Association drops down quality standard league

Berwickshire Housing Association has 1,781 homes in the county including family homes and sheltered housing complexes such as Gowanlea in Coldstream.
Berwickshire Housing Association has 1,781 homes in the county including family homes and sheltered housing complexes such as Gowanlea in Coldstream.

After scoring 100% for the quality standards of its homes in 2015, this year Berwickshire Housing Association has fallen back to 81.1%.

That is well below the Scottish average of 92.8% for social housing homes meeting Scottish housing quality standards.

With the association’s quality standard rating standing at 11% below average, one critic points out: “All landlords face the same issues as Berwickshire, but nearly all have done a lot better.”

Explaining its change in fortunes over that 12-month period, a spokesperson for the association told the Berwickshire: “Maintaining all our homes to the Scottish housing quality standard is a moving target. What passed last year, might fail this year because of age or condition.

“Our annual planning ensures that our homes will always be up to the standard unless they are exempt or that we can’t get access to them to carry out the work to bring them up to the standard, known as abeyances.

“The Scottish housing regulator asked us to include exemptions and abeyances in the figures we stated on March 31, 2015. This year, the regulator has asked to show these separately, hence the change.

“This figure is reported on the stock condition on March 31 of each year.

“During March 2016, we identified two kitchens that failed the standard. These were reported as failures on March 31 but have already been replaced.

“We currently have abeyances on 22 of our homes (1%) and exemptions on 319 (17.8%).

“Examples of exemptions are heating systems and/or insulation not meeting the standard for house construction and electric or solid fuel heating systems.

“Since March 31, 2015, when we were awarded the exemptions, the energy performance certificates system has been changed to now allow certain types of heating systems, that would have failed at March 31, 2015, to now meet the standard.

“The association is working to ensure as many of its homes meet the energy efficiency standard of social housing (EESSH) by March 31, 2020.”

Fails included being unable to install a minimum of six sockets in a kitchen due to lack of space or to install a minimum of one cubic metre of kitchen storage, again due to lack of space.

Berwickshire tenants were 88.6% satisfied with the overall performance, compared to the Scottish average of 89%.

They reported that the landlord took an average of 5.4 hours to complete emergency repairs, compared to the Scottish average of 5.1 hours, but non-emergency repairs on the association’s houses took six days compared to the Scottish average of 7.5 days.