Empty Homes (voids) Policy

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Empty Homes (voids) Policy - Viridian Housing

Empty Homes (voids) Policy

Purpose:

This policy describes how Viridian will manage empty properties to

ensure a quick turnaround of empty properties and minimise rental

loss.

Author:

Joseph Brimpong

Department:

Document ref:

Date:

This is the date the document received final approval.

Review date: October 2013

Context:

Lettings Policy, Repairs Policy, Empty Property (voids )

Procedures, Recharge Policy & Procedure


Empty property (voids) policy

CONTENTS

1 POLICY STATEMENT.............................................................................................. 3

2 LEGISLATIVE/REGULATORY CONTEXT .............................................................. 3

3 DEFINITION AND SCOPE ....................................................................................... 3

4 THE VIRIDIAN APPROACH .................................................................................... 4

5 EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY STATEMENT ............................................................ 7

6 VALUE FOR MONEY............................................................................................... 7

7 ENVIRONMENTAL / GREEN STATEMENT ........................................................... 7

8 RESIDENT INVOLVEMENT / CONSULTATION ..................................................... 8

9 PERFORMANCE MEASURES & TARGETS........................................................... 8

10 MONITORING & REVIEW.................................................................................... 8

11 APPENDIX 1: GLOSSARY OF TERMS ............................................................. 9

12 APPENDIX 2: PERFORMANCE TARGETS .................................................... 10

15 APPENDIX 3: EMPTY PROPERTY STANDARD ............................................ 11

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Empty property (voids) policy

1. Hyperlinks to related documents

• Tenant Services Authority (TSA) regulations

• Discretionary decisions policy (if relevant)

• Lettings Policy

• Repairs Policy

• Tenancy management policy (ending tenancies)

• Green Strategy

• Asset Management Strategy

2. Policy statement

2.1. The mission of Viridian Housing is to provide quality homes for residents to

make the most of their lives. Viridian is committed to providing social impact in

its services and effectively managing empty homes is key in having a positive

impact in improving the social factors that affect households housing needs.

We will genuinely listen to our customers so that we change our housing

product to maximise the quality of life that our customers can achieve.

2.2. The aims of this policy are to;

• Ensure that the customer is at the heart of all service improvements and to

achieve high levels of customer satisfaction and social impact

• Minimise the time taken to complete repairs on empty properties so that rent

loss is minimised and homes are relet as quickly as possible

• Ensure that we provide quality homes and that properties are brought back to

the agreed minimum lettable standard

• Minimise adverse effects on neighbouring properties and the wider community

whilst properties are empty.

• Make best use of our housing stock considering needs of our residents and the

local communities in which we operate.

• Support the delivery of the SAP80 and C60 targets set out in the Asset

Management Strategy

• Support the delivery of Viridian’s environmental aspirations as set out in the

green strategy

3. Definition and scope

3.1. This policy relates to empty properties (voids) of varying sizes that become

empty following the termination of a tenancy agreement. The policy applies to

the following types of accommodation in all regions where we own homes;

• General needs accommodation

• Accommodation for people over the age of 55

• Accommodation designed or adapted for people with disabilities

• Supported housing

• Accommodation for single women between 18 and 30

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Empty property (voids) policy

4. The Viridian approach

4.1. Ending Tenancies

4.1.1. We will act promptly when notified of a resident’s intention to terminate their

tenancy.

4.1.2. We will provide information and support on the processes for returning keys,

inspecting the property, arranging payment of rent arrears and clearing the

property.

4.1.3. We will enforce the requirement for residents to give the required 28 days

notice, however in exceptional circumstances, discretion can be used to

accept less time when it is clear that enforcement would put the resident in

hardship.

4.1.4. Any goods or property left in a property by the former resident will be dealt

with in accordance with the law and our end of tenancy policy and

procedures.

4.1.5. We will recharge outgoing residents for any reasonable costs we incur in

restoring the property, its fixtures or fittings back to the minimum level

expected before re-letting. We will also recharge outgoing residents for any

clearance of any rubbish they leave in their home, garden or communal

areas.

4.2. Making best use of Stock

4.2.1. Viridian Housing has an active asset management strategy and it is our

policy to review the future use of each home.

