Regulatory change and service delivery from landlords
11/04/2011 8:25 pm
Hi all regulation is undergoing massive transformations at the moment with value for money and co regulation being the current big buzz words. How do see the current and proposed changes affecting and potentially inlfluecincing service delivery from landlords especially repairs and maintenance. Importantly how do you see new regulations affecting repairs and maintenance standards with the government suggesting tenants should be given control over repairs budgets?
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18/04/2011 3:57 pm
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18/04/2011 9:51 pm
Social Tenants should not be given budgets, they should be given legal aid to take their landlords to courts when repairs are not done or not carried out properly. It's incredible how everybody seem to want to give tenants thins like involvment, budgets, etc, These are all huge cons. If you are a tenant do not fall for them.
If you are a social resident fight for the right to legal aid. No one in government or opposition is prepared to give tenants real power, that is legal aid to defend their rights from landlords.
19/04/2011 8:27 am
Crikey Anon. I'm glad the residents i know aren't like you.
why get on the "offensive" from the off? why not try to work with (you know in collaboration) your landlord to design a repairs service that meets the needs and expectations of the majority of residents (with reasonableness in mind)
better yet, why not get involved with them to understand the bigger picture of managing repairs for 10,000s of properties rather than bemoan everything they try to do.
It is this "entitlement" society that makes the relationship a strained one, not the lack of legal aid.
just for the record - when landlords get it wrong (and i mean seriously not something mundane like taking an extra 2 days to fix a shower) i believe they should recognise this and learn from it - you cannot learn from doing the wrong thing the right way but you can learn from doing it wrong.
19/04/2011 8:38 am
Legal aid for not getting repairs done?? - Yikes!! Simply go to your local council, if the lack of repair is serious enough they will declare it a cat 1 or cat 2 hazard which places a legal obligation to do the work. If the issue is not that serious it wouldn't merit a legal case anyway. When I was a Housing Manager the majority of disrepair cases we got involved with was when radiators "fell off the wall" and cupboard doors "fell off" All on their own?? Nothing to do with your unruly 5 year old then??
19/04/2011 10:45 am
Bill, we, the tenants with the landlord, have designed the services (including repairs and maintenance) to a stand that over 9 out of 10 tenants are happy with.
We have a simply mantra -- if it needs fixing, then fix it within the statutory timescales and even faster if possible. And if 'we' get it wrong, fix it PDQ.
The same applies equally to everything else, it really isn't rocket science and thanks to dedicated staff, a culture change usually takes place and rather quickly too.
There will always be the whingers and there will always be people who will never be satisfied.
Pre transfer, at 'active tenants' ' suggestion (25% response rate), the tenan base was surveyed to see what they wanted and, off the top of my head they wanted:
Low rents -- the government scuppered that idea.
A reasonable property in a good neighbourhood with reasonable neighbours -- our housing association sorted that out nicely.
People thrown out for being a pain in the ears -- our housing association cracked on with it and provided support as the carrot and sometimes when tenants had been given every possible chance, they got the 'stick' - eviction.
Better communities -- 'our' Enforcement Team have become the 'Safer Communities Team' and there are a large number, albeit, small scale, of initiatives (supporting community businesses, educational and training opportunities, and so on).
A better repairs service -- sorted as a priority from the word go and we still beat the repairs service up when they drop a clanger and take a little longer to complete a repair (all emergency, health and safety done more often than not on a 2 hour rather than 4 hour basis).
What tenants DIDN'T want was to be involved to a high level but wanted to know what was going on -- they are somewhat, in part, fed up with it now because they are always encouraged to participate -- as is probably the case with most social landlords.
All of these things were tenant driven with a lot of them tenant-led. It wasn't rocket science and there was little falling out because of reasonableness and that, if care is not taken, lead to complacency.
Our Housing Officers have a "Can we help" attitude rather than a "This IS what you will do" attitude -- I know this because I quiz friends, neighbours and family friends about the services they experience -- it isn't always 100% but generally in the high 90%s.
I read all sorts of horror stories on these threads and sometimes wonder if some people live in the real world. I know there were horror stories during out improvement programme but with changes of contractors (based 50-50 on service/price) these have all but disappeared although things go wrong -- no more full-house improvements for a start!
Everything in the garden is not always rosy but getting it right around 9 times out of 10 is not all that unreasonable, is it?
19/04/2011 11:08 am
There will always be people who will be satisfied with the situation they are in, which is nothing wrong, but the problem (their problem really) is to find anybody else who is unsatisfied a whinger... (which is some social housing professionals' ongoing attitude) their ignorance is that if they are satisfied now is because someone in the past whinged (or even let's say fought hard battles) for them to have better services now... Unless of course they are the religious kind and believe they are satisfied because it's all God's work.
19/04/2011 11:59 am
Anon @ 11-08am. You are not wrong, some tenants are happy to live with the status quo and finding people who are prepared to do something other than whinge is not all that easy.
I know there are people who think that they are right and because they have a gripe or complaint go "ballistic" when others disagree or won't support them.
