Edinburgh Council agrees to improve housing repairs service following complaints

The City of Edinburgh Council has agreed to reassess its housing repairs service, following numerous reports of damp, mould and condensation going untreated in council homes.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 5:22 pm
The motion also makes specific reference to damp, which has been a common cause of complaints among council housing tenants in Edinburgh for some time.

At a meeting of the council’s homelessness and housing committee on Thursday March 18, councillors agreed to instruct officers to produce a report looking at the future of the housing repairs service, and how it can better serve capital tenants.

The accepted motion, put forward by the council’s ruling SNP/Labour coalition, reads: ““This report should include a framework for analysis of our data on repairs to identify where there may be specific issues relating to communication, customer engagement and interaction, completion of works, and complaints.”

The motion also makes specific reference to damp, which has been a common cause of complaints among council housing tenants in Edinburgh for some time.

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The motion calls on council officers to produce a second report, which would specifically outline the problems with dealing with damp and mould, and to set out a process for dealing with these issues.

Speaking at the meeting of the homelessness and housing committee, Portobello and Craigmillar councillor, and SNP convener of the committee, Kate Campbell, said: “It’s been a very difficult year, for many of our service areas, and for many of our staff, but I think in repairs it’s been especially challenging.

“I don’t in anyway want to take away from has been a brilliant effort, particularly from our frontline staff, who have put themselves and their families at risk by going to do repairs during the very dangerous parts of the pandemic,

“I think it’s really important that we acknowledge that and the challenges that they have faced.

“But we also need to acknowledge that we’ve had a few reports coming through to us around some issues with damp, and mould and condensation, and I think there are probably ways we can strengthen our processes around that, to make sure that we are looking at a repair from start to finish.

“Through the housing service improvement plan, we’ve looked at the rolling out of Total Mobile, which I think has made some quite significant improvements, and I think it’s important to take some time to look at how we’re using that new technology and making sure we’re using it as efficiently as possible.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Almond, Kevin Lang, added: “I really welcome this motion, I’m sure the other Almond councillors will also agree, as at Muirhouse in our ward there’s been some very particular issues.

“Officials have worked really hard in difficult circumstances, but I think it is also true, in some instances, tenants who have also had a very hard year, have not had the service that all of us on the committee think they should have had.

“I think it’s important for us on the committee to have the chance to look at this in more depth and scrutinise it.

“You mentioned damp - and I’ve seen some images in properties in my ward that have been really quite shocking - so I think this motion and report are very welcome and very timely.”

Last month, it was revealed that an Edinburgh council tenant had spent more than a year trying to get the damp in his house fixed – despite being diagnosed with breathing difficulties soon after the mould developed.

Lee Noble, of Oxgangs Crescent, had been living with black mould and constantly damp conditions in his lounge and bedroom since January 2020, when he first contacted Edinburgh City Council for help.

Around the time the mould first developed, Lee was also diagnosed with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which make him particularly vulnerable to serious illness were he to contract coronavirus.

Lee, who lives with his wife Gillian, said the cost of heating his flat went up by hundreds of pounds since the problems started, and the council only began to take his case seriously after contacting the press.

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