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Tenants and Leaseholders Annual Report

The 2021 annual report enables you as council tenants or leaseholders to have an informed say about how services are delivered and to allow you to judge the way we’re performing. In addition to this, the report will show our plans for the coming year and the ways in which we will be improving the services you receive. We are required to produce an annual report by the Housing Regulator.

Contents

  1. Councillor Cutkelvin's and Wendy Biddles introduction
  2. Council home information
  3. Rents and how we spent our money for 2020/2021
  4. The Tenancy Standard
  5. Tenant involvement and empowerment
  6. Homes standard
  7. Neighbourhood and community standard

Councillor Cutkelvin’s introduction (Assistant Mayor, Housing)

I am pleased to be able to welcome you to our 2021/2022 annual report.

It’s been a challenging year, but through it all we have continued to provide important services to those who need them most, an achievement for which I am immensely proud. I would like to express my thanks to you for your patience and understanding and to our staff for their dedication during this difficult period.

It is with a sense of renewed optimism that we can now look to the future, building on the achievements of this past year to not only return services to the standards expected before the pandemic, but to improve them, learning the lessons of the past year to work smarter and more efficiently. Through it all we will keep tenants and leaseholders at the heart of everything we do.

There are many exciting opportunities for us to develop our services in the year ahead. Advances in new technology have meant that we can provide services more effectively and the Government’s Social Housing White Paper will provide more opportunities for us to work together with you to make sure the right services are delivered to those who need them most. The Government are still consulting on their plans. As they provide more details of how they intend to implement the White Paper we will be in a position to deliver on its recommendations. And we will continue to work towards our goal of providing a decent home within the reach of every citizen – you can read more about the latest news on our new social housing building program in this report.

I would like to say a special thank you to the members of the Tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Forum who give their time, experience and expertise voluntarily to help improve the services for all council tenants and leaseholders. They also helped in the production of this annual report.

I hope you enjoy reading the report and that, like me, you are excited about the way our housing services are going to develop over the coming year. 

Introduction by Wendy Biddles, the Chair of the Tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Forum

I’m delighted to be able to share this year’s Annual Report with you.

As Forum members we have many years’ experience listening to what our local communities have to say and working with council officers to make sure that your voices are heard. I hope that by reading this report you will be able to see how this is happening.

Our main concern this year has been to ensure that essential services have continued to be delivered to those who need them most and I’m pleased to say that this has happened, which is a great credit to everyone involved.

We have all had to work together to get through this difficult period and I’m optimistic that we can build on this partnership working to ensure that everyone as a tenant or leaseholder feels valued and listened to.

Everyone of us has an important part to play in improving the services that are being delivered, so please take some of the many opportunities that are available for you to have your say. I hope this report will help give you some ideas as to how services can be developed when you next contact the council.

You can find out more about the work of the Tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Forum in this report. There is also information about how you can become a Forum member; we would love to hear from anyone who is interested in joining us.

Why we produce an annual report

This annual report is for you as a council tenant or leaseholder so that you can have an informed say about how our services are delivered and to allow you to judge the way we’re performing.

In addition to this, the report will tell you about our plans for the coming year and the ways in which we will be improving the services you receive.

We are required to produce an annual report by the Housing Regulator.

Council home information

Leicester Council is one of the country’s largest social landlords, providing homes and services to around 20,000 tenants and leaseholders.

Leicester’s council tenants and leaseholders are a diverse community reflecting the city’s rich and varied cultures:

  • Equalities profile

Ethnicity

  • Asian: 14.9%
  • Black: 14.1%
  • Chinese: 0.2%
  • Mixed: 2.7%
  • Other: 2.4%
  • White: 65.6%

Age

  • 16 to 21: 0.9%
  • 22 to 25: 1.9%
  • 26 to 34: 10.7%
  • 35 to 44: 20.5%
  • 45 to 54: 21.5%
  • 55 to 64: 19.5%
  • 65 and over: 24.8%

Number of properties by housing management area

West (formerly Beaumont Leys, Mowmacre and New parks areas)

  • 6,615 council homes
  • 113 HomeCome homes
  • 227 leaseholder homes

South (formerly Braunstone, Eyres Monsell and Saffron areas)

