New standard to stop poor repairs to Northampton council houses

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A better standard for social housing repairs is to be introduced in Northampton from 2015 to help combat tenant horror stories of homes ‘destroyed’ by maintenance.

From January 5, 2015, the current borough council managed stock of social housing will transfer over to an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) that will maintain the properties.

All Northampton’s social homes are currently maintained to the Government-set Decent Homes standard, which states that homes should be in a ‘reasonable’ state of repair and ‘reasonably modern’.

Last month however, 56 tenants in Northampton complained that ‘upgrades’ to their property by contractors had actually left them in a worse state than before.

Speaking to the St James Residents’ Association last week, Jim Mitchell, of consultancy firm, Peers, which is overseeing the ALMO implementation, said a new Northampton standard would help to stop poor repair work.

He said: “The ALMO promises to improve management quality, especially when it comes to ‘decent’ homes.

“People’s houses have been left virtually destroyed rather than improved so we are creating our own standard.”

While the borough council will continue to own all its housing stock from 2015, the ALMO will be responsible for managing premises, dealing with complaints, collecting rents and for contracting repairs among its remit.

Work is now beginning to set up a management board, which will include five housing tenants, five borough councillors, four independents and two council staff.

It will be up to the board to decide what the ‘Northampton standard’ entails, though Mr Mitchell said the criteria could be that repairs are made ‘good’ as opposed to the current ‘reasonable’ standard.

He added that early plans included giving tenants who make applications for repairs a reference number so they can keep track of where they are on the waiting list.