4.2.2. We will carry out an options appraisal of all properties while in the notice

period to consider its suitability for conversion to affordable rent, market rent

or disposal in line with strategic aims

4.2.3. Asset Strategy and Planning have developed an options appraisal tool that

will be used for this assessment.

4.3. Empty Property repairs

4.3.1. We will carry out a full void inspection as soon as is reasonably possible

following notification. The inspection will identify any works that will be

required to bring the property back to the minimum lettable standard.

4.3.2. We will define the scope of the works required by classifying as either major

or minor work and providing a target time for completion of the work.

4.3.3. Wherever possible we will retain major adaptations and will take steps to relet

the property to a household who will benefit from the adaptations.

4.3.4. We will proactively monitor the progress of any repairs and properties will be

at different stages of the works to ensure we maintain the highest levels of

quality and to support our value for money objectives.

4.3.5. Where possible we will give new residents choice on the fixtures and fittings

that will be added to the property as part of the repairs.

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Empty property (voids) policy

4.4. Decorations

4.4.1. Internal re-decoration is the resident’s responsibility and we will only

decorate properties where the repairs work has destroyed the wall finish or

the wall finish is unhygienic or contains offensive graffiti or material.

4.4.2. Residents may be awarded with a decoration allowance if a property has

been left in a generally poor decorative order.

4.4.3. The award of a decoration allowance is intended to help towards the cost of

decoration and is not automatically provided for every room in every

property.

4.4.4. When assessing the condition of property and whether a decoration

allowance is to be provided, consideration will be given to the condition of

the existing decoration of the property. We will assess the standard in

which the paper and paint has been applied and cannot take into

consideration individual taste or personal preferences for colour schemes.

4.4.5. Decoration vouchers (where applicable) will be issued to new and

transferring residents at the tenancy sign up appointment and residents will

be required to sign to acknowledge receipt.

4.5. Safety Checks

4.5.1. We will ensure that all electrical systems are working safely. Where we

provide white goods as part of furnished homes we will ensure that these

are safe to use.

4.5.2. All gas systems will be capped off at the point that a property becomes

empty. We will carry out visual inspections and carry out re-commissioning

of boilers once the property is occupied.

4.5.3. An asbestos survey will be carried out on all empty properties. If the results

of the test are positive, remedial work to remove or make safe will be

completed prior to commencement of repairs work.

4.6. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

4.6.1. Energy performance Certificates will be carried out once every 10 years.

Where a new resident moves into a property, they will be provided with a

copy of an EPC and a related information leaflet.

4.7. New Developments

4.7.1. New developments will be handed over on the date agreed, where the

handover date is to be delayed, we will keep residents informed.

4.8. Empty Property standard

4.8.1. We will work with residents to help us define a minimum standard for the reletting

of empty homes and will ensure that all empty properties are brought

up to this standard prior to letting. Where major works are required we will

aim to give prospective residents choices on colour and style of components

which are to be replaced.

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Empty property (voids) policy

4.8.2. To ensure we provide quality homes we will carry out pre-handover

inspections that confirm that all aspects of the minimum lettings standard

have been met. There may be instances where items will need to be

ordered, in these occasions new residents will be informed as part of the

sign up of the work that is outstanding, providing clear guidance on when

the work will be completed and contact details for the individual or individual

who will be carrying out the work.

4.8.3. Viridian may decide to offer an enhanced empty standard to affordable

rented residents based on market conditions.

4.9. Hard to let properties

4.9.1. We will closely manage and monitor our empty properties at weekly

meetings to identify and resolve any ongoing issues

4.9.2. We will take a systematic approach based on our knowledge of local issues

when dealing with hard to let properties and we will be flexible in our

approach to resolve difficulties for example by increasing the level of work

and creating additional demand externally for these properties.

4.9.3. We will work with local communities to develop local lettings polices to deal

with re-occurring problems.

4.10. Viewing empty properties

4.10.1. All prospective residents will be given the opportunity to attend an

accompanied viewing with a representative of Viridian Housing.