  • 6,226 council homes
  • 50 HomeCome homes
  • 209 leaseholder homes

East (formerly Central, Humberstone and Rowlatts Hill areas)

  • 7,004 council homes
  • 70 HomeCome homes
  • 1,073 leaseholder homes

Council homes - property type breakdown

  • Houses: 9,763
  • Flats: 5,613
  • Maisonettes: 1,117
  • Bungalows: 2,772
  • Bedsit/room: 153
  • Sheltered: 413

No. of homes by bedrooms:

  • Bedsit/rooms: 357
  • 1 bedroom: 7,045
  • 2 bedrooms: 4,723
  • 3 bedrooms: 7,144
  • 4 bedrooms: 457
  • 5 bedrooms: 99
  • 6 bedrooms: 20
  • 7 bedrooms: 1

Right to buy sales 2020/21

  • This year we lost 204 homes through right to buy sales.

Number of new council homes brought into use

Due to the significant demand for council homes from those in need of affordable housing we are continually looking to increase the stock of properties we have available to meet this need.

This year (2020/21):

  • We acquired 308 affordable new homes through our acquisitions programme where we look to buy back ex-council homes which meet the needs of those who require affordable housing.
  • We built 23 new homes as part of our council house building programme

Rents and how we spent our money for 2020/2021

Your rent charges cover the cost of providing you with a home - providing a tenancy and property management services and performing any repairs that the property requires. It is important that we collect all the rent that’s owed so that we can continue to maintain your homes to a good standard, provide important services for those who are in need and to plan for future improvements.

% of rent collected

We aim to collect all the rent that is owed to us so that we can provide the services you need to ensure that your tenancy meets your expectations.

  • For 2020/21 we collected a 101.01% of the rent that was owed to us – this figure is higher than the total rent owed for this year as we also collected some that was owed to us from the previous year.

How LCC rents compare with private sector rents

  • Bedsit: LCC rent 2021/22 = £57.64 / Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £96.69
  • 1 bedroom: LCC rent 2021/22 = £64.83 / Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £121.15
  • 2 bedrooms: LCC rent 2021/22 = £76.46 / Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £150.46
  • 3 bedrooms: LCC rent 2021/22 = £85.22 / Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £167.08
  • 4 bedrooms: LCC rent 2021/22 = £97.51 / Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £246.69*
  • 5 bedrooms: LCC rent 2021/22 = £104.21 / Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £246.69*
  • 6 bedrooms: LCC rent 2021/22 = £118.17/ Private rented sector (city wide) 2020 = £246.69*

(*average for 4+ bedrooms)

Breakdown of how we spend our money

  • Management and Landlord Services - £19.3m
  • Repairs and maintenance - £26.1m
  • Capital Programme - £16.3m
  • Interest on borrowing - £8.9m
  • Charges for support services - £4.2m

Additional capital expenditure

In addition to income from rents, our capital expenditure also includes revenue from other sources, such as Right to Buy receipts and money available from previous years’ budgets. This allows us to fund an extensive capital programme, which includes our Public Realm works and Affordable Housing and Acquisitions Programme, both of which you can read more about in this report.

The Tenancy Standard

What is the Tenancy Standard?

This standard requires us to let our homes to tenants in a fair, transparent and efficient way, making best use of the housing we have available to us and ensuring it contributes to strong successful communities.

In addition to this, we are expected to enable our tenants to have the opportunity to exchange their tenancy with that of another tenant through an internet-based mutual exchange service. It is also expected that the terms of our tenancies should be fair and proper.

How we let our homes

Leicester City Council’s housing stock is allocated from our housing register through a choice-based lettings scheme called HomeChoice. It allows you to  bid for the properties you want so that you get to make choices about where you want to live and the type of home that is most suitable for you.

Find out more about our housing register and HomeChoice on our apply for housing page.

Leicester City Council is a member of HomeSwapper, a national home swap scheme which has half a million households where exchanges could potentially take place right across the country.

Find out more about the HomeSwapper scheme.

We have a limited number of homes available and the demand for them is high, so we have to ensure that they go to those with the greatest need. We ensure this happens through our Allocations Policy.

