Hastoe Housing Association and the Home Group have started a scheme for social tenants which gives the tenants more control over their homes’ maintenance budgets. If successful, it may be extended to the rest of the country.
Under the new government scheme, landlords can offer their tenants the opportunity to manage their own repair budgets. New regulations will mean that all tenants can request this option from their landlords, but do not have to accept more responsibility than they want. The idea is that tenants can get together, like a residents association or a community group, and can use the money to greater advantage, possibly for the whole street or neighbourhood.
Tenants often do their own maintenance and repairs to their rented properties, and this saves the landlord having to do it, and sometimes some of the associated expense. Some tenants are not able to do their own repairs, and this ‘cashback’ scheme will allow repairs to these tenants’ properties to be done more cheaply in conjunction with neighbouring residents’.
Concern has however been raised in relation to the responsibility for the repairs in relation to a number of factors.
Firstly, who will be responsible for the repair? Will it be the landlord (as at present with most tenancy agreements) or will it be the tenant if they carry out substandard repairs? Alternatively, if the tenant appoints an ineffective contractor, who is responsible then? Will every tenancy agreement require rewriting?
Concern has also been raised over whether the system leaves itself open to false claims for work. With most repairs involving small levels of expenditure, in many circumstances checking the validity of the claim for a repair and checking that the repair was carried out appropriately afterwards could cost more than the repair itself under the present system.
Chief Executive of Hastoe Housing Association, Sue Chalkley, said, “I am sure there are residents who will welcome this opportunity to work with us to keep their homes in good repair”. Hastoe rents out over 4000 properties, and Home Group rents out 52,000.
15th April 2011