Inside Housing – News – Two councils breach Home Standard over hundreds of overdue safety checks

Inside Housing – News – Two councils breach Home Standard over hundreds of overdue safety checks

The Social Housing Regulatory Agency (RSH) has found that two county councils breached the Home Standard on hundreds of overdue health and safety checks.

Stowmarket is in Mid Suffolk (Image: Alamy)

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The social housing regulator has found two district councils to have breached the Home Standard in hundreds of overdue health and safety checks #UKhousing

More than 150 Babergh Borough Council homes did not have a current electrical status report, while more than 250 Mid Suffolk Borough Council homes did not. There, too, more than 100 gas safety inspections were overdue.

As a result of the breaches, the regulator found that tenants had “the potential for serious harm.”

Although Babegh and Mid Suffolk are two separate communities, they operate from the same workforce.

Both councils began a program of work on homes last summer, which found problems related to compliance with health and safety codes.

Babergh Borough Council made its own way to the regulator in November 2022.

The council reported that more than 150 of its homes lacked an up-to-date electrical status report.

Babergh also reported that over 70% of asbestos surveys were overdue for re-inspection.

More than 150 properties had not received a gas safety check within the statutory period.

“The regulator considered the case a potential breach of Part 1.2 of the Home Standard and concluded that Babergh DC did not have an effective system in place to enable it to demonstrate its statutory responsibilities for health and safety in a number of areas, that it was compliant in those areas,” the RSH regulatory notice said.

Babergh DC has shown the regulator that they now understand what they have to do.

“However, taking into account the severity of the issues, the length of time tenants have been at risk and the number of tenants potentially affected, the regulator has concluded that Babergh DC has breached the Home Standard and that there is a serious risk there was damage to tenants during this period,” it concluded.

The council has started to put in place an urgent program to fix the bugs, so the regulator “will not take any legal action at this point in the knowledge that the breach of standard will be fixed”.

Mid Suffolk Borough Council was also found to have breached Part 1.2 of the Home Standard after it turned to the regulator itself in November.

More than 250 of the council’s homes did not have a current electrical condition report, while there were no valid municipal asbestos surveys for all of its municipal blocks.

“Although there is a relatively small number of overdue new asbestos inspections, this accounts for more than half of the total required,” the statement said.

More than 100 of the council’s homes had not received a gas safety inspection within the timeframe required by law.

Mid Suffolk has also begun putting in place an urgent program to correct the problems identified.

Both councils said they are conducting additional inspections, revising existing processes and gathering more robust data on health and safety compliance to “provide tenants with complete peace of mind”.

Tenants in all houses that require an additional inspection have already been contacted.

Suzie Morley, leader of Mid Suffolk Borough Council, said: “Our tenants are our priority and we would like to reassure them that any overdue inspections will be completed within a matter of weeks. We take this very seriously.

“Once we became aware of these issues, we took immediate action to put things right and are now working as quickly as possible to ensure that each and every community property is fully compliant with regulatory standards.”

John Ward, leader of Babergh Borough Council, said: “It is disappointing to find ourselves in this position but we are doing everything we can to address these issues as quickly as possible.

“As a responsible landlord, we reached out to the regulator at an early stage for advice and will be taking all steps possible to ensure we are providing the best possible service to tenants going forward.”

Councils will be writing to all tenants this week to update them on the situation.

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