Find out more about our allocations policy (bottom of the page).

Find out more about your conditions of tenancy.

The households that were helped through the housing register:

  • Number of households on the housing register 31 March 2021: 6,366
  • Number of households on register due to overcrowding 31 March 2021: 4,003
  • Number of households we re-housed due to homelessness (20/21): 517
  • In 2020/21, 3,760 people came to our Housing Options service for support and advice

Helping our tenants remain in their homes

As part of the Tenancy Standard it is required that we should develop and provide services that will support customers to maintain their tenancy and prevent unnecessary evictions

There were no evictions this year due to the Government’s moratorium on evictions as a result of the pandemic. Traditionally, we have a relatively low eviction rate compared to other authorities due to the comprehensive support and income collection work that we undertake.

Tenancy sustainment

It is important to us that our tenants are able to maintain their tenancies, particularly those who are vulnerable and in need of assistance. Tenancy sustainment makes an important contribution to stable communities, improving the quality of the living environment on our estates. It also reduces levels of voids within our stock and the costs associated with reletting our homes.

In 2020/21:

  • 90.2% of our new tenancies were sustained for over a year
  • Our STAR tenancy supported service assisted 585 vulnerable households to maintain their tenancies

Rent arrears

  • At the 31 March 2021, rent arrears were £1,799,864, down from £2,036,497 at 31 March 2020.

It is your responsibility to ensure your rent is paid on time. We have several ways you can pay your rent. The easiest is online through our website. If you’re struggling to pay your rent, please contact us as soon as possible on 0116 454 1007.

Find out more about the payment of rent and contact details.

Relet times

As part of the Tenancy Standard we are required to minimise the time that properties are empty between each letting.

Properties are advertised as soon as notice is given by the outgoing tenant so that we can start the allocation process without delay. We have a dedicated team that undertakes repairs on empty properties to make sure that homes are made available as quickly as possible. We work flexibly to prioritise repair work to empty properties to help households most in need, for example, homeless applicants living in temporary accommodation.

Relet times have been affected by the government restrictions placed on us as a result of the pandemic.

  • For 2020/21, the average time taken to relet a routine void home was 114.7 days.

Examples of what we are doing to meet the Tenancy Standard

To ensure we continue to offer the high level of services that the Tenancy Standard     requires, we have introduced a number of new initiatives to help make sure your accommodation meets your needs and that your experience of living there is a positive and secure one.

These initiatives include plans to address overcrowding and ways in which we can support our tenants to maintain their tenancies.

The Overcrowding Reduction Strategy

We are currently developing an Overcrowding Reduction Strategy to ensure that our tenants have appropriately sized accommodation to provide a suitable living space for them and a good quality home environment.

With the high numbers of households, particularly families, requiring social housing and the shortage of affordable homes available in Leicester, this sometimes means that not everyone has the kind of home that’s right for them. We are developing a coordinated approach between services to look at how we can overcome this and make sure everyone has the size of home they need. Research and analysis has already taken place and a number of proposals have been identified, which include:

  • Enhance the housing options available to overcrowded and under-occupied households, including looking at how we prioritise overcrowding on the housing register.
  • Ensure we make the best use of our existing stock, including making it easier for tenants to move into homes that better suit them, and looking at extending homes that are overcrowded.
  • Maximise the opportunities to develop new social housing which meets the needs of both overcrowded and under-occupying households

We will ensure that addressing overcrowding is a continuing priority for our services and the initiatives we develop will be reviewed on a regular basis to confirm they are making a positive difference to our tenants’ lives.

Tenancy support

We want our tenants to feel secure in their homes. To help achieve this aim, we are committed to providing support to those who may be struggling with their tenancies because they are vulnerable or experiencing a difficult time in their lives.

We provide an extensive range of support to those in need, but we are always looking at ways to extend and improve the effectiveness of the help we provide. Below are some of the new initiatives to deliver greater assistance to those in need that we have introduced this year.

