Due to the unprecedented amount of disrepair claims being filed against social landlords, we ran a hugely popular event last month – focusing firstly on how to get your house in order to ensure you remain on the front foot to avoid being subject to disrepair claims. And secondly how to mitigate or defend claims if you do receive them. This is a summary of the key takeaways from the event.

Phil Pemberton, Director of Assets at the Riverside Group talked us through how Riverside have moved their approach to disrepair issues from reactive to proactive. To start with he posed delegates the following questions:

• Do you know how many cases you have?
• Do you have enough resources?
• How long is it taking to address and clear your claims?
• What are your costs?
• Who’s responsible for case management?
• Who’s managing your panel solicitors?
• Does your board get visibility of the risks and how you are dealing with it?

The majority of cases they are dealing with related to issues around damp, mould and condensation. Their approach involved the following:
• Creating a dedicated disrepair team
• Ensuring there was clear accountability across the organisation
• Employing dedicated contracting teams
• Utilising internal legal support
• Undertaking case management reviews monthly
• Creating a robust set of internal KPI’s
• Creating regional and national benchmarking groups

To sum up, Phil provided delegates with this advice
• Make sure you have both a damp and mould policy and a ventilation strategy
• Be clear on specifications and the right solution
• Make sure you have whole Group (organisation) approach
• Provide training for all frontline staff — competency is a key issue – and empower them to take action
• Make effective diagnosis’s
• Consider the benefits of remote monitoring
• Collect and understand your data
• Ensure you have adequate budget provision
• ‘Make every visit count’- ‘Don’t walk on by’

Next up, we heard from the team at Eastlight Community Homes – talking about their Home MOT and the importance of evidence in defending disrepair claims…