It will always be a struggle for participating tenants to get things improved because the old chestnut "But the majority of tenants don't agree with you" can be dragged out especially in these days of housing associations (in my case) being squeezed more and more.
Change is coming and I can't see this shower in power increasing tenants' and leaseholders' grip on service delivery, can you?
Often, it is leaseholders who determine levels of services based, I would say on VFM (others might say services for the lowest price with accompanying lower quality), -- tenants seem to think that they can have everything for beggar all.
A, former Chief Housing Officer once said to tenants that they could have everything they wanted providing they were prepared to foot the bill. Nothing is free.
19/04/2011 12:11 pm
Anon, I wasn't "harassing" residents, I was protecting the majority of perfectly decent residents abiding by the terms of their tenancy from having to subsidise the feckless actions of a minority. Do you suggest that HA's should repair without question - every internal door that gets a hole punched in (covered by a poster)? Every cupboard drawer that junior sits on and breaks? The list could go on and on.....
19/04/2011 12:19 pm
I've been in this business of tenant activism for nigh on 30 years and in that time I saw some horrendous service provision by Housing Officers but that was way back at the beginning.
Even then, the majority of housing professionals were fine upstanding people providing a good service without being officious or harrassing anyone.
It is strange, is it not, that nowadays it is, in my experience, some of the tenants are the officious ones and those who cause harrassment?
My experience of front line housing professionals has been good and hard to better but I appreciate that not everyone will have the same experiences,
19/04/2011 2:39 pm
"Every cupboard drawer that junior sits on and breaks? The list could go on and on..... "
Of course to state this you have gone around to these tenants conducted a thorough investigation and then taken them to court one by one and proved in a court of law they were lying.
19/04/2011 3:12 pm
If you want to see what the removal of regulation will have as an effect look at today's Russia.
Previously the heavy control of the Stalinist regime ensured everyone conformed to the regulations, but this was hardly levelling up towards best practice. The slow 'improvements' were inversely related to the massing of personal wealth by the elite.
However, since the Russians achieved western defined freedom mass unemployment, widespread poverty, lowering health and increasing death indicators, the loss of considerable production and the fastest growing crime rate of any developed nation, has been balanced with a few people making one hell of a lot of money.
Deregulation historically has never proven to be the friend of the many. The crackpot notions of our current Housing Minister will prove to be the friends of even fewer.
19/04/2011 3:44 pm
Anon, bless you for flogging this particular dead horse, but no, the burden of proof fell to the resident. If they could REASONABLY prove that the repair they were requesting was caused by normal wear and tear it would be done, no question. In all tenancies tenants are responsible for accidental damage. After all, we all live in houses where radiators fall off walls themselves don't we??
19/04/2011 5:09 pm
What happens if what you say is reasonable it,s different from what the tenant says is reasonable?... who decideds?... Will the tenant get legal aid if the larndlords is wrong?... Or the landlord more likely will come up with barristers at £5,000 a day to bash the tenants into accepting she is wrong?... How many tenants can even represent themselves, let alone have a cheap lawyer?
19/04/2011 5:29 pm
After all, we all live in houses where radiators fall off walls themselves don't we??
In the series of the Joy of Siporex Housing (for which the builder, Mr Costain was compensated for by the government (honestly, not the other way around)). Radiators were known to 'slide' down walls as the fixings slipped through the wall like a knife through butter. The tenant who fitted an early Sky Dish using coach bolts (as earlier arials just fell off the wall) to secure all the way through the panel onto a robust back plate was suprised when the entire 'concrete' panel blew away in the wind using the Sky Dish as a Sail. The tenant who mounted a fish tank to the wall on L-braces was very upset when their toddler crashed into the tank, causing it to tip - through the wall and end up outside .....
But - point taken, other than in exceptional circumstances such as the experimental systems built housing Harry!
Apologies for the interjection - nonny service to be resumed shortly.
19/04/2011 8:14 pm
Is that why some of the above calling people call people Trolls and alike.
When they do come of this site and have a moan about poor services
Rick you luck then or your not living in the real world. What you one of them that reads the glossary maz's and believe what you read is the truth.
19/04/2011 9:36 pm
Anon @ 8-14pm, I, unlike many others, actually live in the real world -- perhaps you should try the real world here in leafy Cheshire?
I don't go in for name calling -- I suffered more than my share of that from when I first landed in this country 50 years ago yesterday.
Name calling me or suggesthing false things about me says more about the person doing the 'calling' than it would ever say about me.
I bother to talk to tenants (and did so today whilst taking a constitutional on my Zimmer frame) and use that information to influence the services provided by my landlord -- services and standards which I played a leading part in designing before transfer.
As for the glossy magazines, you might care to go to my landlord's website and look at a few of them -- you'll find some of my articles in them.
I am a very tolerant person especially as I near my 60th birthday and my increrasingly failing heath affects the amount of effort I can put in to making sure the best is achieved for everyone not just the individual.
However, there will always be people who decry the efforts of others for whatever reason (delusion, jealousy, lack of knowledge, cowardice or just plain ignorance, perhaps?).