New eligibility criteria for STAR

Our STAR (Supporting Tenants and Residents) service, provides vital support to vulnerable tenants, people who have been homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless without assistance. We are currently looking at the criteria we use to determine who needs the help that STAR provides to make sure everyone who needs it has access to the important support the service has to offer.

Rent Management advisors

We know that change is sometimes hard to deal with and that new ways of working may take time to get used to. In 2018 we recruited four new members of staff to help those tenants who needed support and were struggling to cope with paying their rent due to the introduction of Universal Credit.

The types of support that our Rent Management Advisors are providing includes: the setting up of bank accounts and email addresses, help with on-line claims, basic personal budgeting support and referrals to more specialist services, such as digital support. They have also provided invaluable assistance to those struggling with their rent during the current pandemic – you can read more about this below.

If you feel you are someone who is struggling to cope with paying your rent and might benefit from support and assistance, please contact us:

Income Management Team tenancy sustainment pilot

Circumstances sometimes mean some of our tenants may struggle with managing their tenancies. When this happens, we want to do everything we can to provide support and assistance to those who really need it to ensure that they do not lose their homes.

We provide extensive support for those in need, but we recognise that because of the pandemic more people are experiencing difficulties maintaining their tenancies. To provide further assistance we have introduced a new pilot scheme which will broaden the help we provide to ensure that those in need have access to all of the support that is available. We’re extending the assistance that our Rent Management Advisors provide so that they will be helping those in need with all of their financial and welfare advice needs, not just those that are directly related to housing. Having a single support contact will make it easier to identify all of the help that’s available and to ensure you get the support that you are entitled to.

Contacting vulnerable people during the pandemic

During the pandemic, the Council’s housing services have worked exceptionally hard in very challenging circumstances to support some of the most vulnerable people in the city.

  • The Repairs, Gas and Voids service have continued to provide emergency and urgent services throughout the pandemic. Our Gas team have also undertaken gas servicing to ensure the council is legally complaint and tenants are safe.
  • District Housing staff have continued to work behind the scenes to ensure that we successfully maintain important fire safety checks and work with a focus on larger tenanted buildings’ safety.
  • The Housing Income Management team have worked hard to support and help people that are facing changing personal circumstances and are having difficulty paying their rent.
  • Housing's wider work and focus has been to support those that are vulnerable in our Council tenancies and facing homelessness, making calls to check on tenants’ welfare and providing assistance where necessary.
  • The STAR (Supporting Tenants & Residents team) have continued to support our more vulnerable tenants. The Income management team has been working to help those with changing financial circumstances to apply for relevant benefits.
  • A number of staff that are unable to undertake work in their own areas moved over to work on the corporate shielding work. 25 staff, including Administration staff and Housing Transformation Team members, made thousands of calls to people in these groups to check on them and offer help.
  • Out Homelessness Services have provided additional units of temporary accommodation, advice and assistance, outreach support and the provision of meals to those in need.

Tenant involvement and empowerment

This standard sets out how we should communicate with and involve you in developing and delivering services.

We are required to provide you with the information and choices you need in a way that’s accessible to you so that you can make informed choices about your housing and to enable you to have your say in the provision of your services and the policies we develop in a meaningful way.

We should also provide you with the information you need to allow you to assess our performance.

In addition to this, our complaints process should be clear and accessible and ensure that complaints are resolved promptly, politely and fairly.

How you can have your say

There are several ways in which you can become involved in the delivery of services and make your views known to us. We manage two Forums, the Tenants and Leaseholders Forum and the Leaseholders Forum where you can monitor our performance and help us to improve our services to be sure that they are right for the people who need them.

If we make significant service and policy changes or plan a scheme which will affect your local community, we will consult you to get your views and let you know the outcome.

In addition to this, we provide you with the opportunity to tell us how satisfied you are and whether changes need to be made every time we deliver a service. If there is a significant issue, we will address it immediately.

We have also introduced an annual city-wide council Tenants and Leaseholders Satisfaction Survey where everyone can take part and have their say, regardless of whether you have used our services or not.

You can also take part in estate inspections or make your views known when you contact our officers through their day-to-day work.

How to find out more information

On the Housing pages of the Leicester City Council website we publish information on housing related issues, such as applying for a council house, support for private tenants, landlords and leaseholders, help for homeowners, and our work to tackle homelessness and empty homes. Find out more about our housing services.

