8. Current Outcomes and Standards: Repairs, Maintenance and Improvements (Charter outcome 5)
REPAIRS, MAINTENANCE AND IMPROVEMENTS (Charter outcome 5)
Social landlords manage their businesses so that: tenants' homes are well maintained, with repairs and improvements carried out when required, and tenants are given reasonable choices about when work is done.
This outcome describes how landlords should meet their statutory duties on repairs and provide repairs, maintenance and improvement services that safeguard the value of their assets and take account of the wishes and preferences of their tenants. This could include setting repair priorities and timescales; setting repair standards such as getting repairs done right, on time, first time; and assessing tenant satisfaction with the quality of the services they receive.
Question 7a): Would you keep this outcome exactly as it is or change it? Please explain your answer.
8.1 Of the 95 respondents who answered this question 67% considered that the standard should remain exactly as it is; 29% thought it should change; and 3% did not know.
8.2 Amongst the larger categories of respondent, a large majority of TRGs (83%) and local authorities (75%) favoured the status quo; RSLs' views were more evenly balanced between those in favour of retaining the outcome as it is (54%) and those who considered that it should be changed (46%). Table 8.1 in Annex 2 presents a breakdown of views by respondent category.
Views of those in favour of keeping the outcome as it is
8.3 Those in favour of keeping the outcome as it is reported that it appeared to work well and reflected a reasonable approach to giving tenants what they wanted. Two respondents, one local authority and one TRG perceived the outcome to have contributed to significant improvements in landlords meeting their statutory duties on these services.
8.4 Two respondents, one TRG and one RSL, recommended that the outcome should take account of locality to allow for the potential challenges in getting work done promptly in rural and remote areas.
Views of those in favour of changing the outcome
8.5 Two main themes emerged amongst those recommending change to the outcome. Firstly, several respondents, from a range of sectors, emphasised their view that the outcome should reflect tenants being more pro-active in highlighting when preventative maintenance work should be done, and generally being able to request work, rather than be recipients of services at their landlords' control.
8.6 Secondly, a theme to emerge largely from individuals and TRGs was for the outcome to incorporate an aspect of customer satisfaction with the quality of service received. Improvements in the robustness of the satisfaction questionnaire were called for with one TRG suggesting more post-work inspections by landlords to check quality of service.
8.7 Other specific comments are in Annex 3.
Question 7b): Please provide any suggestions on how we could improve the supporting narrative
8.8 A few respondents suggested that the supporting narrative be supplemented with examples of good practice, one RSL specifying that it would be helpful to provide examples of where customers have been satisfied with the service.
8.9 A few respondents recommended that the language used in the supporting narrative in terms of "should" and "could", be made stronger and changed to "shall" and "will". One individual respondent perceived the sentences to be too long.
8.10 Other substantive comments each made by one respondent were:
- Incorporate the expectation that repairs will be carried out promptly into the supporting narrative to complement the reference in the outcome to tenants being involved in setting repairs priorities and timescales.
- There should be clear procedures communicated to tenants on how to raise concerns regarding repairs and maintenance which have not been carried out as expected to the tenants' satisfaction.
- The notion of "reasonable choice" highlighted in the outcome should be unpacked in the supporting narrative with some explanation of how this can be fair for both tenants and landlords.
- Health and safety should be referenced, for example; gas and fire safety; asbestos risks.