.'
Doesn't leave you with a good feeling, though.
It's a tough job.
'Today, I'm on the trail of some antisocial behaviour
'that's making residents' lives a misery...'
These little glowsticks.
-What's all that about?
-They can be an indicator of drug use.
'A dilapidated house gets a much-needed makeover
'after 40 years of filth...'
I think they've never really reported issues with the property,
so I think they were going to lose their home,
and so they kept quiet about some of the problems that they had.
'An empty house is in need of urgent attention....'
If I was that one, I'd be really quite concerned about this,
cos you can see,
it looks like the house is actually starting to depart...
-..from the party wall.
'..while in Wiltshire, a pregnant couple
'are facing an uncertain future.'
I'm sitting here looking around, and I can see no carpets on the floor,
I can see stuff in boxes.
How come you've not unpacked here and settled?
Finding a suitable place to call home for you and your family
has never been harder, especially for those on a restricted budget.
But low rent shouldn't mean your house doesn't live up
to the same basic standards as everyone else's.
Fortunately, there is a group of men and women
who are out on the front line battling on your behalf
against bad and dangerous living conditions.
They are the Housing Enforcers.
When it comes to maintaining a social housing property,
tenants are expected to take care of the usual wear and tear,
but anything more than just a bit of Sunday morning DIY,
and it should be reported to the council or housing association.
Simple in theory, not always straightforward in practice.
It's a situation that Stroud Council housing officer Elaine
and trainee Zoe are familiar with.
They're visiting a house that's undergoing
some much-needed modernisation after it fell into serious disrepair.
And today they're meeting with long-term tenant Sharon,
who lives at the property with her mum,
nearly 80, and sadly, in bad health.
The house wasn't in very good condition,
and Elaine and Zoe stepped in, and said,
"Right, we'll do it all,"
so right from the word go, they've been helping me,
ever since day one.
This is the first time I've been inside since we left.
The pair, who've lived there for over 40 years,
have been moved temporarily into a nearby council property
until their house is ready.
They're a lovely family, but I think they've never really
reported issues with the property, so I think they always thought
that they were going to lose their home, and so they kept quiet
about some of the problems that they had,
where they needn't have.
It was very damp.
A lot of the woodwork had rotted,
so as soon as they try to do anything, it was just falling apart.
-Getting there, aren't we?
-Yeah, it's nice!
'It means loads to me,'
but even more, it's for my mum more.
Everything for my mum.
You know, just being here means everything to her.
I went to school down there, she goes to that church,
all her friends, every single thing.
-Her whole single life, everything is here.
We moved in and we didn't have anything at all, one chair,
a cardboard box, that's all we had.
Although Sharon and her mum may have started with very little,
it's clear the house means an awful lot to them,
and they've really made it their home,
even though it's not always been easy.
It's been quite stressful, obviously, because Mum...
..can't do a lot at her age, obviously,
you know, so a lot of it's been down to me.
I've been brought up with a single-parent family,
so she did everything, that's why I hope to have this done.
As the house hadn't been maintained for nearly half a century,
it was in quite a state.
Finally, fearing for her mum's health,
Sharon contacted the council to ask for help,
and work began to put things right.
We've literally re-plastered, and new woodwork everywhere,
new kitchen, new bathroom, everything.
It's clear their efforts have made a real difference,
not just to the property, but to Sharon, too.
And now that the council's home improvements are nearly finished,
it's time for Sharon to start tackling
the tricky task of deciding on the decorating.
And that would tie nicely in with the grey there, won't it?
That's what I thought, but I wasn't sure...
'She's just a bit unsure on her colour choices'
of her walls and her carpets, and everything,
so I suggested that she came to the property
to get a sneak preview of what we've been up to, as well.
I love it, even without any paint on the walls!
But it's not just Sharon who's enjoying the experience.
What colour are we going for in here?
Normally, in the major refurbishment side of things,
we don't really get any interaction with tenants, to be truthful.
We get the property as the keys are being handed in, empty -
we never really get to see who moves in afterwards,
so to actually deal with someone whose home it is,
Looking to see where furniture goes.
It's all right, she's not doing a rain dance!
