Rent Arrears, Repair Targets, Compliance & Complaints Review
In October 2021, our tenant contribution arrears were £55,734. This has remained at around this level since we last reported the figure in May 2021. This figure is equivalent to 1.18% of our rental income. The benchmark standard for tenant contribution arrears for Housing Associations is 2% of rental income.
Benchmarking is a way of comparing our performance against other organisations that provide similar services. In this instance, our tenant contribution arrears are lower than the benchmark.
“Tenant contribution” refers to the amount of rent outstanding to Southdown which we anticipate that the tenant is liable to pay themselves. If a tenant’s rent was £100 and they received £80 per week from housing benefit we’d say their “tenant contribution” was £20.
In October 2021, we both attended and completed 100 % of emergency repairs within target.
98.61% of our urgent repairs were attended to and completed within the target timescale of 7 working days. This is above our target of 95%.
95.19% of standard jobs were attended to and completed within our timescale of 28 working days. Our targets are 95% attended to within timescale and 90% completed within target.
Every month our Compliance Manager compiles a report which is shared with senior management, the Executive Team and the Board, showing how Southdown are managing various areas of compliance that we are responsible for.
The information below is for October 2021 and shows that we are 100% compliant in most areas, except for Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Alarm Servicing, Fire Equipment Servicing, Thermostatic Mixing Valve (TMV) servicing, and Energy Performance Certificates.
There are two sites that are overdue for Fire Risk Assessments. One of them has had the Risk Assessment carried out but we are awaiting the written report on this Assessment. The other site proved difficult to gain access to, but an Assessment has now been booked for the 4th November 2021.
Two sites have proved difficult to get access to for Fire Alarm Servicing. Second appointment letters have been sent to the tenants, and the Housing Management team is working to arrange successful appointments.
There are also two sites that are overdue for Fire Equipment Servicing. Both of these have had instructions issued to our contractors for the work to be carried out and we have been regularly contacting them to arrange these appointments.
A TMV is a thermostatic mixing valve - a fitting that is installed to control the temperature of the water coming from a tap or showerhead. It is installed on the hot water feed pipework, before the water reaches the hot tap. It allows cold water to be mixed with hot, ensuring the temperature from the hot tap is regulated. TMV servicing is usually carried out annually and involves a contractor checking that this component is working correctly. When a TMV isn’t working correctly there can be a risk of a person scalding themselves on water that is too hot.
Most of our TMVs are located within our Registered Care and Supported Living services where there are staff on site. Staff at those services are performing regular temperature checks and are under strict instructions to report any adverse (hot or cold) temperatures to our Property Services Team. We felt that during the pandemic the greatest importance at these services was shielding vulnerable tenants and we deemed that staff checking water temperatures religiously but foregoing the TMV checks was less risky than having contractors in the building and moving between clients rooms, potentially transmitting the virus. As the risk is now much lower and as more and more people have been vaccinated, we recommenced TMV servicing from April 2021. Our contractors are performing Lateral Flow Tests before entering our Supported Living and Registered Care services. We anticipate being fully compliant again by March 2022.
There are three tenanted sites where we have not been able to gain access to carry out Energy Performance Certificates. Though this is not a legal requirement, we have made a policy decision to get these done and the Housing team is working hard to arrange these appointments.
Your right to safety and compliance certification
You have a right to request any of the following in relation to your property or block:
Fire Risk Assessment (commissioned annually)
EICR - Electrical safety certificate (commissioned every five years)
Gas Safety Certificate (commissioned annually in properties with a gas supply)
EPC Certificate (showing the energy performance of your property)
If you do want us to send certification to you, please fill out our online form. Our default will be to email the documentation to you but if you do not have access to email please tick the box requesting that this certification be sent by post.
There have been four complaints that were upheld or partially upheld between April and October 2021.
One of the complaints was due to a Data Breach. This was where a single tenant’s contact details were given to another landlord in error. Due to this, our lead officer for Data Protection was invited to the Housing Team Meeting and staff were reminded of the importance of protecting our clients’ confidentiality. There was a discussion of what a breach of data confidentiality is and how to avoid it, and we talked through the processes for immediately reporting Data Breaches.
There was one complaint about poor communication with a tenant and we have now asked our Housing Assistants to reply to all calls within 24 hours.
There were two complaints about maintenance and repairs where tenants felt that repairs were not carried out in a timely manner. The lessons learnt from these complaints were that Housing Division staff need to be more proactive in ensuring that repairs are completed even if there are delays due to access issues or insurance claims. All parties also need to ensure that communication between them gives clear direction and is clear about what is expected from each person, and by what date. We have written a new protocol for dealing with future insurance claims, and we have asked our contractors to keep better records of all their interactions with tenants, especially where access has been denied.