Agenda item

Void Refurbishment Process Information Report


The Chairman introduced Gary Penticost, Director of Operational Assets, and Liam Bentley, Operations Manager for FM Repairs, Housing Maintenance and Voids, to provide Members with details on the void refurbishment process and its key outputs to ensure residents were provided a safe, warm, and dry environment from commencement of their tenancies. Members’ attention was drawn to Appendix A to the report where, since the production of the report in front of the Committee, there had been some updates on the Voids Service’s position. It was expected that, throughout the 2022/23 financial year, the service would have received 715 voids and completed 694. This represented an uptick in properties returned since 2019.


Officers confirmed that the service receives very minimal refusals and only minor issues which can be rectified easily and quickly. The Committee were informed that there were occurrences where properties were returned back into the hands of the Council in a very poor state, as evidenced in the report, which could delay the void refurbishment process, however officers were adept at bringing these voids back into good condition in a timely manner for prospective new Council tenants; this minimised the time whereby a Council property was vacant. The Committee noted that the condition that the property is in when returned by a tenant was a primary factor in determining how long the property would be empty for before being ready for a new tenant; the objective was to minimise the time that each property was empty.


The Committee commended the work of officers in what was a critical service provided by the Council. Members queried whether, given the current climate,  long term tenants could expect bathroom and kitchen replacements as anticipated. It was confirmed that as an industry standard, bathrooms were replaced every 30 years and kitchens were replaced every 20 years; it was noted that there was a small backlog due to resources being focussed into fire safety and the Building Safety Strategy, however officers confirmed that when a property was returned as a void, it was linked to the Decent Homes Programme ensuring the appropriate refurbishment works were undertaken to make sure the property was up to the required standard. The Committee also noted that if kitchens and bathrooms that had reached their allotted replacement time were in good working order and serviceable, that the service would consider postponing their replacement due to it not being necessary or a priority.


Members queried whether there was a penalty for contractors who did not carry out works to an agreed standard and timeframe. Officers confirmed that they regularly met with contractors and that they were able to quickly remove work from any one contractor if needed, which was considered an indirect form of penalisation. Regarding any sort of financial penalty for sub standard work from contractors, it was confirmed that the Council did not do this but was considering the possibility as a number of other local authorities did penalise. It was reiterated that the primary target was the fast and comprehensive turnaround of void properties to a good working standard.


The Committee were encouraged by the officers’ report that the voids refurbishment service was in good working order and an asset to the Council, and Borough as a whole. Members thanked the officers for their presentation.


RESOLVED: That the Property, Highways and Transport Select Committee noted the contents of the report.





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