On this page we have provided information for you regarding some issues relating to our housing service.
Now, a report has been issued by East Suffolk Council which provides detailed information about how we are addressing matters which led to a Regulatory Notice being issued by the Regulator for breaching the standards.
It also provides an update on the significant amount of progress officers have made, since then, in relation to Rent Setting, and the Health, Safety and Compliance management of our properties.
The Housing Service has carried out a significant piece of work to review compliance of the stock and develop work programmes and contracts to ensure the properties are compliant and remain compliant.
Levels of compliance are reviewed monthly, and we are pleased to advise that at the end of December East Suffolk’s Housing Stock was 100% compliant for Asbestos Safety, Fire Safety, Lift Safety and Water Safety. Gas Safety was at 99.97% with properties we were unable to access now with our in-house legal team. Finally, East Suffolk was 97.67% compliant with electrical regulations. This will be 100% by the end of the financial year, as there is a work programme in place, which is making great progress.
The rents issue has been tougher to fully resolve due to the difference in policy and guidance documents which needed to be considered for different years.
A thorough, forensic audit has been conducted, which has reviewed around 9000 tenancies from 2010 to the present day. As a result, all current tenants rent levels will be reset at the end of the financial year and, from April, we are confident that all tenants will be paying the correct rent levels.
Once we have implemented the correct rent levels, officers will then begin the refund process. Initially, current tenants will receive a letter outlining the impact any incorrect charges have had on them and the process for repayment.
Once the current tenants have been refunded, officers will then start the process of contacting former tenants.
We take our responsibility as a landlord very seriously and over the last four months we have been carrying out an in-depth review to ensure we provide a good quality, cost-effective service, which delivers value for money for you, our tenants. Unfortunately, some aspects of the service are not meeting the standards we expect and therefore we are taking immediate action to address these issues.
We will continue to refresh and update this page. However, if you have a question which you do not think is covered here please get in touch with us, and we will respond within five working days.
The Social Housing Regulator has served notice on East Suffolk Council for breaching its Home and Rent Standards. The regulator will now monitor East Suffolk Council and meet with us on a monthly basis to ensure we make the necessary improvements and changes to be in line with their Home and Rent Standard. They will also want to be confident that all the improvements and changes we make will be permanent and ensure we are in line with their standards for the long-term future. When they are satisfied with this the regulatory notices will be removed.
We have looked at all aspects of health and safety related to our properties, including fire risk assessments, asbestos management, water safety, gas and electrical safety as well as the management and maintenance of lifting equipment including lifts and stairlifts. This review has shown us that the data we hold is not as comprehensive and robust as it should be, so we are now arranging for additional inspections to be carried out, to ensure we hold correct data, which will enable us to manage our properties better.
We have no reason to believe that any properties are not safe. If any additional surveys are required of your property, we will write to you explaining what surveys are required and who will be conducting them.
We have also conducted a review of how we set our rental charges, to ensure we meet the requirements set out in the 'Rent Standard'. This is a policy which, as Registered Providers, we must follow when setting rent. The review has identified that the guidance may previously have been misinterpreted and as a result, some tenants who moved in after 2014, may have incorrectly been charged a higher rent.
We have commenced a detailed audit of every tenancy, going back to 2014. This is expected to take at least 4 months to complete. Once it is completed, we will write to every tenant advising whether or not they have been affected.
We will ask an external auditor to check the rent levels for every tenancy from 2014/15 to the present day. They will assess whether any incorrect charges have been applied and if they have, they will also be able to calculate the level of overpayments made.
We will write to all current tenants confirming whether you have been affected or not. We will also write to any former tenants who have been affected. If you have been affected, we will explain how much money you have overpaid and how we will be administering refunds.
We will be working with the Regulator of Social Housing and independent external consultants as well as seeking expert legal advice. We are confident, once this work is complete and has been robustly checked, that your new rent and credit on your account will be accurate.
Not all tenancies will be affected by this issue and a freeze now, which we would then need to be lifted, would add extra complication to an already detailed process. The current guidance allows for rent increases to take place and, to repeat, any overcharging will be identified by the auditors and repaid.
No, you should continue to pay your rent as normal. We do not know who has been affected yet. If you are struggling financially, please reach out to your rent officer who can support you with a payment plan and a referral to our Financial Inclusion Officer.
All former tenancies will be part of the full audit. If you were previously a tenant of the council, or our predecessor (Waveney District Council) please contact us using our online Housing 2022 enquiry form, providing your name, your previous address, and a correspondence address for where you live now. This will ensure we can send you a letter when the audit has been completed, if you are affected.
No, our gypsy and traveller site is not affected by these errors.
As a current leaseholder you are not affected by this but if you previously held a tenancy with East Suffolk Council, please follow the guidance for former tenants above.
Shared owners are not affected by this.
No, you are not affected by this.