Social housing charter aims to improve standards in Chorley

Chorley Council is to develop a social housing charter (image: Google Streetview)
Chorley Council is to develop a social housing charter (image: Google Streetview)
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Not-for-profit landlords in Chorley are to be asked to sign up to a charter designed to improve the standard of social housing in the borough.

The document, which will be drawn up by Chorley Council in conjunction with registered housing providers, will enable the quality of homes to be “monitored and managed closely”, a meeting of the authority’s cabinet was told.

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The basis for the agreement will be a 31-point plan created by a task group of councillors which investigated social housing standards by speaking both to tenants and providers over the course of a year.

Under the proposed charter, providers will have to respond fully to complaints within seven working days or explain why they have failed to do so, while emergency repairs will have to be completed within two working days and non-emergency jobs within five – and guaranteed for a year.

Task group chair Cllr Matthew Lynch said that many of the problems identified during the investigation chimed with what councillors already knew.

“The comments we had from residents were absolutely in line with what we had been picking up on the doorstep in recent years – concerns over repairs, investment and nuisance neighbours.

“With the council’s aspirations to become a housing provider ourselves, we need to lead by example and other providers need to follow suit. Recent television programmes have shown that the quality of social housing is a big issue at the moment.

“The recommendations we made will tackle all the problems raised, but will require investment from the landlords – and it is encouraging to see that one of them has already set up its own group to look into the issues we identified,” Cllr Lynch said.

Other recommendations for the charter include ensuring social properties are “free of hazards…in a reasonable state of repair and have reasonably modern facilities and services, such as kitchens, bathrooms, efficient heating, effective insulation and damp proofing”. Smoke alarms should also be fitted on every storey and carbon monoxide alarms in every room with gas or solid fuel-burning appliances, the report says.

Cabinet members accepted 29 of the task group’s suggestions, with the exception of a call to create a residents’ association for social housing tenants in the borough and a forum for registered providers and local councillors.

Those two recommendations have instead been replaced with the creation of a joint working group with social landlords, through which the final charter will be developed.

“We are just doing [what was proposed] in a slightly different way,” chief executive Gary Hall said.

As part of the task group’s work, a survey was undertaken of 4,000 social housing tenants in Chorley. Out of 731 respondents, three quarters said that they were satisfied with repairs and maintenance carried out at their properties, while 72 percent were happy with the time it took to resolve issues.

Papers presented to the meeting noted that the council has no power to enforce change, but the proposals will also see the authority lobbying government for greater regulation of social housing providers.

It is expected that the charter will be finalised by March 2020.