'We've got to know Sharon and the family,'
so we know what they like, and they've, in a way, done us a favour,
letting us get in and do the work.
Now that the property is in a good condition,
it will provide a safe and healthy place to live,
not only for this tenancy, but for those in the future.
-Looking good. I'm so glad you like it.
For now, Sharon and her mum are looking forward to moving back in,
and turning their newly-updated house back into their home.
It'll mean everything to her when we come back cos her whole life's here,
like the church over there, all her friends, you know.
She can't wait to come back.
Neither can I!
We'll be catching up a little bit later,
when Sharon and her mum have moved back in.
We've come back now to see how we've changed her lifestyle
and her attitude towards the property.
Hiya! Come on in.
So hopefully all's going to be well.
Antisocial behaviour can have a huge effect on you, your home
and the local community.
Whether it's rubbish dumped on your doorstep
or rowdy behaviour from neighbours,
it's often the housing officers that are first on the scene
to try and resolve the problem,
usually by good old-fashioned detective work and peace-making.
'Today I'm in West Malling, Kent,
'accompanying Shola and Nic from Hyde Housing Association
'on a visit to a local housing scheme.'
Hope you've all got your seatbelts on!
'We're off to investigate reports of some worrying activities
'on the estate.'
This is one of our schemes that was developed and handed back to us
So, why are we going there today - is there a specific reason?
Last week, our colleagues in property services -
this is the team who deal with our repairs and maintenance -
picked up on a couple of issues.
Signs that we had someone who was rough-sleeping in the communal area.
So when you say communal area, is this a hallway - where is it?
This is within a block, it's an entrance hall, it's the stairwells,
it's underneath the stairwell, and it's on different landings as well,
so it is affecting people as they come and go from the block.
I mean, there's no responsibility, as far as Hyde is concerned,
towards the individual,
but that person might need a little bit of help and support.
Is that something that you do,
or would you leave that down to the local authority?
One of the things we do pick up on in our job as housing officers
and being a social landlord, is signposts,
-and people who have varying levels of vulnerabilities.
We do a lot of that, signposting people to agencies
where they can get the support.
It's reckoned there are more than double the number of rough sleepers
on our streets compared to 2010.
Rising rents and house prices and Government cuts to services
are often cited as reasons for this rise,
but clearly, bedding down in a stairwell
is not going to be a long-term solution for anyone.
But before Shola and Nic can offer any assistance
to the mystery rough sleeper, they're going to have to find them.
The initial signs aren't good.
In fact, they're downright disturbing.
A bit of paper there, someone's written...
what appears to be "drugs" on there.
Someone's just taken a sheet of A4, and written the word "drugs" on it.
So, why would they do that?
That, for me, has possible concern that there is somebody
who is actually dealing drugs in here, and this is an indication,
because as you see yourself there's a lot of entrances,
so it could actually be an indicator that this is the block.
It's not very subtle, is it?
It's not very subtle, but equally,
it could be a frustrated resident indicating there are concerns
-that there's drugs.
-That this is where they're selling drugs? OK.
So, this isn't a Hyde notice,
and despite them not wanting us to remove it, we will be.
'Either way, it does back up Shola and Nic's concerns
'about antisocial behaviour here on the estate,
'and after that rather sinister welcome,
'we can start our hunt for our reported rough sleeper.
'Nic thinks she might have found a clue.'
Has it been gummed up?
It has got something in it, which would imply...
This is weird, isn't it, because you can't get access to this now?
No - you can see there's something
that looks like it's been pushed in there.
-Bit of paper or something.
-Someone's calling this home.
But then if you've fitted a lock on the other side,
and you were in there...
So something was definitely in the way, then.
-OK, well, this is...
-It's interesting, isn't it?
So, the light's jammed on.
'Well, it hasn't shed any light on our search,
'but as we continue looking around the estate for the rough sleeper...'
Letterboxes have been vandalised.
'..we discover more evidence of that antisocial behaviour.'
Someone's clearly dumped that.
So what's the process of picking this stuff up?
Is there a regular inspection of these areas,
or does it just happen as and when somebody calls something in?
We have got...
Well, we do spot checks, but in addition to that,
we've got quarterly block inspections,
so once every three months, we're out here,
our residents know the date when we come and do a general inspection
of the entire block from top to bottom.