Signing up to Your Leicester

General information about our services is published on the Leicester City Council website. We also use social media to update people on services. One of the ways we do this is through Your Leicester, an email newsletter that keeps you up to date with news, services and events in Leicester. Find out how you can subscribe to Your Leicester and our other newsletters.

Complaints

How to report complaints and compliments

We aim to provide the best possible services within the resources available. To help us achieve this, we aim to listen and be responsive to what you have to say. Your comments are vital to us. We will use this information to improve the services that we provide to you, our customers.

Find out more about our complaints procedure.

Housing complaints for last year were impacted by the restrictions imposed by the government as a result of the pandemic. The figures for 2021/20 are:

  • Housing Repairs Complaints: 39
  • Housing Options Complaints: 15
  • Housing “Other” Complaints: 35
  • Total Housing Complaints:  89

Of these 89 complaints, 11 were found to be justified, 22 partially justified, and 56 not justified.

Review of tenant involvement

We believe that working together with our tenants and leaseholders is the best way to achieve our shared goal of better housing conditions and services. To help realise this aim and also to make sure we comply with the requirements of the new Housing White Paper, we are reviewing the way that you can have your say on the services we provide.

Our aim is to ensure you can have your say in the way that suits you best and that you feel well enough informed to be able to have a meaningful view on service provision.

Public Realm consultation in the centre area

The City Mayor committed £5m over a three-year period to the Public Realm Works Project in the St Matthews and St Peter’s area of the city. We have been working closely with ward members and representatives from the Tenants and Leaseholders Forum to identify and design improvements for both areas. We have enlisted a Green Team that has focused on sprucing up both estates and has made a real impact on improving the appearance of the estates as well as addressing problems such as litter and pests.

Landscape architects are working closely with stakeholders to develop future designs which will meet the needs of those who live there, including parking, play areas and low maintenance green areas for future use.

The lockdown has prevented site visits, however as we come out of lockdown we will be back on the estates to identify further improvements and carrying out consultation with tenants and residents to progress this project and make these areas more attractive, enjoyable places to live.

Find out more about the proposals.

The development of our on-line services

We are currently working to develop the ways you can contact us online. Housing Online is what we call the digital access point for many of our services. This can be accessed 24/7. Through this you can already view and download rent statements, receive important messages from us and update your contact and security information.

As part of the development of the channel shift agenda, tenants are now able to log their own routine repairs and make an appointment through their Housing Online account. A second phase of this work is currently being progressed which will allow tenants to raise enquiries for existing repairs and to change appointment slots online.

Register and log onto Housing Online.

We are mindful that some service users do not have access to the internet to make use of online services. We still have our existing communication channels in place for you to contact us.

Homes standard

Overview of the standard

To meet this standard, we must provide a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service to homes and communal areas.

The decent homes standard

The decent homes standard was introduced by the Government to ensure social housing is in a reasonable condition in terms of repairs, modern facilities, energy efficiency and is free from serious hazards. Since 2010, all of our properties meet the standard. We have an IT system to analyse the condition of our stock, which is used to plan when items in the home need replacing, to ensure we continue to meet the standard. The work required each year, such as boiler replacements, rewires and new roofs, is financed through our planned maintenance programme. 

Some of the work we undertook last year (2020/21) to ensure our homes meet the decent homes standard, includes:

  • Number of new bathrooms fitted - 107
  • Number of new kitchens fitted - 380
  • Number of electrical rewires completed - 456
  • Number of replacement boilers fitted - 675

Total number of repairs completed

The total number of repairs carried out in 2020/21 was 66,121, compared with 88,094 twelve months earlier – due to the government restrictions placed on us as a result of the pandemic we didn’t carry out some of the lower priority repairs in 2020-21.

