25 May 23

Regulator flags missed fire, electrical and asbestos checks

The largest council housing landlord in the country has breached regulatory standards by failing to maintain homes to a required standard.

The Regulator of Social Housing today said that Birmingham City Council, which manages 60,000 homes, has breached its Homes Standard and its Tenant Inolvement and Empowerment Standard.

It said: “Through our investigation we identified Birmingham City Council had not completed fire, electrical and asbestos checks and inspections for every property that needed one and that a significant proportion of Birmingham City Council properties do not meet the Decent Homes Standard (DHS).”

The regulatory notice issued today said Birmingham has 1,000 fire risk assessments overdue, along with 15,000 domestic electrical inspections, and 17,000 asbestos surveyors. It said 39% of Birmingham’s properties do not comply with the Decent Homes Standard.

RSH also found fault with the local authority’s complaints handling, with more than 1,000 complaints overdue.

It said: “In relation to Birmingham City Council’s engagement with tenants, external reviews carried out in 2021 and 2022 found there was a lack of proactive, frequent and effective communication with tenants.

“The reviews also found that tenants’ needs were not understood, and they did not feel valued.”  The regulator said it will work with Birmingham CC as it seeks to remedy the standards breach.

Birmingham City Council has been approached for comment.

The notice was issued as RSH prepares to take on new powers from next year under a beefed up consumer regulation regime.

RSH has said it will inspect every large social landlord, including local authorities, against new standards on a rolling four-year basis.

The Social Housing Regulation Bill increases the consumer role of the RSH, adding objectives of safety, transparency and energy efficiency to its formal objectives.

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