Our work

Our work

Here you will find out about planned repairs and improvements to our housing stock and our architectural service.

Planned improvement works

As well as our commitment to providing a high quality repairs and maintenance service for our tenants, Homes for Northumberland continues to invest significant resources into the improvement and modernisation of all of our homes across the county through our capital works programme.

Decent Homes
The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Decent Homes Standard is a minimum standard of housing provision which aims to ensure a minimum standard of housing conditions for all those housed in the public sector.

Homes for Northumberland completed its Decent Homes programme in 2007 and all of our homes now meet the standard.

However, work does not stop there.

Recognising that this may not fully meet tenant’s aspirations Homes for Northumberland have, in consultation with our tenants, developed a Decent Homes Plus Standard, which exceeds the government’s minimum requirements.

We continue to carry out work towards meeting this improved standard.
Improving & modernising your home
Our capital works programme is designed to ensure your home is kept up to date and represents a major capital investment in our properties.

It is customer focused, responsive, reliable and efficient.

We continually monitor the performance of our partner contractors and the quality of our improvement works, including the very important issue of resident’s satisfaction with the completed work.

In 2012, Homes for Northumberland launched its five year, £31 million capital works programme at our annual tenants’ exhibitions in Blyth and Alnwick. 
Our contractors
Homes for Northumberland are enhancing the delivery of their capital investments programme by utilising the expertise of their in house staff to maximise tenant satisfaction.

The work that the in-house team now undertakes comprises electrical rewires, central heating upgrades, kitchen replacements, bathroom replacements and mini modernisations.

By expanding the repairs and maintenance team, Homes for Northumberland has been able to employ a considerable number of skilled local people and to offer many training opportunities in the form of apprenticeships.

Alongside Homes for Northumberland’s repairs and maintenance team we currently work with partner organisations including:
  • MGM Limited ● brickwork and cement render repairs/replacement (incorporating wall tie and lintel replacement where necessary)
  • Hodgson Sayers Limited and John Flowers Limited ● roof replacement
For more information on the various schemes we undertake, please click on the links below:
Helping people with a disability

Chronically sick and disabled person's (CSDP) adaptations

Section 2 of HM Government’s Chronically Sick and Disabled Act 1970 (CSDP) places a duty on local authorities that, where a council resident is disabled, there is provision made for the addition to the property of facilities designed to secure greater safety, comfort and convenience for them within the home.

Therefore when we carry out major improvement works to your home, we take into account any additional needs or requirements you may have.

Where possible, we will adjust our standard designs to cater for the specific needs of individuals with disabilities.

We employ our own occupational therapist who is able to advise and recommend the correct form of adaptations needed.
Energy efficiency

Energy performance certificates (EPCs)

When properties become vacant Homes for Northumberland’s asset management team arrange for consultants to carry out energy performance assessments. These can provide new tenants with energy information regarding their home.

They also provide Homes for Northumberland with a guide to measures we could take to increase the energy efficiency of the property. This could include loft and cavity wall insulation or even external wall insulation.

It may also suggest the use of renewable technology e.g. solar photovoltaic panels or even the use of energy efficient light bulbs to increase the energy efficiency of the building.

Loft and cavity wall insulation

Working in partnership with specialist providers, we upgrade loft insulation to the current recommended depths where necessary.

Working in partnership with specialist providers we monitor the condition of our existing cavity wall insulation and determine whether upgrades are required.

Renewable energy and alternative technologies

As part of Northumberland County Council’s and Homes for Northumberland’s continuing commitment to lowering fuel bills and so reducing the number of our customers experiencing fuel poverty, we have an ongoing programme of solar roof panel installations.

In addition, we have been installing air source heat pumps to properties in off-gas areas, in lieu of gas fuelled condensing combi-boilers as part of our central heating upgrade scheme, since 2011.
Environmental works

How we improve your neighbourhood

In addition to major works to improve your property, Homes for Northumberland also carries out additional work such as creating off-road parking areas, bin storage schemes, driveways and paths and measures to improve the security of your neighbourhood.
Programmed maintenance

When is programmed maintenance on our properties carried out?

Rather than waiting until our properties are in urgent need of repair, wherever possible work will be undertaken in a planned manner based upon ‘just-in-time’ principles. This helps to reduce costs by reducing travelling times for our engineers and tradesmen and achieves economies of scale in ordering materials.

What maintenance is carried out?

  • annual servicing of gas appliances
  • annual servicing of solid fuel appliance
  • annual servicing of air source heat pumps
  • annual servicing of solar panels
  • periodic electrical testing
  • external decoration

How we carry out programmed maintenance

We ensure the effective management and delivery of our planned maintenance programmes by:
  • involving tenants in all aspects of the service
  • ensuring ‘value for money’ is achieved through an effective procurement strategy
  • achieving an appropriate balance between planned and responsive maintenance in line with good practice
  • ensuring that schemes are delivered on time and within budget by effective project management
  • shorter turnaround from design to delivery on-site
Contact us
If you would like any further information regarding these issues/services please contact us as below:

Homes for Northumberland
Civic Centre
Renwick Road
Blyth
Northumberland
NE24 2BX
 
  • Email
  • Telephone: 01670 542 424SMS
  • Text messages: 07950 08 09 08 – Type the word Repairs and then your message
  • RNID Typetalk service: prefix number 18001

Decent Homes

The government introduced its Decent Homes Guidance for Local Authorities and Registered Social Landlords in 2001.