Number of repairs broken down by work areas, 2020/21

  • Carpentry: 1,040
  • Manufactured Joinery: 13
  • Communal Electrics: 677
  • Internal Electrics: 6,155
  • Window and Door Glazing: 667
  • Bathrooms: 15,340
  • Kitchens: 6,374
  • Drainage / Jetting: 4,919
  • Wet Trades (Internal): 1,379
  • Communal Internal Repairs: 299
  • Damp and Condensation Treatment: 171
  • DPC and Timber Treatment: 41
  • External Ground Level Work: 1,632
  • External Work at Height: 3,063
  • Gypsy and Traveller Sites: 128
  • Metalwork: 418
  • Painting: 160
  • Gas Repairs: 13,558
  • Communal (District) Heating: 2,069
  • Gas Heating and hot Water: 1
  • All Others: 4

The Repairs handbook

You can find out the information you may need when repairs are required to your home in our Repairs Handbook. The handbook also includes handy hints and tips for looking after your home while you are a tenant in a Leicester City Council property.

Go to the Repairs Handbook.

Responsive repairs (day to day repairs to your homes)

Wherever possible, our aim is to complete day-to-day repairs to your homes at the first visit. This reduces inconvenience to you and saves time and money, and reduces our carbon footprint.

  • 82.6% of repairs are completed at the first visit.

This figure has been impacted by the government restrictions placed on us by the pandemic.

  • In 2020/21, 96% of repairs were completed within the target times set.

Repairs satisfaction

We conduct repairs satisfaction surveys to ensure that our service is meeting your expectations and to help us make improvements when they are needed.

The headline results for 2020/21 were:

  • When asked, were you satisfied with your repair, 89.5% said yes.
  • When asked, was your repair completed in a reasonable time, 90.5% said that it was.
  • When asked, how would you rate our service when you reported a repair, 93% said that it was a positive experience.

Gas safety checks

Our Gas and Heating Services have had to maintain full services during the pandemic due to the legal obligation to carry out annual gas safety checks and due to most works being deemed as emergencies or of an urgent nature. This work has been carried out with increased challenges, including the cleaning of all appliances and work surfaces, wearing of PPE and managing customer expectations and fears. Despite the challenges, the team have made over 55,000 visits since the start of the pandemic, which has resulted in every property now having a valid gas safety certificate, otherwise known as being 100% legally compliant. 

Adaptions

It is important to us that our properties are accessible to the people who live in them so that they can remain independent and occupy their own homes for as long as possible. It is also important that we have a stock of accessible homes for those who are likely to need them in future.

The current budget of £1.2m is used for the adaptation of council properties to meet the needs of tenants, in liaison with Adult Social Care. We are spending £300k of this budget for adaptations to properties for those people currently on the housing register enabling them better access to homes which will meet their needs.

Adapted properties in our housing stock:

  • 94 fully wheelchair accessible properties
  • 1,473 ground floor properties
  • 1,901 partially wheelchair accessible properties

 Last year (2020/21) we carried out:

  • 91 minor adaptations (such as ramps and door widening).
  • In the same period, we carried out 127 major adaptations (such as level access showers, stair lifts and through floor lifts). 

This work will continue in 2021/22 in response to assessments made by Adult Social Care.

Communal area planned maintenance

During 2020-21 we continued with our programme of planned maintenance across the 1,035 internal communal areas. This programme enables early notification of works being carried out for you and helps reduce ad-hoc responsive repairs.

Goscote House demolition

Goscote House, the former 23-storey residential tower block on the St Peter’s estate, is schedule to be demolished.

The block was decommissioned in 2018 after structural reports called into doubt the long-term viability of the building. All existing tenants were relocated.

Demolition work began in July, with the interior of the building being stripped. Demolition of the building itself will be carried out floor by floor and is expected to begin in late 2021. It is estimated this could take around 10 months to complete.

The city council is currently considering options for the future of the site, including the construction of a smaller residential tower block.

Compliance with health and safety obligations

Your safety is a primary consideration in the way we develop and deliver our services.

Fire safety

Fire safety is of paramount importance to us as a landlord. We have policies and procedures in place to reduce the risk of fires, for example our Assistant Housing Officers carry out regular fire inspections to properties with communal areas, such as flats, maisonettes and houses in multiple occupation. All of these buildings have their own fire risk assessments and people who may require help getting to safety are provided with a personal evacuation plan in case a fire starts. We have a no tolerance policy on items left in communal areas. Our fire safety work includes implementing recommendations made by the fire service.

