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Council in breach of Home Standard for fire and electrical safety, regulator finds

Runnymede Borough Council has breached the Home Standard for fire and electrical safety, the Regulator for Social Housing has said.

In a regulatory notice it said there was “potential for serious detriment to Runnymede BC tenants”.

The regulator will work with the council on remedies but warned it might take further action.

Runnymede failed to meet statutory health and safety requirements, including failure to complete urgent or high priority remedial actions arising from fire risk assessments at a 17-storey tower block and a sheltered housing scheme.

The council has “no reliable means of evidencing, across its homes, the completion of remedial actions arising from fire risk assessments”, it found.

There was also no evidence of completion of electrical installation condition reports or of when testing was last carried out for 162 properties, while for a further 794 properties records showed tests were completed more than 10 years ago.

The regulator noted: “Runnymede BC's record keeping, monitoring, and evidencing of electrical testing work across its homes has historically been very poor…it is evident that inadequate record keeping has extended to the condition of its stock.”

Runnymede was also unable to evidence what proportion of its homes met the Decent Homes Standard.

Chris Stratford, interim director of housing, said in a message to tenants that the issued identified were serious, “but please be reassured we have them in hand and have been working towards ensuring all your homes are properly certified and comply fully with the Homes Standard”.

Jacqui Gracey, chair of the council’s housing committee admitted there had “clearly been failings over a number of years”, which the council would now rectify.

She added: “I have been working with senior management to ensure systems and resources are sufficient to enable us to provide a housing service that residents deserve and should rightly expect. I have been clear that we can never allow our work to fall into the state which has brought us here.”

The Association of Retained Council Housing, which represents councils that still directly own their stock, said the findings showed the need for councils to have good data on the condition of their homes.

Chief executive John Bibby said: “Stock retained councils can expect much more proactive regulation in the future as a result of proposals in the Social Housing Green Paper.”

Mark Smulian

Fraser Public Sector 600

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