I mean, there's a few bits that need their attention.
'The hunt for our rough sleeper continues.'
What's going on there, then?
I mean, this is locked, it seems to be locked.
It seems to be secure.
It seems to be, so that's reassuring.
Well, you'd be going well to sleep in there.
'But as we move on to the next block, we turn up more evidence...'
What are they?
'..which may relate to that rather disconcerting notice
'that we found earlier.'
These are strange, aren't they?
These look like these little glowsticks, or something.
Quite worrying that they've been burnt.
-They're burnt on one end.
-What's all that about?
-Again, that can be an indicator of drug use.
If they're burning, they can use that to mix it,
so we have, obviously...
where we see teaspoons and evidence of teaspoons being burnt,
sometimes we get other bits that have been used to move it.
'This estate is home to many families,
'and you can see why Nic and Shola are so concerned
'by what they've discovered.
'There's still the elusive rough sleeper to track down, as well.'
So, I mean, there's no bed here,
there's no evidence of anybody living here right now.
They're probably moving bays.
-Moving from one to the next, maybe?
What we will do, we'll door-knock and speak to a couple of residents
to try and find out a little bit more about what their experience is,
if anyone IS found here, then whereabouts they might be.
A bit of detective work, Shola, going on here.
'And, later on, our detective work might be paying off.'
There was a man, I think, who was living in the bin shed.
Earlier, in Stroud,
we saw how housing officers were faced with repairing a property
after 40 years of neglect.
It was very damp, and a lot of the woodwork was rotten,
so as soon as they started trying to do anything,
it was just falling apart.
And despite the condition of their home,
tenants Sharon and her mum had found themselves suffering in silence.
They're a lovely family, but I think they've never really reported issues
with the property, so I think they always thought
that they were going to lose their home,
and so they kept quiet about some of the problems that they had,
where they needn't have.
The house was in need of total renovation,
and the council wasted no time getting to grips with repairs.
It means loads to me, but it's for my mum more.
Everything for my mum.
Now Elaine is back with Mark, a contractor, to check on progress.
Even though work continues on the roof,
they're hoping to see some real progress indoors.
From the start to where we are now,
it's probably taken six weeks in total -
that's for total refurbishment inside.
I've seen every step of the transformation taking place,
also been working closely with Sharon,
so that she's sort of gaining trust in us
that she is coming back to the property.
We've come back now to see how it's changed her lifestyle
and her attitude towards the property,
so hopefully all's going to be well.
Sharon and her mum were initially nervous of approaching the council
for help, worried they might lose their home if they made a fuss.
They seem a lot happier now.
We're still lucky the house is lovely, aren't we?
Yes, we are. It's much better now.
After what it was like.
-All that mould and cracks in the walls.
-It's all gone.
-Nothing for you to fall over now, either, is there?
No, there isn't, nothing at all.
-It was terrible, wasn't it?
It's clear they can't wait to show off their new home.
Hiya! Come on in.
All right? How's it going?
It's going well, really well.
-We're really pleased.
The most obvious change is in the kitchen.
Didn't have any cupboards to put anything in,
didn't have any surfaces to put anything on,
there was massive great cracks in the floor, so...
It was quite dangerous to walk around,
and Mum was struggling not to fall over in here.
-Got the washing machine underneath the sink.
-Cos that wasn't in here, either.
-No, that's right, yeah.
At the time that was stuck out there,
which was really difficult, as well,
and all the windowsills just falling apart,
and all the stuff was just, like, coming out of the walls.
-All the insulation.
-Onto the sink, and stuff like that, as well,
it was just really, really horrible.
Yeah. And your mum's all fine with it?
Yeah, she loves it, she's just a bit shy, and she just...
The house has had a complete renovation.
Oh, you've got this nice, Sharon, in here.
-Yeah. Now I've got a few pictures up, and...
The living room, which once resembled a building site,
now looks more like a place you'd be proud to call home.
-It looks quite nice, doesn't it?
-Yeah. It looks good.
The scale of the renovations has been enormous,
from the paintwork to the carpets.
Sharon had been nervous her mum
wouldn't be happy moving out while the work was carried out,
but with Elaine and the council's support,
things seem to have worked out well.
