Tenants promised multi-million pound improvement package

COUNCIL house tenants have been promised a multi-million pound package of improvement works in the coming year – after a study found hundreds of rented homes require major refurbishment to get them up to a government-set standard.

A total of £18.6m will be set aside for 2024/25 following a study carried out by Berneslai Homes, the organisation responsible for the council’s 18,000-strong housing stock.

The Chronicle can reveal that ‘major adaptations’ are needed – predominantly relating to kitchens, bathrooms and roofs – with 438 properties requiring work to lift them up to a suitable standard.

According to a report which assesses the expected costs, some tenants’ homes could have up to £10,000 spent.

Up to 200 properties require ‘urgent’ work on heating, with 130 in need of ‘extensive structural’ repairs.

Locations set to be targeted include Kendray, Smithies, Royston, Staincross, Birdwell, Goldthorpe, Bolton-upon-Dearne and Hoyland.

Three high-rise tower blocks – Buckley, Britannia and Albion House – have also been allocated £250,000 after surveys found wall ties, which effectively glue together brickwork and internal construction, required replacing.

“The council first met the ‘Decent Homes Standard’ for all its stock in December 2010, having delivered a £300m programme between 2004 and 2010 to achieve this,” the report said.

“Schemes proposed within the 2024/25 programme are addresses that were last improved during the early years of the previous programme pre-2010.

“The scope of works from the database shows that such elements as PVCu windows and doors, full rewires and central heating distribution systems will be unlikely to require replacement, but a high proportion of kitchens, bathrooms, roofs and central heating boilers are likely to require replacement.

“It has been identified that the stock has a high number of kitchens and bathrooms that were fitted during that period that are now nearing the end of their 20 and 30-year life cycles.

“Following analysis and physical surveys, 200 kitchens and bathrooms will be replaced in the 2024/25 programme.

“Officers are now seeing, via the asset management database, and through stock condition surveys, that there are an increasing number of full roofs needing replacement within the next five years.

“Berneslai Homes will thus be including a roofing replacement to 200 properties.

“These stock condition surveys ensure we have full visibility of the housing stock, providing data and accuracy.”

As well as the planned-for work, homes’ adaptations for disabled tenants will also pick up pace, with more than £3m being set aside for 289 properties.

A further £3m will fund work on ‘void’ homes – long-term empty properties – which require a host of improvements in order for them to come back to the market.

“The proposed budget also covers significant conversions to the council’s properties where tenants have specific needs that cannot be met through this work,” the report added.

“Where appropriate, the proposed budget is also used to build a small number of extensions to properties where tenants cannot be re-housed to more suitable accommodation.

“Officers are working closely with Berneslai Homes to continue to align the new build and acquisition programmes to best meet the needs of our tenants, including where that need might be a purpose-built or adapted unit on a council build scheme.

“This often enables the tenant and their family to be suitably housed, without compromise, and makes best use of resources in the longer term.”

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