This set a target to ensure that all social housing meets set standards of decency by 2010.

A decent home is one that meets all of the following four criteria:

  • It meets the current statutory minimum standard for housing.
  • Is in a reasonable state of repair.
  • It has reasonably modern facilities and services.
  • It provides a reasonable degree of thermal comfort.
You can view the government’s Decent Homes guidance here.

Homes for Northumberland Decent Homes programme

Homes for Northumberland completed its Decent Homes programme in 2007. All of our homes now meet the standard.

However, work does not stop there as we need to ensure that all our homes continue to meet the Decent Homes Standard.

We continue to carry out improvements, working towards our Decent Homes Plus Standard, which has been developed in consultation with our tenants.

Contact us

If you would like any further information regarding Decent Homes please contact us.

Repairs & improvements

Repairs and maintenance at Homes for Northumberland

The area maintenance managers have a team of directly employed engineers and time-served tradesmen who provide:

  • an all year round repair service for our properties
  • periodic electrical testing
  • regular gas safety testing, as required by law
We aim to provide an excellent repairs and maintenance service to our customers and take pride in keeping your home up to a high standard of repair.

Guidelines for repair priorities

Priority definitions

To ensure we deal with your repair request efficiently we operate a repair prioritisation scheme.

Repair priorities are to be defined as:

Emergency repairs:

Repairs to remedy any unforeseen defect which puts the safety or security of a tenant, or third party, at immediate risk, or which adversely affects the structure of the property.

Emergency repairs will be attended within 24 hours. The emergency situation will be made safe. A full repair will be carried out if possible, otherwise further work will be scheduled.

Examples of an emergency are: complete loss of power to the property, insecure doors or low-level windows, leaking pipes where the leak cannot be contained.

A charge will be applied for all non-emergency call-outs or no access given to repairs operatives.

Routine repairs:

Non-emergency repairs where the defect is not causing an immediate risk to person or property and will be attended by appointment.

Routine repairs will be attended on appointment at a time agreed with the customer and within 30 days of the request.

Examples of routine repairs are: partial loss of power, insecure windows upper level, leaking pipes where the leak can be contained and all minor repairs.

Planned works:

Periodic and planned improvements and repairs to maintain and/or improve the condition of the property. Planned maintenance and improvements will be completed within 90 days of repair request or need identified. 

External works will have a completion date range unless access to property is required, in which case an appointment will be made with the customer.

Internal works will be attended on appointment. Examples of planned works include external painting programmes, and kitchen replacements.

Exceptions:

Completion of external repairs and planned maintenance are weather dependent and these appointments may need to be re-scheduled. Customers will be kept informed of any such arrangements.

Some repairs may be treated with more urgency if the customer or a member of the household is classed as vulnerable or at risk.



 
Customer services centre
Our customer services centre is your first point of contact to report emergencies, faults and requests for repairs.
Tenants' Right to Repair
If we do not repair within a set time, you have the right to arrange your own repair. However, not all repairs qualify under the right-to repair scheme.
Empty property standards
After consulting our customers, we have set service standards for when properties become empty. Our staff will make sure that each property meets these standards before they are re-let.
Decorating your home
Paint packs may be awarded to new tenants moving into empty properties (empty property service standards) or after certain kinds of minor repairs. Paint packs are also available if capital works are undertaken on your home.
For full details, please call us on 01670 542424.
Electrical safety & testing
When you take on a new tenancy, you may see a LET1 sign attached to the electric cupboard. If this is present, please contact us for an appointment.

Periodic electrical testing is also carried out on all Homes for Northumberland properties. You will receive a letter or telephone call to arrange an appointment when yours is due.
Condensation & damp
There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it.
  • If the air gets colder, it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation.
  • If your home is newly built it may be damp because the water used during its construction (for example, in plaster) is still drying out. It may take weeks of heating and ventilation to dry out. Hiring a dehumidifier will help in the worst cases.
However, if you notice any of the following please contact our customer services centre:
  • leaking pipes, wastes or overflows
  • rain seeping through the roof where a tile or slate is missing
  • spilling from a blocked gutter
  • penetrating around window frames
  • leaking through a cracked pipe (these often leave a ‘tide-mark’)
  • rising damp due to a defective damp-course or because there is no damp-course (rising damp only appears in ground floor rooms, and only to a maximum of 1m up a wall)
Carbon monoxide

Heating appliances – the dangers

  • Keeping warm is vital. Unfortunately, heating appliances are one of the most common causes of injury and death in the home.
  • If users don’t follow simple safety rules, heating appliances can kill.

Carbon monoxide is deadly

What is it?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. It can be given off by any appliance that burns fossil fuels such as gas, coal, wood or oil, if they’re not working properly, if the flue is blocked, or if the room is not properly ventilated.