It took a lot to persuade her.
But once I persuaded her
-as soon as we got back, everything would be great...
..and now she's back, she loves it.
Oh, fantastic news.
And the good news continues in the bathroom.
Oh, this is looking good, isn't it?
-It was really bad before.
Yeah, yeah, I remember the black mould and everything, yeah -
all running down the walls.
It was really, really bad. We didn't have a shower, either.
Once again, it's Mum who seems to be enjoying the changes most.
She loves the bath, the new bath, and stuff.
-So it really has made a hell of a lot of difference.
Usually renovation jobs like this one
are fairly straightforward affairs,
but sometimes councils have to recognise
that just like every property,
every resident who lives inside is different.
Normally these types of jobs, we don't get involved with the tenants.
The tenants move in after we've done our bits and pieces,
so, we don't ever get to meet the tenants like we have on this one.
-It's changed our lives a lot, hasn't it?
Just for the better, really.
-Of course it has.
-And we can have our mates in.
Before that we weren't that keen, because the place was such a tip.
You know, so it's everything to us now.
-It has changed our life a lot.
-That looks nice in there, very nice.
And really, it's a credit to the council
for spending the money on the property.
-It makes you feel a lot happier, doesn't it?
-Yeah, it does.
Couldn't wish for a better outcome - it's made their lives better.
All been done fantastic.
I don't have to worry about her having accidents in here
and falling over and stuff like that now.
Going from somewhere which was so bad...
-..to this is a total transformation for me and Mum.
We couldn't have expected any better, or wish for more, really.
Defending our right to a safe place to live
is the job of housing officers right across the UK.
Fire service turned up, didn't they?
There was no need for them!
-There WAS a fire.
-There was not!
I'm working alongside the men and women that do exactly that.
This one's the worst that I've seen.
The amount of mould is quite shocking, actually.
Hitting the streets...
-..finding out what's happening on the front line...
Warrants have been issued and they can be enforced.
..as we make sure a house is a fit place to call a home.
That one there?
-Oh, look at that!
-There's another one.
I now have got somewhere I can call home, and it's permanent.
That's got to be a good thing.
Not having any neighbours might be some people's idea of heaven,
but living next door to an empty house
can bring another set of problems.
It's been reckoned that despite a desperate shortage of decent,
affordable homes across the UK,
there are a staggering 600,000 properties
sitting empty in England alone.
So, local councils are doing their best to get tough
on derelict properties.
Here in Croydon, it's the job of dedicated empty homes officer
Francis Burton to tackle the issue head-on.
-Hi, Matt. Good to see you.
How are you doing?
I've been to a lot of different councils,
and I don't think I've ever met one of you!
Somebody that just does what you do.
They sometimes mix it up with other things.
That's right, yeah - it's sometimes seen
as an environmental health officer's role as well
to take care of empties.
Is that because there are more empty properties here,
or because there is a greater need than there is
in other parts of the country, or is it a mixture of the both?
The role sits within the housing department,
and it recognises that an empty property is a wasted resource,
and so Croydon said we need somebody within the housing department
to locate these properties, negotiate with the owner,
if they can be traced, and bring the properties back into use.
So it's a housing-driven service.
With more than 2,000 people currently living
in temporary accommodation in Croydon alone...
..top of the hit list for Francis today
is a terraced house in an appalling state of disrepair.
This is one that's been empty for a number of years.
If I just said to you,
"OK, what do you see immediately wrong with that property?"
Seen a lot of properties, but this one looks the least lived-in.
The roof looks in need of repair in all the places
where it's going to cause problems inside the property.
It's either been burnt out or had the windows smashed at the top here.
Have I spotted most of it?
One of the things that concerns me is this crack
going through the lintel above the door.
It does extend all the way up to the party wall.
So, it certainly needs investigation,
but that looks like a big structural question mark.
-That's right. Yes.
-It would need to be addressed
-before you can even think of getting anyone near that place.
'There have been complaints from neighbours
'about the state of the property,
'and as we arrive, it's not hard to see why.
'It stands out like a sore thumb.'
And you can see, it's a lovely road.
-I mean, who wouldn't want to live here?
