Repairs and maintenance policy

1. Background

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) is an Arms’ Length Management Organisation, (ALMO), responsible for managing 26,000 council homes on behalf of Newcastle City Council (NCC) and Leazes Homes.

Our vision is to be ‘First for housing’ and our approach to Repairs and Maintenance supports our Business Strategy: Destination 2022 and the strategic objectives of:

  • Amazing places where people are proud to live

The approach set out in this policy has been guided by our values of Ready, Amazing, Revolutionary, Energetic which guide us in everything we do. We are committed to delivering a sector leading repairs and maintenance service.

Following the publication of the charter for social housing residents: social housing white paper there has been a renewed focus from both our customers and the regulator around the quality of properties and the service they receive from YHN.

Our Repairs and Maintenance Policy aims to provide a customer focussed service and we will maintain the properties we manage to ensure that they are safe and fit for purpose.

This policy applies to all properties and associated communal areas and outbuildings managed by YHN on behalf of NCC with work carried out under the Single Point of Leadership arrangement. This policy also applies to those properties managed on behalf of Leazes Homes.

Legislative and regulatory context

As a registered provider of social housing, we adhere to the required standards set out by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) in the Consumer standards.

We will adhere to the standards set out in the Consumer standards and determine how we meet these.

The Consumer standards are:

  • Home Standard
  • Tenancy Standard
  • Neighbourhood and Community Standards
  • Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard – 2017

We will ensure that the repairs and maintenance service meet the standards set out in the Home Standard which states we must:

  • Provide a cost- effective repairs and maintenance service to homes and communal areas that response to the needs of, and offers choices to, tenants, and have the objective of completing repairs and improvements right first time.
  • Meet all applicable statutory requirements that provide for the health and safety of occupants in their homes.

We will comply with the significant range of legislation and regulation which supports the delivery of repairs and maintenance and the standards that govern the way in which we operate, including (but not limited to):

  • Housing Act 1985
  • Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
  • Housing Act 2004
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Gas Safety (Installation and use) Regulations 1998
  • The Secure Tenants of Local Housing Authorities (Right to Repair) Regulations 1994
  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
  • Building Regulations Act 1984
  • Defective Premises Act 1972
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including requirements for Fire Doors and Means of Escape (MOE).
  • Housing Health and Safety Rating 2006
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

We have a number of related policies and procedures which are supported and are supported by the delivery of the Repairs and Maintenance service. These include:

  • Asset management strategy
  • Health and Safety Policy and related policy statements for Asbestos, Fire safety, Gas safety, Water Hygiene, Safe Driving and Electrical Safety.
  • Complaints Policy
  • Code of conduct/Long working policy
  • Safe Living Policy
  • Safeguarding Adults & Children Policy
  • Equality and Diversity Policy

2. Who this policy is for

This policy sets out how we will deliver repairs and maintenance services to our customers and residents.

This policy will be followed by YHN members of staff involved in the reporting, monitoring and delivery of our repairs and maintenance service.

3. Our approach

We are committed to delivering an outstanding customer experience through our ‘Right first time’ approach to repairs. This means that we will continually review working practices, policies, and procedures to ensure that this is achieved for our customers whenever possible.

We aim to provide a service that is easy to use, causes the least possible disruption to our customers and demonstrates value for money. To do this we will engage with new technology and working practices to ensure that we are providing the best experience for our customers according to their needs and communication preferences. 

YHN responsibilities

Tenant, Leaseholder, and landlord responsibilities are clearly laid out within the tenancy or lease agreement, which is issued to each new customer at the point of sign up or purchase.

We will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining the structure and outside of the property and keeping it in good repair
  • Maintaining the installations for heating, water heating, sewerage and for supplying water, gas, and electricity.
  • Decorating the outside of all houses and apartments when necessary or as part of a planned maintenance programme unless customers have done the work themselves with the relevant permissions.

For Leasehold properties we will be responsible for the main structure of the building, the shared parts and any shared services to a building or estate.

We will carry out all structural, external, and communal works where appropriate and recharge a share of the cost to the Leaseholder in accordance with the terms of their lease and associated legislation.

Tenant and leaseholder responsibilities

Tenants and Leaseholders should keep their home in a good condition and report any repairs, which fall within the Landlord’s responsibility, in a timely manner in order to avoid small repairs escalating to a point which might affect their health and safety, or which might increase the cost of repair. If the need for a repair is the result of neglect or damage (accidental or otherwise) on the part of the customer, the customer, (depending on the tenancy or lease terms), is responsible for putting this right and paying for it. This includes damage caused by any member of their family, pets, or visitors.

If such a repair presents a health and safety or security risk, we will carry out the repair for a customer, but the cost of this will be recharged.

If the damage has been caused by the criminal act of another, the customer will need to report the incident to the police and provide us with a crime reference number, otherwise the customer may be recharged with the cost of the repair.  