4.10.2. Homeseekers will be provided with a list of the repairs work that has been

scheduled for completion so that they can make informed decisions as to

whether or not to accept offers of new homes.

4.10.3. Viridian will ensure that properties that are undergoing repairs work are safe

to enter before we arrange a viewing to minimise the risk to residents and

employees.

4.11. Customer focus

4.11.1. We will carry out a pre-termination inspection wherever possible to assess

the work that is required.

4.11.2. We will provide residents the opportunity to give feedback on the service

that they have received including exit and new resident surveys.

4.11.3. We will monitor resident satisfaction with the voids service as part of our

new tenant and exit surveys. will report back to our residents on the any

improvements that we have made to the service as a result of their

feedback.

4.11.4. Viridian has properties in areas of flood risk, where this is the case

prospective residents will receive full information on the nature and extent of

the risk. We will also provide appropriate advice on what to do and how to

prepare for such an event if it were to occur.

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Empty property (voids) policy

5. Equality and diversity statement

5.1. Viridian has an Equality and diversity policy and strategy and this policy is

consistent with our strategic objectives in this area.

5.2. The Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as someone who has a

mental or physical impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse

effect on their ability to carry out normal day to day activities. Viridian will

seek to ensure that its lettings process ensures that there no direct or

indirect discrimination against disabled persons in the provision of its

Lettings service. It will do this through Equality Impact Assessments of its

policy and any future changes to the Lettings Policy.

5.3. If a disability or vulnerability is assessed or made known to Viridian by the

applicant we will seek to offer advice and assistance through our own inhouse

support services or sign post to other specialist organisations.

5.4. Viridian will ensure information on our empty homes (voids) policy is

available in accessible formats such as pictorial or in British Sign Language

or an interpreter is available to explain our process.

5.5. We will also ensure reasonable adjustments are made during the process

through e.g. aids and adaptations or redecorations where a disabled person

would be at a substantial disadvantage if the adjustment was not made.

6. Value for money statement

6.1. The corporate approach for improving value for money in our services

focuses on benchmarking our performance against best performers in the

sector. We will aim to consistently achieve upper quartile performance

specifically in relation to the cost of completing work on empty properties

and the time that it takes to relet empty properties.

6.2. Viridian assesses value for money on a whole life basis and strives to find

the optimum combination of whole life cost, time and quality. We will

therefore consider the initial cost, operating and maintenance cost as well

as disposal cost, in line with time and quality when making decisions

relating to value for money. As part of the quality considerations, we take

environmental aspects into account.

6.3. Procurement of works to empty properties will be carried out in accordance

with the Asset Management and Procurement strategies.

7. Environmental / Green statement (if relevant)

7.1. Viridian has a green strategy covering environmental considerations. This

voids policy aims to contribute to achieving Viridian’s aspirations with

regards to:

• Energy management

• Water usage

• Waste management, reuse and recycling

• Low carbon travel and transport

• Climate change resilience

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Empty property (voids) policy

• Ecology and biodiversity

• Use of sustainable materials

7.2. An assessment will be carried out to identify necessary improvements to the

property, in line with Viridian’s environmental aspirations as set out in the

green and asset management strategies. Environmental improvements to

the property will be made as appropriate.

8. Resident involvement and consultation

8.1. This policy has been developed following consultation with of Viridian

resident and asset management groups.

8.2. A copy of the policy will be made available to residents upon request.

8.3. The annual report to residents will also include information relating to our

performance and customer satisfaction with the service.

9. Performance measures and targets

9.1. The success of this policy will be measured against the key performance

indicators, through annual benchmarking and regular reviews of the

management accounts. The KPI’s will focus on the average time that

properties are empty, the average time that they are undergoing works and

resident satisfaction with the voids process and the quality of their new

home. These measures will be reviewed annually to ensure they are

adequately capturing empty property performance.

10. Monitoring and review arrangements

10.1. The voids policy will be reviewed in consultation with residents every two

years or as required following any major changes in legislation.

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Empty property (voids) policy

11. Appendix 1 - Glossary of terms

Empty Home

An empty home can be defined as a property that has no resident for a period of time

following;

• Formal termination of tenancy

• On the death of a resident where no succession exists

• Abandonment

• Eviction

• Transfer

New Lets – New developments which have been handed over following completion

and are waiting to be let for the first time

Re-lets - properties which have been occupied previously and are now empty

awaiting allocation or undergoing repair.

