While at Plastic Surgeon we have been seeing a steady increase in the amount of work coming from registered social landlords – or RSLs as they are widely known – in terms of both responsive and planned maintenance, one piece of news from Government this past week implies we could soon be receiving just as many calls from private landlords.
The private rented sector has long been viewed as the poor relation in terms of the attention paid to the condition of property and the plight of its tenants, as successive governments have poured money into improving public housing. And New Labour’s much vaunted Decent Homes programme served to greatly magnify this ‘accommodation apartheid’.
So as councils and housing associations updated kitchens and bathrooms, as well as tackling tasks such as window replacement, Plastic Surgeon stepped in to carry out all the snagging work: repairing chips in sinks, baths and basins, or gouges in worktops, and taking twists out of UPVC frames. Meanwhile tenants in privately owned properties could generally only look on in envy.
In Parliament, though, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne made the shock announcement that as of April 2018, properties with an Energy Performance Certificate of less than ‘E’ would no longer be eligible for rented occupation. It is estimated that some 700,000 dwellings will require significant improvement if they are to carry on being let; though obviously this will mean far fewer people living in fuel poverty, and a corresponding drop in carbon emissions. And it is hoped that the owners of the F and G homes will therefore take up the grant funding available trough the Coalition’s Green Deal, where energy savings can be paid for out of the money saved through reduced fuel bills.
Mr Huhne said: “Our proposals provide a voice for tenants living in poorly insulated, draughty homes. The Green Deal is a win-win opportunity for landlords by removing the upfront cost of work to upgrade the property; making it cheaper to run, more environmentally friendly and ultimately more attractive to rent.
“For those landlords who don’t take up the Green Deal, then we will get tough so that by 2018 the poorest performing rented housing stock is brought up to a decent standard.” [sic]
Of course a lot of the tasks our finishers get involved with are cosmetic repairs to internal fixtures and fittings, which have absolutely no bearing on energy performance. However, once a multi-billion series of contracts get underway installing cavity wall insulation, thermal dry-lining, high efficiency heating systems, solar panels, and other renewable technologies, there is almost certain to be accidental damage that results on most jobs. As the building site vernacular puts it: “You’re going to get snags”.
And as more contractors, consultants and property owners come to realize about the cost effective nature of the repair service that Plastic Surgeon provides, we are certain our involvement can only grow.
Private sector landlords, who don’t want to have to pay a penny more than they have to in order make their flats and houses reach level E or above, should give us a call.