Different types of repairs

We will allocate work as follows, dependant on the type of repair that is required so that we ensure that we provide the best possible service to our customers.

Routine – Repairs which will not seriously interfere with the comfort and convenience of the resident, for example:

  • Repairs to plasterwork
  • Repairs to doors and windows
  • Repairs to bathroom and kitchen fittings
  • New sanitary fittings (bath, toilet, and wash-hand basin)

Urgent – Repairs which seriously affect the comfort of the resident or cause potential damage to the property, for example:

  • Plumbing and drainage faults
  • Roof leaks
  • Majority of gas repairs
  • Partial loss of heating

Emergency – Repairs which, if not attended to, could cause serious damage to the building/property, or pose a high safety risk to the health of the resident, for example:

  • Gas Leaks
  • Total electrical failure
  • Total heating failure (winter)
  • Burst pipes
  • Making the property safe, after storm damage
  • Repairs to essential safety features

Priorities and target times are set out in on the YHN website and within the Tenancy Handbook.

Current timeframes are:

  • Emergency – within four hours
  • Urgent – Within one, three or seven working days
  • Routine – Within 15 working days
  • Planned Maintenance - Within 40 working days

Planned Maintenance – YHN invests in the properties they manage to maintain the quality of homes. Work is planned in line with YHN priorities and includes:

  • Replacement programmes: new bathrooms, new kitchens, new boilers, roofing programmes, external doors/windows, and fire doors.
  • Environmental programmes: new driveways, railings, turfed areas, planting.
  • Communal upgrades: in our multi storey and midrise accommodation.

Reporting repairs

Customers can report repairs by any of the following means:

Online Repairs portal ‘My Repairs Portal[DJ(1] ’

Contact Centre: (0191) 2787878

E-Mail: repairs@newcastle.gov.uk

We will aim to respond to emails within 24 hours (excluding weekends and Bank holidays)

Core Hours:

  • 8am – 6pm Monday to Thursday and 3pm on Fridays (excluding bank holidays)

Out of hours repairs

We will ensure that all emergency repairs are attended within an appropriate timescale and made safe at first visit. The service will be available 365 days of the year outside of core hours.

We define an emergency repair as a repair which, if not attended to, could cause serious damage to the building/property or, a high safety risk to the health of resident or public. We will respond to major incidents including substantial structural defects, flood, or storm damage.

Customers can call the contact centre on (0191) 2787878 to report emergency Out of Hours Repairs.

We will ensure that the service has access to skilled staff from across all trade areas to ensure that we can respond to all types of emergencies.

We will agree a mutually convenient appointment during core working hours for repairs that are reported out of hours but are not considered an emergency.

Adaptations

YHN is committed to supporting independent living, by carrying out requests for adaptations that have been requested through Occupational Therapists and Newcastle City Council policies and criteria.

Customers can request an assessment by Newcastle City Council Adult Services by contacting the Adult Social Care Direct Team on 0191 278 8377, textphone 0191 278 8312 or email scd@newcastle.gov.uk.

If it is not possible or reasonable to make adaptations, then the option of rehousing may be considered.

Access

Customers must allow us fair access to their property in order to carry out any work that is needed or to carry out any inspections required by law such as fire door inspections, Gas or Electrical safety testing. We must give the customer reasonable notice that we require access, except in the case of emergency.

We will consider legal action in cases where we are unable to gain access.

We aim to offer a range of appointments that are convenient for our customers, for example, customers with children can request a time outside of the ‘school run’ or other caring responsibilities. We will provide confirmation of the time and date of the appointment so our customers are clear on when the repair will take place.

We will make necessary adjustments to ensure that we consider any vulnerabilities or additional needs of the tenants when planning access to complete any repairs that are needed. 

Void repairs

We aim to provide good quality homes where people want to live and that our homes are fit and decent for people to live in. When a property becomes vacant, we will clear it, assess what work needs to be done, carry out all of the work, clean the property and ensure it is in a lettable condition ready for the next customer.

We will ensure that the empty property is made safe and secure, that all fixtures and fittings are secured and in proper working order and that all required Health and Safety checks are carried out with all relevant certificates provided, including.

  • Gas Safety Checks
  • Electrical Tests
  • Smoke detectors
  • EPC certificates

Rechargeable repairs

We may carry out repairs that are outside of our responsibilities but the cost of these will be recharged to the customer in the following circumstances:

  • If a repair is the result of neglect or damage (accidental or otherwise) including damage caused by any member of their family, pets, or visitors.
  • If a repair is needed following work carried out by a customer but is not to an acceptable standard or presents a health and safety or security risk.
  • If a repair has been caused by a criminal act and the customer has not supplied us with a crime reference number.

Rechargeable repairs will be assessed on a case-by-case basis considering any customer vulnerability or safeguarding issues and offering appropriate support.