Major repairs Work

Major repairs are works which could not reasonably be carried out with a resident in

occupation and which need to be carried in a property while it is vacant. They involve

remedial works that are necessary for the property to remain habitable;-

Structural repairs - these are works that are essential to maintain stability and weather

resistance in the man structural elements of a dwelling i.e. floors, walls, and roofs

Site Works - this is work to the area around, and specific to the dwellings involved and

is essential to the safety , security and protection of residents (e.g. asbestos removal or

the replacement of substantial reconstruction of unstable boundary walls, footpaths etc)

Service installations - this is work to building services, where deterioration is such that

the basic amenities in a dwelling could be seriously imparted. For example renewal of

installations such as gas, electricity and water supplies, heating and ventilation and

lifts.

Consequential abnd other works - these are works required as a result of major repairs

such as reinstatement or making good finishes and fittings.

Any works that significantly improve the dwellings should be classed as major repairs

Please note that if a resident has been permanently decanted in order for works to be

carried out then these are classed as major repairs.

(HouseMark guidance - 2011)

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Empty property (voids) policy

12. Appendix 2 - Performance targets

Type of void

Days

Minor Repairs

Supported Housing void - clean and elect only 4

Supported Housing void - clean, elect, redecoration (smaller than 1 6

bed)

Supported Housing void - clean and elect and redecoration (1 bed or 8

above )

General needs - minor remedial works only 6

additional remedial works i.e. plus type 2 component 10

Any void with type 3 component 12

Any void with type 1 component 14

Major Repairs

Component 2 + component 3 14

Component 1 + component 2 16

Component 1 + component 3 19

Component 1 + component 1 + component 2 21

Component 1 + component 1 + component 3 24

Component 4 30

Component type 1

Cannot be completing in conjunction

with other components

Component type 2

Can be carried out in conjunction with

other works

Component type 3

Can be completed in conjunction with

other works but will require additional

time to complete

• Electrical rewire

• Boiler replacement

• Full install

• Plastering

• Major clearance inc. disposal of

sharps

• Full redecoration

• Asbestos removal

• Kitchen replacement

• Bathroom replacement

• Electrical upgrade

• Window replacement

• Remedial work (inc cleaning)

• Renewal of flooring

• Roofing work

• Minor damp work

Component 4 • Major damp coursing

• Insurance works

• Notifiable asbestos removal

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Empty property (voids) policy

13. Appendix 3 - Empty Property Standard

Baths,

shower

trays, and

sinks

• Any chips in sanitary ware will be repaired . (Cracked or

excessively spoiled sanitary ware replaced). Lime scale will

be removed from all surfaces

• Any showers curtains which do not belong to Viridian will

be removed and if necessary and the surfaces made good.

• All taps, plugs and chains will be in good working order.

Fittings which are near the end of their useful life will be

replace

• Minimum splash back to baths, wash hand basins/sinks

and worktops to be 300mm (two courses).

• Splash back to bath will be greater where a shower has

been installed and is being kept

• Poorly finished tiles will be re-grouted and all mastic points

will be water tight

• Where appropriate, water saving measures will be installed

in the shower, taps and toilet cistern

Cleaning

Kitchen Areas

• All rubbish and former tenant’s effects will be removed from

cupboards

• Cupboards will be swept and cleaned internally

• Taps, all surfaces and worktop areas to be cleaned and left

smear free

• Walls tiles and other surfaces will be degreased and

cleaned

Bathroom & Toilet

• Any sanitary ware not being replaced will be disinfected.

• Bath, bath panel and taps will be cleaned and left smear

free

General Areas

• The inside of windows will be washed, however glazed

screens will be cleaned on both sides to remove staining or

dirty marks and left smear free.

• Window sills, frames and ledges and electrical fixtures and

fittings will be washed with an appropriate solution to

remove any traces of condensation staining or other dirty

marks.

