Work set to be carried out to address below standard issues on hundreds of homes in two council areas

Hundreds of homes covered by Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have below standard electrical safety reports, while gas inspections are also overdue on nearly 100 and asbestos reinspection surveys are not up-to-date on over 30 homes.

Now the authorities are planning to take action to improve their building services – which maintain their council housing – and urgently resolve the issues.

The councils began a programme of work to improve the service last summer and in-depth assessments arising from this work subsequently identified issues around health and safety compliance.

Of their 6,788 homes, 344 do not currently have up-to-date electrical safety reports. Gas inspections are also overdue on 92 properties and asbestos reinspection surveys are not up-to-date on 33 homes.

Urgent work to address the issues is already underway – including additional inspections, an overhaul of existing processes, and obtaining more robust data around health and safety compliance to provide tenants with complete reassurance.

The councils voluntarily referred themselves to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) as soon as they became aware of the issues and contacted all its tenants.

The RSH has now confirmed the councils’ findings and issued a Regulatory Notice, meaning it will monitor the councils and meet regularly until it is assured sustainable, long-term improvements are embedded.

The regulator has confirmed it does not intend to take statutory action against the councils because an urgent programme of work is already in place to rectify the problems.

The councils are confident their action plan will promptly result in full compliance with the required standards but welcome the support of the regulator in ensuring that robust procedures and practices are embedded.

Tenants at every home where an additional inspection is required have already been contacted.

Suzie Morley, Mid Suffolk District Council leader, said: “Our tenants are our priority, and we want to reassure them any overdue checks will be carried out in a matter of weeks. We are treating this extremely seriously. As soon as we became aware of these issues, we put immediate steps in place to put things right and are now working as quickly as possible to ensure each and every council property is fully compliant with regulatory standards.”

John Ward, Babergh District Council leader, said: “It is disappointing to find ourselves in this position, but we are doing everything we can to address these issues as quickly as we can. As a responsible landlord, we referred ourselves to the regulator at the earliest stage to seek guidance and will be taking every possible step to ensure we are providing the best possible service to tenants in the future.”

The councils will be writing to all tenants this week to keep them updated about the situation.

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