COVID-19: The government’s update to registered providers on maintenance and repair works – what does it actually mean?21/05/20
On 18 May 2020, housing minister Christopher Pincher MP wrote an open letter to all social housing residents outlining the government’s update to registered providers on maintenance and repair works as landlords. This letter was primarily split into two sections; firstly, maintenance and repairs to properties, both internal and external; and secondly, the importance of gas and cladding works. We explore his update and what this means for RPs.
Maintenance and Repairs
Landlords are now being encouraged to resume routine, as well as essential, repairs for most households, this includes internal as well as external repairs and maintenance to properties. For any internal works, landlords should provide tenants notice before their arrival, and continue to maintain current government guidance on social distancing and hygiene throughout the visit and undertaking of the works. The resumption of routine repairs will enable landlords to begin working through any backlog of repairs which has arisen in recent months.
This guidance also means void properties can be tended to for repairs and maintenance, which may be of importance for any landlords seeking to use these units for re-letting or housing vulnerable people during the Coronavirus crisis.
Wherever a tenant is either shielding, due to being clinically vulnerable, or they, or members of their household, are self-isolating due to exhibiting Coronavirus symptoms, repairs should not be undertaken unless the works will remedy a “direct risk” to the safety of the property or its residents. Landlords should consider such cases on an individual basis and the severity of the risk posed by not completing the repairs or maintenance.
Gas and Cladding
The government has urged tenants to continue to raise any concerns relating to gas at the property to their landlord. In the event of shielding or self-isolating tenants, landlords are again encouraged to take a pragmatic and a balanced view of the gas appliance’s age, maintenance and date of last check.
In any event, landlords are obliged to continue their statutory obligations in respect of gas safety inspections.
Furthermore, unsafe cladding remains a priority for the government, and particularly Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding. Where landlords have properties with such cladding, the remediation works of the cladding is seen by the government as a “top priority“.
The announcement paves the way for landlords and registered providers to resume regular repairs and maintenance works, to both internal and external parts of their properties. Landlords should remain mindful of any vulnerable or isolating tenants, and take the steps outlined above to ensure it is minimising the risk of transmitting Coronavirus.
In the event of urgent repairs or works to gas appliances or cladding, landlords should consider the urgency of each proposed work on a case by case basis, and continue its statutory obligations specifically in relation to gas safety.
Throughout all interactions with tenants and contractors, landlords should continue to observe social distancing guidelines and hygiene procedures.
How can Capsticks help?
Capsticks’ housing team provides a truly full-service, with particular expertise in development, corporate and securitisation, housing leasehold and asset management. We advise housing associations and local authorities on a range of matters including estate regeneration schemes, housing management and tenant engagement, commercial and financial issues, including disputes and governance advice.
If you have any queries around what's discussed in this article, and the impact on your organisation, please speak to Susie Rogers, or any of your contacts at Capsticks, to find out more about how we can help.