• All traces of foam backed carpet sticking to tiled floor areas

will be removed and the property swept through

• All skirting boards will be swept and left free from dust and

dirt

• All dust and dirt will be removed from behind radiators

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Empty property (voids) policy

• All tiled floor areas within the property will be cleaned and

be left smear free.

Decoration • Any decorating carried out will involve preparation of all

surfaces

• Undercoat and gloss will be applied to timber and metal

surfaces.

• Lining paper will be used where necessary and two coats of

paint will be applied to walls and ceilings.

• For general needs accommodation there are to be no

decoration works carried out unless there has been major

re-plastering work or severe staining of the walls.

• Decorating vouchers may be issued if deemed necessary.

• The award of a decoration allowance is intended to help

towards the cost of decoration and is not automatically

provided for every room.

• All properties that are to be relet at affordable rents will

be fully decorate

• Support and retirement properties will only be

decorated where the existing decorations are of such

a poor quality that the incoming resident will need to

decorate the new property. Where decorations in

support and retirement homes are adequate then no

decorations or decorating vouchers will be provided

• Residents who have a disability that would prevent them

from carrying out decorations may be eligible to have redecorations

completed on their behalf where they have no

relatives who could carry this out on their behalf

Doors and

locks

• All doors to fit their frames and open and close with

reasonable tolerance (including locks and keys).

• Where possible draught excluders will be fitted to entrance

and patio doors, as well as letter slots in external doors

• All fittings to be present and in good working order.

• Locks to internal doors will be removed and holes filled

• Door closers will be fitted to all fire doors And fire door

intumescent strips will be checked to ensure they will

work correctly in case of fire

• For retirement housing and flats, fire doors will be fitted

where required to meet current regulations and fire risk

assessment requirements.

• Yale and mortice locks will be changed to the front and

back doors and any patio door locks are also to be

changed

• Locks to external letterboxes will be changed

• Bathroom and toilet doors will be fitted with an appropriate

bolt.

• Internal non standard glazed doors fitted by tenants shall

be checked for compliance with the building regulations

relating to the use of safety glass. Where they do not

comply they will be replaced by ply faced flush doors

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Empty property (voids) policy

Drains and

wastes

• All stopcocks and gate valves will be in good working order.

All units will have a stopcock to the cold water mains

• Where possible all pipe work will be checked for leaks

• All tanks and pipes in the loft will be lagged/insulated. Hot

water cylinders will also be insulated

• All drain gulleys are to be cleared, and waste and drains

checked for blockages.

Electrics • A full National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation

Contracting (NICEIC) electrical check is carried out and the

certificate provided to the incoming resident

• All work identified in the NICEIC check as requiring urgent

attention will be completed before the property is re-let

• All non-approved light fittings will be replaced with

pendants/batten holders as appropriate

• All non approved appliances and systems (eg burglar

alarms) will be removed

• Damaged or faulty electrical points will be replaced

• Smoke detectors will be fitted to all properties

Floors and

stairs

Gardens and

fencing

• All loose floorboards screwed down

• All damaged floorboards replaced

• Excessive gaps between the floor and skirting will be

closed with beading

• Excessive gaps that may encourage rodent penetration will

be boarded up and/or filled with wire mesh

• All kitchens and bathrooms floors will be fitted with an

appropriate non-slip floor covering.

• All rubbish in gardens will be removed

• Overgrown shrubbery will be cut back

• All green houses, timber sheds and timber garages shall be

removed unless in good condition and will be “gifted” to the

incoming resident

• All garages, timber sheds will be checked for asbestos

containing material (ACM) and where identified appropriate

action taken

• leave the garden/s clean and tidy and repair/remove paths

or fences and leave the whole free from any obvious health

and safety hazard

• Any patio area or paving will be free from any obvious

health and safety hazards

• Fences and gates that are part of the dwelling will be

repaired as necessary

General • All rubbish, furniture, carpets and timber flooring will be

removed from the property (including lofts, cellars and

cupboards) and disposed of responsibly

• Net curtains will be fitted for security purposes

• If unauthorised alterations are present these will be

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Empty property (voids) policy

