Tenants’ watchdog panel publishes new report on grounds maintenance

Release Date: 31-Oct-2012
A new panel of tenants and residents set up to scrutinise housing services in Kirklees has just finished its second review, which looked at issues relating to grounds maintenance in empty council homes.

The panel, which is run by the Kirklees Federation of Tenant and Resident Associations (KFTRA), with support from the council’s Scrutiny team, is part of a national drive to make sure landlords continue to provide quality services to their customers, now that government inspections have been abolished.

As well as looking at surveys of new tenants and talking to staff from Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH), which manages council homes, panel members also visited a number of properties to gather information for the review.

In their report, the panel members recognised the challenge facing KNH and partner organisations in this type of work but highlighted a number of areas of good practice.

These included inspections carried out by housing officers when tenants give notice on their homes; specialist training for caretakers; work being done to track down fly tippers; and a published ‘quality guarantee’ of service standards that tenants can expect. They also acknowledged the hard work being carried out by each of KNH’s neighbourhood housing teams.

But they also made a number of recommendations to further improve standards, which KNH have agreed to. These include:

• improving the form used to record the work required at empty properties to make it clearer
• developing a more detailed and comprehensive ‘lettable’ standard for properties so that new tenants know exactly what they should expect
• improving communications between all the services involved in getting empty homes ready for new tenants
• improving how complaints are recorded so that any trends can be analysed more easily

Speaking on behalf of the panel, Chair June Cade said: “All members of the panel have enjoyed the experience of working on this report, many of whom have already expressed an interest in being involved in future scrutiny reviews”

“We are pleased that KNH has responded to our recommendations in such a positive manner and although we are disappointed that not all of our suggestions can be actioned we recognise the reasons why and welcome the willingness of KNH to work with panel members on further improving elements of the service.”

Simon Rogers, Chief Executive of KNH, said: “The tenant scrutiny process is making an invaluable contribution to our objective of providing quality services to customers.

“Reviewing services with a much stronger tenant perspective ensures that any changes made are ones that tenants want and will value. We are working with the panel to ensure that we act on their recommendations so that their personal hard work and commitment is reflected in changes that make a real difference to the lives of tenants”

To find out more or to get involved, please contact KFTRA on 01484 223466