Housing sector

Inside Housing – Insight – Habitat Week: the sector takes stock after a new fire in a skyscraper

A weekly roundup of the most important headlines for housing professionals

A firefighter tackles the Relay Building blaze in Aldgate East (Picture: Alamy)

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A weekly roundup of the most important headlines for #UKhousing housing professionals

Good afternoon.

When footage of a fire broke out on one of the highest floors of the Relay Building in Aldgate East, you can’t help but expect the worst. Fortunately, despite over 60 people being evacuated from the building and huge glass panels falling onto the street below, no one was injured.

However, it is a stark reminder of how frightening a high-rise fire can be and why it is so important to ensure that buildings are as safe as possible.

Wednesday, Inside the housing was the first to announce that a number of apartments in the building were managed by Network Homes.

Network was the anchor tenant of Houblon Apartments in the block, managing nearly 75 apartments over five floors. As reflected in its statement, Network is a tenant and “the overall responsibility for the building rests with the free owner.”

This is a position that a number of housing associations find themselves in after reclaiming Section 106 homes, and it is difficult to manage.

Although it seems to many residents that housing associations are responsible for the security of a building, in reality these organizations – as tenants – may be in a similar position to residents and have less control over fire safety and a number of other areas of housing management.

It’s something the Housing Ombudsman will look at in one of its Spotlight Reports later this year and it’s a key issue facing the sector.

yesterday saw Inside the housing resolutely emphasize the issue of exempt housing. The supported housing sub-sector has proliferated in areas such as Birmingham in recent years and, as we revealed yesterday, a number of providers have toyed with the system.

In a leaked government report obtained by Inside the housing, he revealed that some “concerned suppliers” deliberately falsify information or attempt to conceal profits in order to support certain claims or charge exorbitant rents. The analysis of the full report is available here.

Exempt housing is a huge blind spot in government regulation of the housing sector and the lack of checks and balances means that many providers can continue to operate and receive higher rates of largely unchecked housing benefit.

More importantly, it means that the most vulnerable have to live in poor quality housing with substandard levels of support, while these providers take advantage.

The back-and-forth in building security continues, with a number of stories this week covering the crisis.

On Monday, Housing Secretary Michael Gove set a new ultimatum deadline for homebuilders to agree to a fully funded plan to fix every building in the country with unsafe coating. Builders will now have to submit their plans by the end of March or risk having legislation imposed on them, Mr Gove said.

This morning, the MPs’ Upgrading, Housing and Communities Committee released a report calling for, among other things, social tenants to be protected against rising building security costs, as well as development plans of social housing.

And with April’s rent rise fast approaching, Grainne Cuffe has looked at Scottish councils’ rent increase plans for shareholdings, finding that the majority are avoiding forcing the maximum increase on tenants as the rising cost of living is starting to bite. .

Jack Simpson, editor

quote of the week

“The HRA’s historic illegal expenditures that came to light last December and which led the council to issue statutory opinions highlight these difficulties. While I note your assessment that the Board is taking the necessary steps to rectify the situation and that this issue relates to historical accounting practices, it remains of serious concern. »

Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch’s assessment of Nottingham City Council’s progress following the discovery of illegal use of funds from its Housing Revenue Account

Statistics of the week

According to the Chartered Institute of Housing’s UK Housing Review, a “conservative estimate” would indicate that up to 40% (1.1 million) of homes sold through the right to buy are now privately let.

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