According to a recent article published by Inside Housing, a council has been found in breach of the Regulator of Social Housing’s Home Standard, partly for failing to carry out urgent fire safety work on a 17-storey tower block.
Runnymede Council was found to have caused a risk of “serious detriment” to its tenants because of a breach over fire and electrical safety, the regulator said.
In a notice, published today, the regulator said that the council had failed to complete “urgent or high priority remedial action arising from fire risk assessments” at two properties: a 17-storey tower block and a sheltered housing scheme.
The tower block is Surrey Towers in Addlestone, Surrey, a council spokesperson confirmed to Inside Housing. As part of plans to tackle the issues, the council is considering a refurbishment of the building, but no further details are available at this stage.
The regulator said the fire safety remedial work needed at the block was identified in two successive fire risk assessments last year. At the sheltered housing property, the action was identified in a fire risk assessment done in 2017.
On the electrical breaches, the regulator said that the council had no evidence of when testing was last carried out for 162 properties. In addition, according to the records, the electrics in 794 properties were not tested in the past 10 years.
The regulator said it had concluded that Runnymede Council did not have an “effective system in place to allow it to meet its statutory health and safety responsibilities in fire and electrical safety”.
It also found that the council could not provide evidence of how many of its properties meet the Decent Homes Standard. “It is evident that inadequate record-keeping has extended to the condition of its stock,” the regulator said.
The regulator said it will work with the council to address the issues but will consider if any further action is needed over the breach.
In other judgement’s today, Onward, one of the largest housing providers in the North West, had its governance rating upgraded from G2 to G1.
The 36,000-home landlord was handed a non-compliant G3 rating in July 2016 but returned to a compliant G2 in January last year.
In the latest judgement, the regulator said Onward has “further developed board effectiveness and successfully implemented changes to its control framework”, while its governance arrangements had been “simplified”.
Bronwen Rapley, chief executive at Onward, called the upgrade a “significant achievement”.
But added: “We won’t be resting on our laurels. We are actively looking for the partnerships and opportunities which will both help us to build more homes and to make a positive difference in our communities.”
The group is looking to develop 1,600 new homes by 2023. Onward also retained its financial viability rating of V1.
Other judgements saw Abbeyfield, a provider of supported sheltered housing and residential care homes for older people, have its G2 for governance and V2 for viability grades confirmed.
Lincolnshire Housing Partnership (LHP) had a G2/V2 rating confirmed following a previous interim judgement.
The regulator concluded that while LHP complied with its governance and financial viability standards, it felt the organisation did need to improve some aspects of its governance arrangements, specifically in relation to quality of data in its internal documents and regulatory returns and stress-testing.
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References: Inside Housing