removed where they do not improve the standard of the

property or will result in additional expense to maintain

• Tanks to be checked for covers, insulation, serviceability

and leaks

• All other cupboards/wardrobes left in situ must have

appropriate handles, catches, rails, shelves as necessary

and any sliding doors must be left in working order

• Works specified under the reinvestment programme will be

completed when undertaking empty property repairs

• All properties should be checked for asbestos and where

identified appropriate action taken

• All properties will be inspected following completion of

repairs and cleaning to ensure they meet the agreed

standards

Heating

systems

• Heating will be supplied to all habitable areas

• When the property becomes empty the gas supply will be

capped (for safety) at the meter as soon as possible if a

long term void is anticipated

• When the resident moves and confirms that the gas supply

has been arranged, a gas safety check will be carried out

and a Landlords Gas Safety Record (LGSR) will be issued

to the new resident. The supply will then be re-connected

Kitchens • All units and worktops will be in good working order

• Any missing or damaged units or worktops will be replaced

with the closest match to the existing

• Waste and stop taps for a washing machine will be

provided

• Kitchen units and worktops renewed to provide a good

modern standard with adequate storage space, electrical

points, appliance space and secure and safe flooring.

Kitchen layouts will be amended where this is practical and

financially viable

• All missing or cracked tiles will be replaced to closely match

the existing ones

• Cooker spaces will be tiled to the same height as splash

back

• All mastic seals will be watertight

Pest Control • Should the property show any sign of rodents, all cavities in

the kitchen and bathroom will be filled with wire wool,

cement or mortar or be boarded up

• If specialist treatment is required this will be carried our

before property before empty property repairs are

completed

Pipes and

taps

• Taps should be renewed if badly scaled, defective or

difficult to operate

• All stopcocks and gate valves will be in good working order

• All units will have a stopcock to the cold water mains

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Empty property (voids) policy

Roofs • Any defects within the property caused due to roof

problems will be rectified

Satellite

dishes TV

aerial, and

• All satellite dishes will be removed from the externals of the

property and all associated cables removed within the

property and any damage repaired

radio aerials.

Shared areas • No specific works will be carried out to the communal

shared areas but will be free from materials and debris and

will be cleared down upon completion of the void works

• All health and safety boards will be displayed for public

viewing

• We will provide appropriate notification of ongoing work and

ensure that disturbance is minimised to residents

Toilets • Toilets and connectors must be inspected for leaks and

secure fixings

• Flush system must be checked for correct operation and

leaks

• Toilet seat will be renewed where required

Walls and

ceilings

• All plasterwork will be good quality and any badly cracked

or blown plaster will be repaired

• All fastenings, plugs, fittings and stickers removed and any

holes filled and rubbed down to a smooth finish

• All exposed nails removed and holes filled.

• Fungal growth will be cleaned

• Small areas of loose wall paper re-stuck, large areas of

loose wall paper will be stripped

• Any minor cracks 3mm or less should be filled in

preparation for re-decoration by incoming resident

• Major cracks that are larger than normal indicating

structural movement need to be investigated

• All polystyrene tiles must be removed and the resulting

damage from adhesive remains should be repaired

Windows • All windows to fit their frames and open and close with

reasonable tolerance

• All glazing to be intact, 6mm laminated safety glass will be

used where required to meet building regulations

• All broken or cracked glazing will be replaced, taking into

account the requirements of the building regulations

relating to the use of safety glass

• Where replacement glazing needs to be ordered, any

openings will be made secure

• All windows above ground floor should have restrictor

devices fitted where there are none to ensure they

can not open more than 150mm.

Viridian

• Cookers and fridges will be tested to ensure they are

working properly and are safe to use.

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Empty property (voids) policy

owned

fridges and

cookers

Furnished

hostel

accommodat

ion

• Any faults will be repaired and if the repairs exceed a

reasonable value or repairs are not cost effective the

appliance will be replaced with an energy-efficient model

• Fridges and cookers should not be replaced unless

they are beyond economical repair or can not be

cleaned to a hygienic condition

• All cookers or fridges not owned by Viridian will be

disposed of responsibly

• Any furniture provided in hostels that is damaged will be

replaced

• Any damaged, stained and worn carpets will be replaced

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