Updated Repair Policies - Repairs and Maintenance Policy and Rechargeable Repairs Policy
The Committee were informed of the updates to the Repairs & Maintenance Policy and Rechargeable Repairs Policy.
The Service Delivery Manager (Housing Repairs) guided Members through the report, explaining the current state of the two policies, the reasons for the proposed changes and the full list of changes to the two policies which could be seen at 3.1 and 3.2 of the report.
The Chair thanked the Service Delivery Manager (Housing Repairs) for a comprehensive introduction and praised the concise way in which the changes to the two policies had been laid out in the report.
The Service Delivery Manager (Housing Repairs) fielded questions from the Committee and explained that:
- The Assisted Re-Decorations Scheme was a very popular and commonly requested service from Council tenants over the age of sixty five; often if one resident received the service then many of the residents in the same area wanted the same. It was an expensive service and took time to pack up and decorate an elderly residents house however it was a worthwhile service and Schemes Managers/Housing Officers widely promoted it
- The £40 charge for a tenant that has missed three consecutive appointments had been in effect since 2017; the warning was included in all messages and appointments cards etc to the tenants so that they were fully aware. It was rare that a tenant wilfully missed three consecutive appointments but when they did miss appointments there was a cost to the Council and other residents had to wait longer for their appointments. There was a correlation between the tenants that missed their appointments and the ones who had anti-social behaviour or tenancy issues
- Trickle vents were fitted into all new window installations to alleviate condensation issues
Several concerns were expressed by Members:
- Some of the wording in section ‘37. Domestic Abuse’ was an issue; it was suggested that the word ‘may;’ should be replaced with ‘will’ to convey a stronger message that the Council would always hep domestic abuse victims
- Some of the wording in section ‘6. Right to Buy’ was an issue; it was felt that the first paragraph and the last paragraph contradicted each other as the first paragraph stated that the Council had no obligation to carry out any repairs/maintenance once a property was subject to a Right to Buy application. However the last paragraph implied that works would still be carried out on the properties. It was requested that the wording be checked to ensure it was not contradictory
- The tenants were not always solely responsible for damp and mould appearing in their homes; a variety of issues could exacerbate the problem and it was not always as easy as opening the windows and keeping rooms well ventilated as it outlined in the report in section ’31. Damp and Mould’
In response to the first concern, the Chair responded that that the team had to be very careful with the wording due to the responsibility that would stem from a commitment but the Chair agreed to take it away and consider whether or not the wording needed to change which would also be checked with colleagues in Legal.
In response to the second concern, the Assistant Director (Housing) advised that he would take the concern back to his team and revisit the wording to ensure it was not contradictory, again, with advice from Legal. .
In regards to ongoing issues with damp and mould in tenant’s houses, the Assistant Director (Housing) advised that he had completed a lot of work in that area since he worked for the Council and a significant amount of money had been invested in putting in preventative measures such as certain wallpapers and special paint products etc that were designed to protect from damp/mould. However, many of the measures were not that effective and it was simpler measures that were more successful such as helping tenants make lifestyle changes and cross ventilation in all of the properties. The team engaged with a specialist damp & mould building surveyor (known as the Mould Doctor) who also happened to be a life coach; their expert knowledge and advice that was given to the tenants was very useful in combatting damp/mould. The Assistant Director (Housing) did not have to hand the number of houses with extractor fans installed but he clarified that they were not always the answer as there were many mitigating factors such as how it was used, where the property was located, how the property was heated, the tenants lifestyle and available ventilation etc. The Assistant Director (Housing) reiterated that the Council had made far better progress with the issue when the Mould Doctor was utilised rather than the previous preventative measures.
The Service Delivery Manager (Housing Repairs) further added that by engaging with the Mould Doctor, following the best practice solutions and engaging in two virtual meetings with different Councils to discuss the best approach it had meant Gravesham had been proactive and effective in dealing with the issue.
The Committee noted the contents and updates of the Repairs & Maintenance Policy and Rechargeable Repairs Policy.
- Housing Cabinet Report - Update of Repair Policies, item 15. PDF 92 KB
- Appendix 2 - Housing Repairs and Maintenance Policy September 2020 FINAL, item 15. PDF 243 KB
- Appendix 3 - Housing Rechargeable Repairs and Maintenance Policy September 2020 FINAL, item 15. PDF 105 KB