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Nottingham city council homes need £600,000 of urgent mould and fire safety repars

£600,000 is being spent on urgent damp and fire safety works in Nottingham council homes.

The money will also be spent on housing repair work and structural improvements amid an increasing number of disrepair claims.

Nottingham City Homes was brought back under the full control of Nottingham City Council in April last year, and the investment on urgent work is planned following the introduction of new legislation.

New fire safety regulations came into force in January last year, as part of recommendations made in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry report, while there has been a crackdown on damp and mould under new legislation following the death of Awaab Ishak.

The two-year-old died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould in his Rochdale council home, prompting a review into how landlords respond to the problem.

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  • Read more: Residents in desperate fight against mould and damp in Nottinghamshire council homes

Social landlords will be required to investigate and fix problems with mould within strict time limits, and additional powers will be given to the Housing Ombudsman in amendments to the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill.

£399,000 will be paid to the Lovell Partnership to deliver “Fire safety works, damp and mould works, disrepair works and structural works”.

Nottingham city centre drone 2023 Strictly copyright © 2023
Nottingham city centre drone 2023
Strictly copyright © 2023

The same amount will also be awarded to the United Living Group for the works.

They are “classed as urgent and should not be unduly delayed,” documents add.

Lovell has been behind council home projects in Bestwood, while United Living was recently contracted to deliver housing in Trent Lane.

The money for the capital works will come from the council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA), which is made up of council rent payers’ money.

According to a 30-year HRA business plan document, published this year, fire safety works and disrepair claims will have a significant impact on planned spending.

Repairs and maintenance costs have increased substantially largely due to inflation.

It is assumed that for 2024/25, repairs and maintenance inflation will increase by 15 per cent but will reduce to three per cent in subsequent years.

The costs of materials have risen 43 per cent in two years, while labour costs are up by nearly 10 per cent, the documents say.

As a result a rent and service charge increase was recently announced and approved during an Executive Board meeting on February 13.

Rents for council homes will rise by 7.7 per cent from April 2024, alongside a 6.7 per cent increase in service charges and a seven per cent increase in garage rents.

“The rent and service charge increases are necessary to ensure the long-term
sustainability of the HRA budget and the investment needed to maintain
properties to required regulatory standards,” documents add.

“The current level of disrepair claims are a reflection of underinvestment in the past and will require a substantial amount of investment in the future.”

Approval was also recently given so the authority could purchase 60 former council houses that have been previously purchased under the Right To Buy scheme.

The authority will buy the properties with money from both the HRA, and funds from the receipt of the sale of council houses received from the Government.

Cllr Jay Hayes (Lab) the housing portfolio holder, said: “The investment in these homes will allow us to reduce the number of people on the waiting list and help increase the number of council homes we can let at rents people can afford across Nottingham.”

• Read more | Nottingham school forced to close for the day because of water supply failure

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