In my year or so on IH, I have seen much which demonstrates to me that there are some woeful landlords and tenants out their in their own little worlds.
I am so glad my landlord is a reasonable good one and not one the horrors that those flogging dead horses live under.
19/04/2011 9:57 pm
As I said I don't go in for name calling, I'd better explain that there times when I refer to the 'powers that be' in government (and opposition) by altering their names/what they are called as a mechanism to add humour and/or pour scorn/heap derision upon them by likening them to a comic character/whatever.
I wonder if the Anon above is the one who said on a different something about "nonesense" in the same sentence as "Rick Campbell".
Seems to me that if it's the same person (not very well disguised then?) then obviously 'rules' only aspply to iothers in that, Anon can ask questions but not give answers,
20/04/2011 2:14 am
hoper edei dexiari
20/04/2011 3:12 am
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20/04/2011 11:10 am
An intersting thread that appeas to have lost the plot - even by the standards I set!?!?!
20/04/2011 11:11 am
'r' - I am going to avoid using any complicated machinery today.
20/04/2011 3:53 pm
hoper edei deixia is Greek for quod erat demonstrandum.
But like so much on here, it's all greek to me.
21/04/2011 4:36 pm
Most housing associations have been looking at how to involve tenants more and how to give them a real say in decision making. When tenants themselves have been asked what's important to them and which decisions they would like to influence maintenance and repairs always comes near the top of the list. So it is not surprising that the Government should seek to encourage this. So if every one thinks it is a good idea why hasn't it happened already? The two main obstacles are how do you make the decisions and the fact that the pot of money is always smaller than the amount needed.
The maintenance budget is set for the year and generally involves a rolling programme this might include upgrading facilities like kitchens and bathrooms or modernising the lifts, decorating the communal areas or up grading the call system. Not everything can be don at once due to limited funds so a decision needs to be made on the priorities and also which tenancies/schemes benefit in what order. The added complication is that the rolling programme may be set for the next three years and then budget cuts mean that to save money it gets spread over five years. This is very frustrating if your scheme was in year three. Residents could of course be asked to vote on the priorities. Can a consensus be reached across a number of schemes because in contacting for the work a better deal can be had for placing a larger contract. And what is the criteria for which schemes get the work done first?
The repairs budget is a separate budget for "one off "repairs the broken fencing or the garden wall that has collapsed, the storm damage to the roof , the broken window, the leaking tap or faulty radiator. The budget may be split into minor repairs, major repairs and emergency repairs. Understandably residents want all repairs don quickly but usually the only work guarantee to be done quickly is emergency repairs. And what’s an emergency, something that puts the lives of residents at risk or something that will cause major damage to the building if not sorted immediately like burst pipes or a leaking roof. The broken fencing may not seem a priority but what if it’s a major security issue in a scheme where vandalism and burglaries have been a problem the past.
Often the approach is to allocate each scheme their own repair budget and let the residents decide which repairs get done. But should all schemes get the same amount per tenancy? What about older schemes or ones with a history of vandalism? What happens when the money runs out before the end of the year? Should money be taken out of the maintenance budget to cover? How would you feel if this put back by another year your scheme's planned work on upgrading kitchens and bathrooms?
I am not trying to make this sound so difficult as to not be worth doing. I think many managers would welcome residents being more involved in the decisions about how to spend the maintenance and repairs budget because then they would understand just how difficult it can be.
03/05/2011 12:46 pm
Gosh such big subjects. On a personal note I don't think value for money is new, it's just been emphasised in the current economic climate. If we are all honest we could all look to save a few quid her and there. Work should not be any different. For me the underlying issues surround VFM is that service should not be compromised for cost! In many instances that I have encountered, I have found that organisations do not have a full account of where expenditure is. Do you know what your top 20 spend is? And where appropriate, how well is the service area performing? If costs are high and performance low this is a sound starting point to commence a fundamental service review.
I find the second point quite exciting, providing it doesn't get lost in bureaucracy! Social enterprises, job carving and tenants being equipped to undertake their own repairs sound fine. However, it has taken many landlords, many years to get to grips with stock condition surveys and the wave of information produced on the properties they manage. With this in mind, I suppose the issue is what type of repair would qualify under the scheme as there are many tenants who undertake minor repairs themselves at the moment free of charge. I’ve not quite worked out how VFM fits in here!
There is also 'Right to Repair' legislation and tenants’ compensation schemes available – none of which, since their inception, got off the ground due to red tape. When tenants RTR was introduced, many landlords quickly established multi-trade operatives, equipped with vehicles, Imprest stock and radios to prevent the anticipated claims. I am not aware of one to date? There was also ‘tenants’ own materials’, in which tenants would get materials and undertake repairs themselves.
Outside landlords’ responsibilities i.e. gas servicing, electrical test and inspection, legionella and more recently fire assessments, I believe they should consult and negotiate with tenants on what their priorities are for their homes and estates. The overall control of the budget and its expenditure would remain the landlord’s responsibility.