'Empty properties like this one aren't just a wasted resource -
'they can rapidly become a blight on the lives of the whole neighbourhood
'and it seems Francis isn't the only one at the council
'having to deal with the fallout here.'
One of the other things -
you'll notice empty properties tend to attract a lot of fly-tipping,
which is why we've got the team here from the neighbourhood safety team,
who are here to deal with the fly-tipping.
What have you found so far?
At the moment, it's household items,
so we haven't been able to identify specifically where it's come from.
So, what we're going to do now is we'll call out to our contractors
and ask them to come and collect it,
so they'll collect it within the next 48 hours.
-I'm going to let you do that. Is that all right?
-Yeah, I don't mind.
Don't take it... I haven't got gloves.
No, it's fine. You hold on to those.
They're yours. Cheers!
You should never share another man's gloves. Maybe next time, eh?
This is a clear example, though,
of the need for Francis' specialist role.
This empty house has already attracted antisocial behaviour,
and if you times that by the estimated 900
other unused properties in the area,
you can see why the council's so keen to tackle the problem.
Which brings us back to this property.
It's a heart-breaking sight.
This was probably once a much-loved and well-cared-for family home.
But now it's not just neglected -
it could actually be putting lives at risk.
So, the path is relatively OK.
We're safe on the path.
Yeah. Although there are a danger of tiles falling off
-in this corner here.
So you do need to be a bit careful,
and probably here is about as far as it's safe to go.
-Yeah, look, there's one on the floor there.
If I was that one, I'd be really quite concerned about this,
cos you can see - it looks like the house
-is actually starting to depart from that party wall.
Fortunately, if an owner's unwilling or unable to bring an empty property
back into use, or it's causing a nuisance to neighbours,
councils have the power to buy it with or without their permission,
and Francis is already on the case.
It's already been approved for compulsory purchase.
The papers are currently with external solicitors
to make sure that I've ticked all the boxes,
and everything is in place.
That should come back within two weeks or so,
so that everyone is alerted to the fact
that the property is going to be compulsory-purchased
on a particular date in the future.
So, hopefully, it won't be too long before the council can get stuck in
to turning this sad wreck back into a much-needed family home.
-The ball's rolling, effectively, isn't it?
Notices have got to go in, and make that a place people can live again.
Well, that property remains sealed.
Unfortunately, the fly-tipping is continuing,
but so is the enforcement action,
so hopefully there should be some resolution in sight.
With more than 1.2 million people on the social housing waiting list
in England alone, it's clear that demand for affordable housing
is still outstripping supply.
For those tenants in need of accommodation,
they can apply to be on a local housing register,
and then bid online for a vacant property.
Whether they're successful depends very much on their circumstances.
Today in Wiltshire,
housing officer Belinda Eastland
is meeting a young couple to assess their suitability
for a brand-new property that's just become available.
So, today we're off to visit Ashley and Richard,
who are looking for a house closer to Ashley's mother.
Ashley's feeling rather isolated where she is.
She needs her support network around her, and I do know that they've been
through a difficult time.
For some reason or other, they were faced with homelessness, and Ashley,
despite being ill at the time,
chose this property that they're living in now,
which they've only been in four months,
because she was worried about becoming homeless,
but it's not really worked out for her here.
So, we're going to talk that through today.
Ashley and her partner Richard are expecting their first child,
and need a bigger property.
But with a baby due in a few weeks,
and the possibility of a house move on the cards,
Belinda wants to check that a relocation
won't be too stressful for the couple.
Hello, White Horse Housing.
So, thank you for meeting with me today.
That's all right.
It's a result of you having been matched
on the Homes for Wiltshire system to this two-bed property
which you bid for.
Looking through the application form,
obviously I can see that you've had mental health problems.
I'm assuming you're feeling well at the moment,
-cos you're still working?
Yeah, a lot of people think, always say to me,
"You work, so you can't be poorly."
But believe it or not,
-it's working that balances me out a lot of the time.
And what's your diagnosis, exactly?
-They say bipolar...
-..but obviously, there's a lot more tests
and things that you have to go through.
So, in terms of how your housing is going to improve your health,
I'm assuming it's because you're going to be back closer to your mum.