We have agreed to fit sprinkler systems at our 5 high story tower blocks. Work installing sprinklers at Maxwell House has been completed and work on the 4 other blocks has been programmed with an expected start on site date of summer 2021/22.

Gas safety

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 outline our duties as a landlord to make sure all gas appliances, fittings, chimneys and flues are safe and working efficiently. Our 3 main legal duties are to:

  • To carry out an annual gas safety check – we are 100% compliant.
  • Provide a gas safety record of the check to you, the tenant – we are 100% compliant.
  • Make sure that all gas pipework, appliances, chimneys and flues are kept in safe condition – we comply with this through annual service checks and by responding to reported issues in a timely manner.

Electrical safety

Despite the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have continued to deliver our capital investment programme of dwelling rewires.

The cyclical programme of electrical testing in communal areas has also continued with electrical works including the installation of more energy efficient way lighting.

Asbestos safety

The Housing Divisions obligations with regard to Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM’s) are to protect its employees, tenants and contractors from the harmful effects of asbestos, as far as reasonably practicable, by:

  • Complying with the Asbestos Regulations and Approved Codes of Practices.
  • Taking all reasonably practicable steps to prevent employees, contractors and others from being exposed to asbestos fibres.
  • Providing appropriate training, procedures for safe systems of work and PPE/Respiratory Protective Equipment for Council employees.

To do this, the Housing Division ensures that our properties are surveyed by appropriately qualified and trained staff. Carrying out surveys enables the data to be used to ensure that the information in the asbestos register is maintained and up to date. The register should also be checked to establish the presence, location and type of any asbestos containing materials prior to any maintenance and refurbishment work.  

Where required, appropriate steps are taken to remove the asbestos containing material and replaced with non-asbestos products. No new asbestos-based products will be used in future building construction or refurbishment.

The Housing Department provides Asbestos Awareness Training to all relevant employees and provides risk assessed PPE and RPE, Risk Assessments and Method Statements as appropriate for the tasks undertaken.

Assessment of asbestos containing materials are undertaken for all ‘non-domestic’ areas on a quarterly basis and reported to the Corporate Landlord.

Water safety

Every 3 months we test, and then treat the water in the district heating network. This is to ensure that the system is running correctly. The treatment is used to ensure that there is no build-up of unwanted properties, such as scale.

Within the housing property portfolio, water hygiene is a shared responsibility to which we all have a part to play. Cold water should be kept below 20c and hot water generally above 60c. Tenants and residents also have a responsibility to keep their homes in good standing which includes general cleaning of outlets such as taps and showers, and reporting of any relevant repairs, so that the water system can remain in good working order.

Lift Safety

Lifts are inspected monthly by suitably trained lift engineers by way of a service inspection and any items are reported to Estate Building Services (EBS) for approval for resolution.

The lifts are also subject to a statutory insurance inspection or LOLER inspection –(Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 ) and this takes place every 6 months. This inspection reports by category A, B and C items, with Cat A items also reported to Health and Safety Executive and tracked to ensure a lift is not used until it has been repaired. 

Our EBS Helpdesk also takes calls for loss of service and will raise emergency call outs to our Lift Contractors to attend within between 2 and 24hrs, depending on urgency level.

The intercom within the lift is connected to our Lift Engineers helpdesk and any persons becoming trapped can immediately notify the Lift Engineers directly and staff local to site will attend immediately.

Climate change – decarbonisation project

Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world. We are committed to tackling this issue. Leicester City Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019. Our ambition is for Leicester to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030 or sooner.

We have been working towards improving the environmental impact of our homes for many years and during this time we have significantly reduced the CO2 emissions from our stock.

This has been achieved by window replacements, new central heating installations, new energy efficient boilers and controls, internal and external wall and roof insulation and solar panels.

The homes being built as part of our current housebuilding programme have been designed to maximise energy efficiency. 

