Housing bosses ‘letting down’ Edinburgh council tenants over repairs

Housing chiefs have been accused of “letting down tenants” after it was revealed there were more than 3,700 outstanding repairs for council homes.

Monday, 6th May 2019, 6:00 am
Edinburgh City Council Headquarters, in Market Street. Picture: TSPL

City council figures have shown requests from tenants for repairs are at a three-year high. In 2018/19, the authority was flooded with 101,669 requests for repair work –  an increase of more than 10 per cent from the previous year.

The council is also falling below its own performance targets for responding to tenants and dealing with repairs.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Kevin Lang has called on SNP housing and economy convener, Councillor Kate Campbell, to improve the situation.

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Cllr Lang said: “SNP and Labour councillors are letting down tenants. The new figures show rising numbers of complaints and a failure by the council to carry out essential repair work on time.

“From my own ward, I know people feel their requests for essential repairs go into a big black hole. Too often, tenants are having to chase up housing officers and struggle to get a clear idea as to when repair work will be carried out.

“With all the focus on building new council housing, existing tenants feel forgotten. We cannot leave them feeling as second class citizens. They deserve clean, safe and comfortable homes to live in.”

From April 2018 to February 2019, only 80 per cent of initial appointments took place within a five-day window, against a  92 per cent target. In the same time, only 87 per cent of appointments were kept amid a 99 per cent target.

The council will spend £34m on improving existing council homes this year as part of a £109m capital programme.

Upgrades to council homes will include installing new kitchens and bathrooms in 600 properties, new heating systems in 1,000 homes, electrical and smoke alarm upgrades in 500 homes and 200 homes will be given new water tanks. Secure door entry and CCTV upgrades will take place at 200 blocks.

Council rents are increasing by two per cent in 2019/20 to, in part, fund the capital programme.

Cllr Campbell pointed to investment and a new repairs service, which will be rolled out in the next few months, as part of the solution helping to improve conditions.

She said: “Getting services right for tenants, particularly repairs, is an absolute priority.

“This year we’re investing £34m in homes. This will include heating and electrical upgrades, new kitchens and bathrooms, new windows and doors, energy efficiency work and door entries. We’ll also be carrying out some major structural work like renewing roofs and cladding on buildings, and investing in the wider estate.

“Most importantly, we’re involving tenants in designing a new repairs and maintenance service and this will be introduced from early this summer.  In the short-term this is about improving communication – using automation for appointments and stock control, duty housing officers in locality offices and having someone from the repairs team in the contact centre so that we’re getting repairs right first time.”