-Closer to the support network.
My greatest thing is support.
And the thought of being on maternity
an hour away from the family, I mean, some people might say,
-"Well, it's an hour," but I don't drive, so it's, you know...
-And I think it's five buses to get there.
-Oh, my goodness.
With no fast or easy way to get to her mum's,
it's no wonder that Ashley's been left feeling a little bit lonely.
Belinda's also concerned by signs
that the couple haven't really settled in their current home.
So, Ashley, I'm sitting here, looking around,
and I can see no carpets on the floor.
-I can see an upended sofa.
I can see stuff in boxes.
What is it that's going on?
How come you've not unpacked here, and settled?
There isn't room for anything, for starters.
-Obviously there's no room to put our second sofa in.
But things are in boxes because we literally have nowhere to put it.
And how do you think you're going to cope?
Obviously, I can see you're about to have a baby!
So, you're in this one-bedroom flat,
clearly not big enough for you once the baby comes along,
What do you think will be in place for you then?
-Obviously you've got the health team through the midwives.
-Oh, that's good.
-They offer support.
-My mum, my sister, are the main people I need.
Now that Belinda has put her mind at rest,
they can begin to think about the new house,
assuming their application goes to plan.
Speaking of which...
-I have actually brought some plans today...
-..which I can show you,
and give you a bit of a better idea of the property.
So, just two of the homes are ours, and therefore rented, OK?
-Is it a shell, or are there things put in there?
-No, there will only be flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms.
-So, you've got a whole house to carpet.
The thing is, we can save up for them - that's fine.
But you've got other priorities, anyway, haven't you?
You've got the rent to think about, the council tax,
you've got the utility bills.
-You know, they're your priorities, aren't they?
-So that you can remain in the house.
-Which we're very good at managing.
-That's one thing we are good with - rent and council tax.
-Everything's marked up on a bit of paper.
I can see that you're working well together,
and... You know, you desperately want this to work, don't you,
and you desperately want to keep the tenancy of that home?
I don't want to get your hopes up,
-because the final decision isn't mine to make.
We'll have to wait. We'll have to go through the assessment.
How do you feel about that?
I want to be excited, but I'm frightened too.
-Hopefully I'll have good news, but we'll have to wait and see.
Well, it looks like the foundations are in place for a positive result,
but the expecting couple will have to be patient
for a little bit longer.
'If Ashley and Richard are successful
'in getting this property,'
it will be a new start for them.
I can see that, and that's the nice thing about this job, actually -
being able to give people a new start.
Later on, we'll find out if Ashley and Richard's dream of a new home
'I'm back in Kent with Hyde housing officers, Nic and Shola.'
We've been searching for a reported rough sleeper
here on this local estate.
'So far, we've failed to find any signs
'of where they might be sleeping, or even if they're here at all.'
You'd be going well to sleep in there.
But we have seen plenty of evidence of antisocial behaviour.
Someone's just taken a sheet of A4, and written the word "drugs" on it.
'Rachel is a resident here on the estate,
'and Nic and Shola are hoping she might be able to point us
'in the right direction.'
One of the reasons why we're here today, Rachel,
it's been brought to our attention that it looks like
-we've got a rough sleeper in one of the...
-That's right, yeah.
In one of the cupboards. So, we're not sure which one it is.
We've been opening them up,
and there've been signs as we've gone along.
Have you actually seen...?
-Once, I saw the man.
It was a man, I think, that was living in the bin shed...
-..opposite where I am.
-Did you recognise this person?
-No. Never seen him before.
-Is it something you'd never seen?
-Never seen him before, no.
But there is signs - like you've said, I've seen signs myself.
'So, there we have it - confirmation there is a rough sleeper on site,
'and Rachel's also got information about the antisocial behaviour.'
They have a lot of young children that come along and play,
and think it's fun to be smashing up people's letterboxes, and stuff.
-We noticed a lot of damage to the communal letterboxes.
But they don't live in this estate.
Do you know why they come on this estate?
Just for fun, really, cos there's a lot of litter.
People dump their fridges, their beds in the bins, and it's really...
It does make us quite angry, actually.
-But they've been there a long time.