However, in a climate emergency we must go even further: retrofitting more insulation, efficient heating and lighting and renewable energy systems wherever possible; encouraging tenants to make use of smart meters and other energy saving controls; and starting to plan for the introduction of low or zero carbon heating, when we are clear about the government’s preferred approach. We are currently developing a plan to ensure that we deliver on these commitments. We’ll keep you updated on our work through this and other reports.

Find out more about the Leicester Climate Emergency Strategy.

Neighbourhood and community standard

Overview of the standard

This standard requires us as the landlord to work together with you to keep the neighbourhood and your homes’ communal areas clean and safe, and to develop the local environment. It also commits us to working with partner agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour.

To help us accomplish this and to give you a commitment of what we aim to achieve, we have developed a policy to let you know what you can expect from us in terms of maintaining your neighbourhood.

Get details on the Maintaining and Improving Neighbourhoods Policy.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB)

We try to put in place as many checks as we can to prevent anti-social behaviour from happening in the first place. For example, our Conditions of Tenancy (which were recently revised) has clear guidance on what is unacceptable behaviour and the outcomes which will result when this happens.

Despite this, anti-social behaviour does still happen. When it does, tackling it is a priority for us and we will take the appropriate measures required to address it, including working with those affected and other agencies to resolve the issues. Each case of anti-social behaviour is different. Our actions will depend upon the nature and severity of each incident.

  • Last year our housing officers investigated 1,244 anti-social behaviour cases, a reduction in the number of cases compared with the two previous years.

Strong partnership arrangements with key agencies are in place to help us to resolve anti-social behaviour, including the police, victim support services, youth services and probation.

We also have a variety of arrangements in place to support victims of anti-social behaviour. These include referrals to specialist support agencies, attending court with victims and witnesses, providing security packages to support tenants to remain in their homes and, where it is not safe to do so, we will support tenants who need to move.

Find out more about our approach to addressing anti-social behaviour.

Changes to the Anti-social behaviour service

We recognise the importance of addressing anti-social behaviour effectively to you and your communities. Increasingly we are seeing more complex cases and recognise the need to improve services to meet the changing needs of tenants. As a result, we are currently looking at how this service is delivered with a view to making better use of the existing expertise within the council. 

Creating safe communities you can be proud of

Creating sustainable communities is about more than housing, it means cleaner, safer, greener neighbourhoods in which people have confidence and pride.

We have an Environmental Works and Communal Areas Fund which helps to deliver significant environmental improvements on estates, such as landscaping, new security measures, community facilities, pocket parks, fencing and communal area improvements. Tenants and ward councillors help decide where this money should be spent, based on their local needs and priorities. These schemes have made significant contributions to improving the overall image, appearance and general quality of life within our estates

During 2020/21 a further £1.2m has been invested to start a 3-year public realm improvement programme, primarily in the St Matthews and St Peters areas of the city.

We spent a combined £1.95m on these projects in 2020/21, which will rise to £2.65 million for this year (2021/22) and each of the following 2 years.

You can read more about the public realm improvement programme elsewhere in this report.

Neighbourhood improvement scheme

Housing’s Neighbourhood Improvement Scheme continues to help the long-term unemployed by providing pre-employment training and a period of work experience.   Their work on our estates includes painting, clearing overgrown areas, tidying unsightly spots, cleaning UPVC windows and removing rubbish.

Chris Burgin

I hope you found this report useful and informative. Thank you to everyone who has helped us improve our services with your feedback, whether through our satisfaction surveys, representation groups or just the comments to our staff get on the doorstep, it all makes an important contribution to making sure we get things right.

This has been a demanding year for everyone, but through it all the commitment of staff when reacting to and dealing with a crisis and the way our communities have supported one another has always been first class and something we can all be very proud of.

As a result of having to adapt to the restrictions placed on us by the pandemic, we have learned a great deal about how we can work more effectively to deliver your services in new ways. In the coming year we will be progressing some of these initiatives to improve your access to our services and to make sure you get the assistance and support you need when you need it. This is an exciting time and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead, which I’m sure, with your help, we can meet.

Finally, I would like to thank you for your patience and cooperation during the times when services have had to operate under the government’s pandemic restrictions and to say a special thanks to our Tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Forum who have continued to work throughout the crisis to ensure that your voice was heard.