Council breaches Home Standard for fire, asbestos and electrical safety

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Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council (Gateshead MBC) has breached the Home Standard and as a consequence, has put its tenants under risk of serious harm for a prolonged period of time. The regulator posted the regulatory finding just last week after it received information that in conjunction with its ALMO, The Gateshead Housing Company (TGHC), they had failed to meet statutory health and safety requirements across fire safety, asbestos and electrical safety. The Regulator noted that it was aware that Gateshead MBC had identified the issues in mid-2018 and had since been working to correct the issues, however due to the nature and severity of the issues in question the Regulator judged the organisation as having breached the Home Standard.

Before mid-2018, Gateshead MBC did not have a system in place to conduct fire risk assessments to any of its stock, despite having a statutory duty to regularly assess the risk of fire in all of the buildings they held maintenance responsibility for. In addition, the regulator learned that asbestos surveys had not been carried out in many of their communal areas, and a large proportion of their properties did not have an EICR certificate in place. Since identifying the issues, Gateshead MBC has developed and implemented a suitable catch up programme to ensure that the appropriate fire risk assessments, asbestos surveys and electrical safety checks are undertaken, as well as the appropriate follow up works.

Councils are only required to meet the RSHs consumer standards and do not receive regulatory judgements. If the Regulator finds a serious detriment in relation to any of the consumer standards then they will issue a regulatory notice to a local authority, as is the case for Gateshead MBC, and also Arun District Council, who were as well found to have breached the Home Standard in August last year. We believe it may be the case that many councils are not aware of the fact that they are required to meet the consumer standards, albeit they’re not subject to regulatory judgements or the economic standards. Furthermore, we believe councils nationwide are grappling with similar compliance weaknesses and challenges, which relates to both their domestic and commercial stock, and we would encourage councils to be more open and transparent about sharing this information so the local authority sector can learn and improve.

Pennington Choices is a trusted housing consultancy, specialising in statutory property compliance. We have worked for housing associations, local authorities, ALMOs and contractor businesses for 19 years, and our statutory property compliance services are tailored to meet the needs of your organisation. We ensure you are clear about your landlord health and safety, and regulatory, obligations and that you understand your organisation’s compliance position in respect of legislation, regulation, codes of practice and best practice. Furthermore, if you have compliance weaknesses, we provide practical and workable solutions for you to achieve robust assurance. Contact us now to find out more.

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