Damp and mould in social housing can have a huge impact on the health and welfare of the tenants who are affected, particularly after prolonged exposure.
In October 2021, the Housing Ombudsman published a report that stated that landlords should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to damp and mould. Since then, the Regulator of Social Housing has published initial findings into its review which states that: “While the picture is incomplete, our best estimate is that less than 0.2% of social homes have the most serious damp and mould problems, 1-2% have serious damp and mould problems, and a further 3-4% have notable damp and mould.”
As one of the largest property management organisations in the North East, Your Homes Newcastle has been swift to act and is taking a proactive approach to ensure that tenants are able to report any concerns over dampness, condensation or mould growth. It has put a dedicated team in place to offer advice and support to tenants and arrange a full inspection of homes by qualified surveyors, when necessary.
Providing additional resilience to create better outcome for tenants
Despite diligent work from its internal team, it became clear that Your Homes Newcastle needed to bring in additional support, as they were receiving almost 100 calls from tenants each week. They wanted to ensure that all tenants received a prompt response and that home assessments were being scheduled and delivered in good time.
We committed a team to help alleviate the growing backlog of tenant calls within three months. We assisted by scheduling appointments for our own surveyors by speaking directly to tenants and quickly mobilised a surveying team, with four surveyors to provide the additional capacity needed. Our surveyors are currently undertaking around 20-25 surveys each per week. It is particularly important that they use a consistent approach to reporting their findings and recommendations, in line with government guidance and client requirements, so that all tenants’ concerns are treated equally and fairly.
Delivering quick solutions through technology
One problem that we needed to quicky rectify, to speed up the booking process, was the disconnect between our surveyors and the Your Homes Newcastle online system. We recommended changing the control process so the booking system could be coordinated with our surveyors’ calendars. This streamlined the process and ensured there were no delays in scheduling appointments. We hope to build on this solution by developing a new data collection app which will streamline the process further.
Within the first full month we have inspected and delivered reports on over 100 damp and/or mould affected homes, our second full month has almost doubled that figure. Our flexible approach and collaboration with Your Homes Newcastle have allowed us to stay on target throughout the project. As the proactive stage of the project comes to an end, and all initial concerns have been dealt with, we will take a more reactive approach to dealing with tenants’ concerns as and when they are raised. As we move forward, we will continue to work collaboratively together to ensure the health of tenants remains our key priority.