There's, like, a cooker in there, that's been there for over a year.
-It just doesn't go.
None of the stuff ever leaves.
The other thing that we've got reports of
is that there's been drug use.
Oh, that's quite common, actually.
There's quite a lot of people that smoke weed,
and smoke outside the back.
'So, our chat with Rachel has been really useful.
'Housing officers can't do it by themselves.
'It's only by working with tenants
'that life on this estate is going to improve.'
I got the feeling that there WAS a sense of pride there,
or there was at least a sense that she wanted to make things better,
which was really refreshing, wasn't it?
But, regrettably, you don't find that cuts across all residents.
You could find it among a certain group of residents,
and other groups of residents may not necessarily want to know.
And what we...
Our aim as landlords is to actually make sure as many people
actually abide by that culture.
'Now we can follow up on that lead
'about where the rough sleeper has been spotted.'
I tell you what,
-I wouldn't mind having a look in that cupboard there.
We can have a look.
Cos that looks like it's had the lock broken off it.
Is that the bin cupboard again?
HINGES SQUEAK LOUDLY
It's a right pickle, isn't it?
'We may not have found the rough sleeper,
'but we have found something else.
'More evidence of antisocial behaviour - fly-tipping.'
So, this has really built up, hasn't it?
This is floor to ceiling, almost, isn't it?
Stuff has just been chucked here.
Yeah, we've got tellies here, we've got a bed base...
Well, there's a big clue to who could be responsible for this.
-Can you see it?
-Have we got a label on a box somewhere?
Come on, this is where you've got to use your detective skills here.
'To be honest, I'd say the writing's on the wall.'
Come on, then.
So there, on the wall, we can see somebody being thoroughly dobbed in.
We've got the name and the number of the flat, and not very politely,
being asked to put the bags in the bin, expletive.
It's like putting together a jigsaw.
-Oh, that was very good.
-Just seen what you did there.
'And we've still got a piece missing from the puzzle.
'We haven't managed to track down our rough sleeper.'
If I was going to be sleeping rough,
I'd probably choose cycle store over bin store.
-Don't fancy the smell.
-Don't fancy the smell at all.
'Today hasn't been a total waste of time.
'Shola and Nic are leaving with plenty of information
'that could help improve life for residents like Rachel.'
We've got lots of different issues here.
We've got the litter, we've got the debris,
we've got the build-up of rubbish in the bin stores
that we need to deal with.
We've got some of the locks damaged, we've got repair issues,
we've got stuff building up in communal areas.
We want people to feel proud about where they live,
and so we need to be getting on top of this.
We'll also be able to find out a bit more about what the lady was saying,
about the drug activity,
so we can start addressing that, and dealing with that.
By having relationships and getting to know the people on the estate,
it will help us get more information.
Well, good detective work, team.
I think we've been Starsky and Hutch,
-and I don't know what I am!
'Whatever I am, it's good to know that these two are on the case.'
Well, despite those efforts, the rough sleeper was never found,
but after the visit,
repairs have been made and new doors installed to improve security.
Hyde have also been working with residents
to help improve life on the estate,
including better ways to report incidents of antisocial behaviour,
especially where they involve drugs.
All of that, hopefully, will help improve life for everyone there.
Back in Wiltshire,
housing officer Belinda Eastland was working with young couple
Ashley and Richard.
They're about to become parents, and have been waiting to find out
if they can move to a brand-new home
before the impending arrival of their new child.
I can see that you're working well together,
and you know, you desperately want this to work, don't you?
-I don't want to get your hopes up, because the final decision
-isn't mine to make.
Well, four weeks later, and the wait is over.
Belinda's been given the green light,
and she's off to meet the couple to show them their new home.
'Today's the day that we can hand the keys to Richard and Ashley.'
This is one of the best days for me -
where you've been to see households who are in dire need of re-housing,
and then you get to this day where you're actually giving them keys.
You're not just giving them keys to this house -
you've giving them keys to a safe, secure future.
Hi, how are you feeling?
-Nice to see you.
-Good day for you.
-Hi, Richard. All right?
-Yeah, not too bad, thank you.
This is the day you get your house.
Yes! This has been a long wait.
Yeah. It's really exciting for us, as well.
