Working in the housing sector has many rewards, but also many challenges. An issue that has always been key for those working in the sector is health and safety and how imperative it is to “get this right” for tenants. Following the tragedy that took place at the Grenfell Tower in 2017, this couldn’t be more imperative.
The housing sector knows the importance of adequate provisions being place and many in the sector are thinking about some of the ways in which housing providers can move forward with ensuring that they protect their tenants and their organisations. Some examples are set out below:
- Housing providers are looking at how they can put long term investment in health and safety improvements across their stock as a preventative method rather than operating on a “reactive” basis.
- Housing providers are also ensuring that, when entering into any type of lease arrangements there are clear provisions to recover contributions towards the cost of health and safety changes in the future. In particular organisations are thinking about whether it is appropriate to, for example, oblige leaseholders to be responsible for gas checks and make other health and safety orientated changes to the property.
- Some housing providers are undertaking reviews of their long leases to ensure that it is clear who has the ultimate responsibility for health and safety (for example checking responsibility for the upkeep of fire doors);
- Housing providers are also taking a “deeper” look into their organisations and thinking about their governance and policies to ensure that these sufficiently deal with health and safety issues. This includes undertaking reviews of current policies to ensure that they are up to date and protect both the organisation and the tenant.
- Of course, stress testing is essential and housing providers are making sure that they not only undertake stress testing but that checks and balances are in place and recorded.
- Health and safety is also imperative for housing provider’s staff and many organisations and looking at how they manage health and safety throughout their entire business.
- Of course, for some housing providers there is recognition that the stock transfer of outlying stock to a more locally based housing provider who is better able to manage health and safety programmes within their locality may be the most appropriate step forward.