Why is it so dangerous?
Carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and tasteless, which makes it difficult to detect. However its effects are deadly.

What are the main causes of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning are due to inadequate ventilation, or poor maintenance of appliances, blocked chimneys or leaky flues.

Chimneys can become blocked for various reasons. It could be as a result of birds nesting on the chimney, or possible degradation of the flue.

A blocked flue can lead to carbon monoxide leaking into your home, the occupants becoming drowsy, falling asleep, and not waking up again.

Who is most at risk?
Some people mistakenly think that it is only gas heating systems which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. However, it can happen with any fossil fuel, if the system, which includes both the appliance and the flue, is faulty or the room is not properly ventilated. Some people only associate carbon monoxide poisoning with rented accommodation, in fact more people are killed in owner-occupied rather than rented properties.

Look out for the following danger signs:

  1. The windows and doors have been draught-proofed and the permanent ventilation has been blocked up to prevent draughts so that the room is not properly ventilated.
  2. There has been no regular maintenance of the appliance, like cleaning the throat plate monthly, or having the appliance serviced professionally.
  3. The chimney and flue have not been swept for years.
  4. The chimney or flue is blocked – watch out for smoke in the room.
  5. There are soot deposits at the appliance outlet, or sooty stains appear on or just above appliances, regardless of the fuel being burnt.
  6. The fire is difficult to light.
  7. Gas flames that normally burn blue, burn orange or yellow instead.
  8. Coal or wood fires burn slowly or go out.
  9. You develop the following unexplained symptoms: tiredness; drowsiness; headaches; dizziness; chest pains; nausea. 
Carbon monoxide detectors are available from Homes for Northumberland for our tenants. Please contact us for more details. 
Asbestos safety
If your property is more than 15 years old, it is possible that it contains materials made from asbestos.
  • Asbestos fibres are strong and resistant to heat and chemicals.
  • In the past, this led to their use in a wide range of building materials and products.
  • Properties built since the mid-1980s are very unlikely to contain asbestos in the fabric of the building.
  • Properties built after 1990 are extremely unlikely to contain asbestos anywhere in the building.
  • Asbestos cement has been widely used as a cladding material and can still be found in garages and sheds.
Rechargeable repairs
You are required to conduct your tenancy in a tenant-like manner, taking reasonable care of your home both inside and out, carrying out some basic routine maintenance. You are required to:
  • report any repairs as they arise to help minimise any damage that could get worse if unattended
  • allow us to get repairs done as quickly as possible
Following consultation with tenants a definitive list of rechargable repairs has been established, which identifies tenants' responsibilities as follows:
  • repairing minor plaster cracks
  • internal decoration
  • TV aerials (except communal aerials)
  • loose screws on cupboards, windows, doors or gate furniture
  • washing machine installation
  • curtain rails
  • gaining entry to the property
  • external door locks
  • additional household keys
  • re-glazing windows
  • shower curtains and poles
  • laminate flooring
  • loose floor coverings and carpets
  • bolts or locks to outhouses or garden gates
  • coat rails or hooks
  • plugs and fuses for electrical appliances
  • light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and starters
  • batteries for smoke detectors
  • clothes posts
  • safety chains
  • doorbells
  • sink and bath plugs and chains

Right to Repair

Here you will find out how the right to repair scheme works.

Stage one - HFN works
You must give us the opportunity to complete the work within the stated time.
Stage two - second contractor
If the repair has not been completed in the time given, you can ask us to get a second contractor to do the work. 

Unless there is a good reason why the work has not been done, we will order the work with the second contractor and send you a copy of the order.

The second contractor will have the same time to complete the repair.
Stage three – compensation
If the repair is still not completed in time, please contact the customer services centre on 01670 542424. 

Unless there is a good reason why the repair was not done, for example you did not keep your appointment you will be entitled to £10 compensation. 

For every extra day you wait you will get another £2, up to a maximum of £50.

If you owe us money, we will take away the amount you owe from your compensation.
Stage four – your right to repair
If the second contractor fails to do the work in time without good reason such as you did not keep your appointment, then you can get the work done yourself up to a cost of £250 and send us the bill.

This is known as the right to repair. 

Please note this applies to qualifying repairs only.
Qualifying repairs
Repair type Response time (days)
Total loss of electric power (HfN responsibility) 1
Partial loss of electric power 3
Unsafe electrical fitting 1
Total loss of water supply (HfN responsibility) 1
Partial loss of water supply 3
Total or partial loss of gas supply (HfN responsibility) 1
Blocked flue to open fire or boiler 1
No heating or hot water 1 Nov–30 Apr 1
No heating or hot water 1 May–31 Oct 3
Blocked/leaking foul drain, soil stack, toilet 1
Toilet not flushing (only one toilet in the home) 1
Blocked sink, bath or basin 3
Tap that cannot be turned off 3
Leaking from water pipe, tank or cistern 1
Leaking roof 7
Insecure external window, door or lock 1
Loose or detached banister or hand rail 3
Rotten timber flooring or stair tread 7
Door entry phone not working 7