Frequently Asked QuestionsRepairs & Maintenance

How we look after your home

By November 25, 2020 No Comments

This page gives information about our home improvement programmes and how we look after your home.

The standards we meet

We make sure that all our homes meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard and the Regulator of Social Housing’s Home Standard.  We also work with other agencies such as local authority environmental health departments.

How do we make sure we’re meeting standards?

Every year we visit more than a thousand homes to carry out a ‘stock condition survey’.

What is a stock condition survey?

Stock condition surveys help us plan improvements to your home.

It’s really important that we know what condition our homes are in. This helps us plan how we maintain and improve them in the future.

What things are looked at in a stock condition survey?

We look at all parts of your home including:

  • Outside – roofs, walls, windows and doors, fences, paths.
  • Inside – kitchens, bathrooms, heating system, electrical wiring, insulation.
  • The common and external parts of a block of flats such as corridors, lifts, fire alarms, communal lighting, door entry systems and pathways.

What do we do with the survey information?

The information we gather tells us the condition of your home and allows us to plan for future work such as replacement kitchens, bathrooms, windows and doors. If any urgent health and safety repairs are needed, we’ll arrange for them to be done.

When will my home be surveyed?

We aim to survey one in five of our homes each year, so you can expect a survey visit about once every five years. Sometimes we’ll carry out extra surveys to look at specific things such as the kitchen. We’ll write to you two to three weeks before we’d like to visit and suggest an appointment time.

What will I need to do?

Our surveyor may need access to all the rooms in your house as well as the loft and outside areas. The surveyor will make notes, ask you about your home and take photographs of the property. The visit will normally take up to 30 minutes. Any shared communal areas will also be surveyed.

What happens next?

The year that replacements such as kitchens or windows will be completed in your home is decided provisionally, based on the survey and other information we hold about the property. Information about any replacement works due within five years of the survey date can be found in your My Home Online account. If you don’t have access to the internet you can contact us for this information.

Our external and communal repairs and decoration programme

It’s important that our homes and estates are kept in good condition. To help with this, we plan any external and communal upkeep which will be needed over the following seven years. Maintaining things in good condition also cuts the number of repairs we need to do when something breaks or fails.

How long will the main external parts of a home last?

We assume that the main external parts of homes have the following lifespans:

  • Building structure – 60 years
  • Pitched roof covering – 60 years
  • Flat roof covering – 20 years
  • Windows and doors – 40 years

Delivering our programme

If your home is in the programme for the coming financial year we will write to tell you. We include a questionnaire that gives you the chance to tell us about any problems with your home.

We will ALWAYS check for asbestos before any work is carried out.

After we agree the programme of works, the process is then managed by the contractor we employ. The contractor will:

  • Agree an appointment with you
  • Consult with you over access, choices and options
  • Erect scaffold, if it is needed
  • Carry out the works within an agreed number of working days
  • Send a supervisor to inspect the completed works

The process will be a little more involved if we have to replace things such as roofs, doors or windows, or communal flooring in blocks of flats.

We will also inspect all completed work ourselves and carry out a customer satisfaction survey.

How can I influence improvements in my Neighbourhood?

Our Neighbourhood Housing Managers work with residents to create Neighbourhood Improvement Plans for the blocks of flats and estates they manage. This could include measures to improve safety and security improvement and refuse storage; tackling anti-social behaviour like fly tipping; or some additional hard or soft landscaping to improve the look and feel of the area.

If you have an idea for an improvement where you live, please complete our contact form.

Leaseholders

We consult with leaseholders over proposed external and communal repairs and decoration. They are charged a fair proportion of the cost of the works. We do not charge leaseholders for improvements carried out under the neighbourhood planning process.

Leaseholder’s and Shared Ownership residents only - Proposals for planned maintenance contract

Please see below links to the following documents:

  • The summary of proposals received and how the chosen contractor compares to other proposals received in respect of both cost and perceived quality.
  • Section 20 guidance notes to provide leaseholders and shared owners with some information to be read alongside the proposal.
  • The planned works specification and preventative maintainance (cyclical repair and decoration) brief.  These are intended to be overarching documents and are to encompass any works that may be carried out under the terms of this contract and are not property specific. You will be contacted when your property falls within the programme and given a likely indication as to the works that are to be carried out and the indicative cost of the works.