It will be great to actually, you know, hand it over to you.
With a new arrival on the way,
coupled with Ashley's health problems,
it looks like this property may be the perfect way to provide
the stability this couple desperately needs for the future.
-14 minutes from Mum's place.
14 minutes! Great, yeah!
So she'll be a regular visitor, won't she?
-Yes, she will.
-How lovely to have her only 14 minutes away.
I think you might need that, won't you, over the coming months?
So, shall we go inside, then, and have a look?
Yeah. Go for it. Welcome!
Ashley and Richard have only ever seen the plans for the house.
This will be the first time through the door.
It looks like the first impressions are positive.
Outside, plenty of room.
And how are you sorted for carpets?
Cos obviously you've got concrete floor here.
We've got the rugs, haven't we?
-You're going to put rugs down till you can afford it?
-Only a couple of weeks.
-That's the worst thing we've got to tackle.
And the kitchen, I mean, that's just got everything we need in it.
-I don't think I've ever had a larder that big.
Well, the downstairs seems to have gone down well,
and the good news continues upstairs.
It's just nice to know that we're not going to be
with a baby in the old property.
And there's my favourite part - the heated towel rails.
I know that's slightly embarrassing to get excited about but that is...
This will be the baby's room.
And Richard's girls when they come to stay.
-Yeah. Yeah. So we'll get a bunk bed in here, I should imagine...
..with a nice little wardrobe.
Beautiful-sized, as well.
It looked a lot smaller on the plan.
This is our bedroom.
-Go on, Ash!
That's just amazing! I know, I know.
-It goes all the way to the end, look.
I don't think we could buy enough clothes to fill that!
Oh, you don't need to worry about that - you've got a baby coming!
With the tour complete, there's just the matter of the paperwork.
Richard and Ashley will begin life in this home as starter tenants,
and all being well, they'll become eligible for a full,
assured tenancy in 12 months' time.
So, what we've got to do now is sign the tenancy agreement.
Give me some money, and then I'll let you sign it!
-There you go.
-I've never been so happy to give away nearly £600!
Thank you so much. Well, we're happy to give you the house.
So, you need to sign those.
So, you're down here.
So, if you go top line, Ashley, Richard, go underneath.
At least yours stays the same, like.
I'm signing on behalf of White Horse Housing now.
It's absolutely fantastic being so close to everything,
-..this has finished so well, hasn't it?
Hasn't it just?
Belinda's work here is done.
Now it's up to Ashley and Richard.
-Keep well, then.
-See you soon.
-Thank you, Belinda.
New baby on the way, new home.
You can understand if they're a bit overawed.
-I don't know what to do first!
-Neither do I!
-Maybe sort things out, like.
-Yeah, that's probably a good idea.
Front door there. Patio doors there.
-There's hundreds of them!
-I know - five shed keys.
Six patio door keys!
We wish them the very best of luck together.
Close to my mum, close to my sister, close to work.
It's easy to see a future here, isn't it?
-Close to a supermarket.
-Oh, my, yeah! Absolutely!
It genuinely couldn't be any better.
I don't think you could imagine anything any better, could you?
Ashley needed something like this to pick her up and get her back
on track again.
I can see a big improvement in her.
It was lovely today when she actually said to me
that she feels balanced.
So, this is what we've done.
We offered her a beautiful home.
She's now got the foundation to build the rest of her life.
She feels balanced.
She feels happy.
And that's why we're here - that's what we do.
We give people opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise get.
If I was going to put a scale on it, out of ten,
I'd be ten, happy-wise.
Well, the good news continued for Ashley and Richard.
After moving in, a baby girl,
Lottie Skye Betty Harris, was born just before Christmas,
weighing 7lbs 9oz.
Mother, father and new daughter are all doing well in their new home.
That's it for today, but join me again next time,
when I'll be back on the front line with the Housing Enforcers.
Matt Allwright travels to Kent to join housing officers on an estate inspection to tackle antisocial behaviour. In Wiltshire, there is a race against time for expectant parents to find a home for their new baby. In Stroud, a mother and daughter's house is facing extensive renovation after 40 years of neglect. While in Croydon, Matt comes face to face with a house that is falling apart.