The Right to Repair

Newcastle City Council Tenants have the Right to Repair which means that they can request certain qualifying repairs to be completed within certain timescales. Tenants have the right to have certain urgent repairs done quickly and at no cost to them where the repair may affect health, safety, or security and where the repair has not been completed within a specified timescale. We will give you full details of the Right to Repair Scheme including a schedule of qualifying repairs upon request.

Under the Right to Repair scheme we must pay you compensation if qualifying repairs are not done within set timescales.

The Right to Improve

We acknowledge the right of Newcastle City Council secure tenants to request permission to make improvements to their home.

We will consider each application on a case-by-case basis and permissions will be granted or declined following an inspection and assessment carried out by one of our surveyors.

If a request to improve is refused following an inspection by a surveyor, a full explanation will be will provided to the tenant.

Secure tenants may be entitled to receive compensation for these improvements when their tenancy ends.

We have procedures in place to ensure that secure tenants can invoke their right to claim compensation for improvements. 

If you are a secure tenant you can request permission to improve your home using the application for alterations form. It is available at:

If secure tenants are given permission to carry out work, they must follow any requirements laid down by YHN, and by NCC’s Planning Department and Building Control Section. They must also obtain any other statutory consents required in connection with the proposed work. YHN’s written permission should be obtained before any work is started.

If a tenant starts work without getting prior permission, they may have to return the property to its original condition if retrospective permission is not given.

Tenants will need to specify exactly what type of work they wish to carry out and should provide a plan or drawing showing their proposals, together with the name of their chosen contractor.  If they are carrying out any alterations to gas pipes or heating appliances, they must ensure that their contractor is Gas Safe registered and provide their registration number. Any electrical work must be carried out by a suitably qualified electrician registered with a Competent Persons Scheme.

A list of examples of improvement that tenants need to ask permission for is available at www.yhn.org.uk/alterations-and-adaptations/.

Leaseholders - Improvements

Leaseholders can carry out work to improve their home, but for some improvements they will need prior written permission from Newcastle City Council, in accordance with the terms of the lease. Leaseholders may also need to get planning permission and building consent for the work, together with any other relevant statutory consents.

A list of examples of improvements that leaseholders need to ask permission for is available at www.yhn.org.uk/my-leasehold-service/repairs-maintenance-and-improvements/ . This includes any improvements that may affect the rest of their building.

Leaseholders will need to complete our landlord’s permission form which is available at www.yhn.org.uk/landlords-permission-form/ or from one of the local hubs which can then be completed and returned to us at the following address:

Your Homes Newcastle

Home Ownership Team

YHN House

Benton Park Road

Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE7 7LX

Leaseholders can return the form by e-mailing it to leasehold@yhn.org.uk.

Leaseholders can ask for some repairs to be carried out by YHNs Home Repairs Service who will charge for the work. Leaseholders can request this by E-mailing the details to citybuildleaseholders@newcastle.gov.uk.

Qualifications and training

We are responsible for ensuring that staff will receive appropriate training to enable them to carry out their responsibilities as stated in this policy.

We will ensure any sub-contractors/agency carrying out any works on our behalf will be qualified to the appropriate standards. The qualifications will be recorded and checked as described above.

Gas Safety, Water Safety, Solid Fuel Safety, Asbestos Safety, Lift Safety, Electrical Safety and Fire Safety policies outline expected training requirements.

Equality and diversity

We are committed to ensuring that we do not discriminate against any of our customers. We have a detailed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy which explains our legal obligations in relation to protected characteristic groups, and how we want to provide excellent services to all our customers. This means that for all our policies and strategies we need to consider any specific issues that might be faced by protected groups.

An Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed to accompany this policy to ensure that have considered the impact of the policy on those customers who may have a protected characteristic.

Value for money

We are committed to ensuring that our customers receive the best experience possible by making use of innovative technology and ways of working to ensure that the needs of the customers are met first time whilst making the best use of our resources and delivering value for money.

Glossary

Here is a brief explanation of some of the terms used in this policy:

Term Definition
Appointable Repair A repair that prevents immediate damage to the property
Emergency Repair Any defects that put the health, safety or security of residents or anyone else at immediate risk.
EPC certificate Energy Performance Certificate summarise the energy efficiency of a building in line with European Union standards. Ratings range from A-G and the certificate will also contain tips on how to improve the homes energy efficiency rating.
Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) An Equality Impact Assessment is a systematic evidence-based tool which enables us to consider the likely impact of work on different groups of people.
Planned Repair Non-urgent and can consist of replacement rather than repair. This can be internal/external.
Repair Making good something that has been damaged or faulty either internally or externally
Tenant/Resident Any tenant or leaseholder of a property managed by YHN
Void Property A property which has no tenant
Void Repairs Work required in an empty property to ensure that it is safe and fit for purpose for the next tenant.