Although the brief will generally apply to leaseholder properties and blocks, leaseholders and shared owners should check their leases for their exact maintenance obligations as these can vary from lease to lease.

Repairs and maintenance

Unless a home has been identified for work during a stock condition survey, we assume it is fit for purpose and that residents will report any problems to our repairs service. In exceptional circumstances, our repairs contractors may recommend a replacement , but this will only be when it is beyond economic repair. Temporary repairs would then be carried out until the replacement is undertaken as part of the planned programme.

Meeting diverse needs

Wherever possible we introduce colour schemes with visual contrast in communal areas to meet the needs of the partially sighted. When improving block access and security, we follow guidance on such things as step-free approaches, handrails, door widths, and positioning of door entry panels.

Our commitments

We will:

  • Check the condition of our homes every five years
  • Replace components that are old and in poor condition
  • Maintain components that are not due for replacement
  • Consult with residents on an individual basis
  • Maintain high levels of resident satisfaction with planned programmes
  • Accommodate special needs
  • Carry out an estate improvement programme

Kitchen and bathroom renewal

It’s important to us that your home has modern facilities and is maintained in good condition. This includes the kitchen and bathroom. Each year we replace hundreds of kitchens and bathrooms as part of our programme to improve homes. The information below tells you how we decide when it’s time for a bathroom or kitchen to be replaced.

How old does a kitchen or bathroom need to be before it will be replaced?

You can find out when your kitchen and bathroom is due for renewal on MyHomeOnline.

We assess the condition of your kitchen and bathroom through stock condition surveys every five years.

However, we assume that:

  • kitchens have a life of 20 years
  • bathrooms will need replacing after 30 years

Although these lifespans are shorter than set out in the Government’s Decent Homes Standard, we fit replacements if items are considered to be both old and in poor condition. We always assume that your kitchen or bathroom is fit for purpose unless we receive a referral from one of our repair contractors or if we identify any issues during a stock condition survey.

In exceptional circumstances, our repairs contractors may recommend that we replace a kitchen or bathroom because it is in poor condition, but this will only be when the kitchen or bathroom is beyond economic repair. This means that the cost of repairing would almost be the same as giving you a new one, or that the condition means that it can’t be made usable. The kitchen or bathroom would be repaired temporarily until it can be replaced as part of the next programme of work.

The decision to replace kitchens and bathrooms is made by Town & Country and so requests from tenants or comments from contractors do not guarantee a replacement.

What will happen when your kitchen or bathroom is due for renewal?

We will send you an email (or letter if we don’t hold an email address for you) telling you when the work is due to start and the name of the contractor that will be carrying it out.

The contractor will then contact you and:

  • Arrange to survey your home
  • Agree an installation date
  • Consult with you about the design, choices and options. (Please note that Kitchen design is based on a minimum storage volume relative to the property size. Consequently, a new kitchen may not have the same storage capacity at the one it will replace.)
  • Carry out the installation, which may take up to 10 working days

A supervisor will inspect the work on completion.

A kitchen or bathroom installation will usually include an upgrade of the electrical wiring system to your whole home. This commonly includes fitting a new consumer unit (fuse board) and additional power sockets.

We will always check for asbestos before any work is carried out.

We will inspect all new kitchens and bathrooms and conduct a customer satisfaction survey.

Support if you have health or other needs

We recognise that the installation of a kitchen and bathroom can create upheaval and cause anxiety. In most circumstances we expect residents to assist us to complete the works for example by clearing rooms and allowing access to contractors. However, if you have a health or other reason that makes this difficult for you please let us know and we can discuss how we can help you.

Keeping the kitchen and bathroom maintained to a workable standard

You should always report any repair issues to our repairs contractor, in the usual ways.

To help tell us about the condition of your kitchen or bathroom, you can:

  • Take photographs of the area, including key parts such as sinks, baths, doors, worktops, floor and walls. Make sure you photograph any problem areas.
  • Write a description of what is wrong with your kitchen or bathroom.

