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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20/04/2011 2:14 am
hoper edei dexiari
20/04/2011 3:12 am
This post has been removed.
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.