Housing minister says planned maintenance and void work should resume in letter to social housing tenants

The Government has issued a letter to Tenants which says planned maintenance and void work should resume. Internal planned maintenance will only take place in homes where Tenants are not shielding or self-isolating. The Government expects Lincs Rural to carry out both routine and essential work in most Tenants homes by redesigning services to ensure they meet ongoing social distancing and hygiene requirements. All work will be undertaken by prior agreement to an appointment, and Tenants will be notified in advance of our arrival.

 

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Housing minister says planned maintenance and void work should resume in letter to social housing tenants

NEWS19/05/207

Social housing landlords should resume planned external maintenance and repairs on empty properties, the housing minister has confirmed.

In the letter to all social housing tenants published yesterday, Mr Pincher wrote: “We are expecting many landlords to resume external planned maintenance works and services.

“Internal planned maintenance will only take place in homes where residents are not shielding or self-isolating.
“Your landlord may also carry out maintenance and repairs in empty properties, so that they can be relet to new tenants.”

The update comes after the government published guidance in late March urging private and social landlords and tenants to take a “pragmatic, commonsense approach to non-urgent issues”. This advice led to most social landlords switching to emergency repairs only, with many forecasting a massive backlog of repairs.

Mr Pincher’s letter said: “As we start to ease lockdown measures, landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs for most households. There will be a backlog of repairs that they will need to address, so it may take longer than normal to carry out more non-essential work.”

An MHCLG source told Inside Housing that it expected landlords to carry out both routine and essential work in most people’s homes where capacity allows. They added that the department expected landlords to redesign services to ensure that they meet ongoing social distancing and hygiene requirements but said it would be for landlords to decide how and when to proceed.

Inside Housing has asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for clarity over whether this means routine repairs can begin now, or whether more restrictions need to be removed before they can be cancelled.

In his letter yesterday, Mr Pincher clarified that no work should be carried out in any household that is self-isolating or where an individual is being shielded “unless it is to remedy a direct risk”.

“Operatives entering your home should notify you in advance of arrival, maintain a safe distance and follow hygiene procedures,” he wrote.

On gas safety checks, the government reiterated its view that landlords should “make every effort” to abide by statutory obligations and conduct annual gas safety inspections.

Inside Housing previously reported how a number of housing associations and trade bodies were urging the government to extend gas safety certificates during the pandemic.

The letter said: “If you are shielding, your landlord will balance the risk presented taking into account factors such as age and type of appliance, previous maintenance history and date of the last gas check.

“In some situations, this might indicate that the gas safety inspection should still go ahead.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick moved to restart the housing market last week, allowing people to move homes and view properties.

Commenting on social housing lettings, Mr Pincher said: “This change will apply to tenants who are seeking to transfer, move into alternative accommodation in the private rented sector, or mutually exchange.”

Elsewhere in the letter Mr Pincher said cladding remediation remains a “top priority” for the government. But it yesterday backed away from the June deadline for the removal of all Grenfell-style cladding.

In reference to the suspension on evictions by housing associations, Mr Pincher said: “We are also strongly advising landlords not to issue new notices seeking possession during this challenging time without very good reason to do so.”

 

 

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