You can send these to us online via MyHomeOnline, our customer portal or by email.

Our contractor will attend and carry out a repair. Please note that we’ll always aim to repair  kitchens and bathrooms, or if necessary, replace individual part before a full replacement is considered.

Can I replace my kitchen or bathroom myself if it is not going to be renewed?

Yes, you can replace your kitchen / bathroom yourself. You will need our approval in advance. Please note that if you do renew your kitchen or bathroom you will then be liable for any repairs to it. We will not carry out repairs to items such as baths or showers you have fitted.

How can I get my home adapted for my needs?

We want to help you live comfortably in your home and our adaptations service can help if your circumstances change. There are two categories of adaptation:

Minor adaptations

Include things such as:

  • grabrails
  • handrails
  • lever taps
  • small ramps

Please note we do not provide mobile aids such as bath boards and toilet support frames.

Usually you will need to get a letter from your doctor, hospital or, occupational therapist giving details of the work you need done. Once a request is accepted, our contractor will carry out the work and we will pay for it. We aim to complete the work within 20 working days, or sooner if it is urgent.

Major adaptations

Include things such as:

  • level access showers
  • additional toilet facilities
  • lifts and access improvements

You will need to contact Social Services who will assess your needs and then contact us. Our surveyor will then visit you with the occupational therapist to consider the proposals. Plans will be drawn up, building regulations approval sought (if necessary) and the works sent for pricing. The work is usually funded through a Disabled Facilities Grant (subject to means testing). Your local council will look at your income and savings and assess how much, if anything, you will have to pay. You can get a form from your local council. If you do have to make a payment, Social Services may be able to help. Once the funding is agreed, works will be carried out by our contractor.

What happens when the work is carried out?

Unfortunately disruption is unavoidable, but the completed works will improve your home’s accessibility

Work outside your home is usually quicker and less disruptive than inside. Before works start you should clear away all personal belongings that could be damaged

Please be aware that work inside your home may require temporary loss of the use of your toilet, bath, etc. Electricity and water supplies may have to be turned off. There may be dust and fumes. Work may take up to 2 weeks but it will be supervised throughout.

If you arrange for work to be carried out yourself you must get permission from us first. You can request permission through our Permission Form.

Damage caused by residents

Any repairs or replacements which result from damage caused by residents will be recharged. Damage includes both accidental and intentional damage, and damage through neglect – for example where units aren’t cleaned or used properly.

Our Commitments

We will:

  • Check the condition of all kitchens and bathrooms every five years
  • Maintain any that do not need replacing
  • Replace any that are old and in poor condition. In doing this we will:
  • Consult with you individually
  • Maintain high levels of resident satisfaction
  • Accommodate any adaptations you may need

Heating and insulation programmes

We want all our homes to have reliable, energy efficient heating and hot water systems. We also help residents to save energy and money by installing cavity wall and loft insulation. To achieve this, we have an annual programme of improvements and upgrades.

How long will boilers and heaters last before they need replacing?

We assume that central heating boilers have a life of 15 years, and electric heating will need replacing after 30 years. This is in accordance with the Government’s Decent Homes Standard. In practice, modern boilers rarely last this long and it is often necessary to replace newer boilers that have failed.

When we replace boilers we upgrade system controls, insulate tanks and pipes and fit room thermostats where they are not already fitted.

The majority of our electrically heated  homes  are fitted with storage heaters. In the past, these have been replaced as they failed. We are now taking a planned approach to replacements and a number of our housing schemes have already benefitted from modern electric heating systems.

Assessing the condition of your heating system

Heating systems are assessed by the contractor that maintains them. This helps us to plan replacement programmes. Age and condition are not the only criteria we use. Homes in areas where there is no mains gas rely on more expensive fuel types, mostly electricity with some oil and solid fuel. Updating these types of heating system is a priority. We also focus on homes with a ‘SAP’ rating under 55, both in terms of heating and insulation levels. The SAP system provides a simple measure of the energy efficiency of your home. SAP ratings are expressed on a scale of 1 to 100 – the higher the number, the better the rating.