09 May 2024

New guidance for rethinking repairs and maintenance published

One year on from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and National Housing Federation (NHF) Better Social Housing Review (BSHR) action plan a cross sector working group has launched 12 guiding principles for rethinking repairs and maintenance services.

The best practice group, established by CIH, was formed of representatives from registered social landlords, tenant representative bodies, equality and diversity bodies, and procurement and contracting experts. The cohort were brought together as part of the BSHR action plan response to the Review recommendation which stated “Housing associations should partner with residents, contractors and frontline staff to develop and apply new standards defining what an excellent maintenance and repairs process looks like”.

Based on research with residents, social landlords, and wider stakeholders, the group initially shared examples and case studies of how landlords can consult with their residents, staff, and contractors. The project has now progressed, with the publication, today, of twelve guiding principles that social landlords should use to inform and improve the co-design and delivery of repairs and maintenance services with their residents and staff.

The principles are grouped into six themes, covering:

  • Improving cultures and behaviours
  • Inclusivity and tackling discrimination
  • Structuring your engagement
  • Involving colleagues
  • Understanding your performance
  • Closing the loop.

The guidance has been designed to be used in two ways. Landlords looking to implement the BSHR recommendation can follow the principles from beginning to end, starting with a re-examination of their culture and how inclusive their engagement and scrutiny processes are. Alternatively, landlords that are already undertaking reviews of their repairs and maintenance services can self-assess against the principles to understand which parts of the guidance are most helpful to their ongoing work. Throughout the guidance, there are examples of good practice and case studies from across the social housing sector that landlords can adopt.

Liane Sheppard, director of property services at LiveWest and a member of the best practice group commented:

"It has been a fantastic opportunity for LiveWest and our customer scrutiny group, InFocus, to be involved in the RERAM group, sharing our knowledge, experience and testing the principles in practice. It is so important that the sector has tools and resources to draw upon, to ensure customers have a great repairs service as this is what we all strive for.

“Hopefully anyone reading this will find nuggets of inspiration for new processes or practices they can adopt. It is a fantastic, and easy to use, resource.”

The best practice in repairs and maintenance group included the support of the NFA , ARCH and LGA, to incorporate the perspectives of local authorities and ALMOs, and to ensure that the work of the group is relevant for, and shared appropriately with, the social housing sector as a whole. The guidance also includes examples of good practice and recommendations for working more effectively with repairs and maintenance contractors and service providers.

James Prestwich, director of policy and external affairs at CIH, chaired the group. He commented:

“It has been fantastic to work with bodies from across the housing sector, including the NFA, ARCH, LGA, and TPAS to unpack one of the key recommendations of the Better Social Housing Review. Publishing this work one year on from the joint action plan, which CIH and NHF developed in response to the Review shows how committed we are as a sector to making sure we deliver excellent repairs and maintenance services.”

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, added:

“One year on from the launch of the Better Social Housing Review action plan, the sector remains committed to meeting its key recommendations. Everyone living in a housing association home should expect an excellent standard of repairs and maintenance services. These guiding principles developed by CIH and the working group are an invaluable resource that will help ensure this.”

Resources and guidance for rethinking repairs and maintenance services

The guiding principles, case studies and full report are available as an open resource on our website. 

The full web address is: https://www.cih.org/policy/campaigns/better-social-housing-review/rethinking-repairs-and-maintenance

About The Better Social Housing Review

In June 2022, the Better Social Housing Review (BSHR) was set up by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), to independently examine ways to improve the quality of social housing provision in England.

The aim of the review was to examine existing issues - physical, cultural, and environmental - and make recommendations to help ensure that, going forwards, all social housing is fit for tenants to live and thrive in. The panel published their findings and recommendations in December 2022.

CIH and NHF welcomed the Review’s findings and consequently published an action plan in May 2023 to help the sector implement the recommendations. The organisations published a year on report in December 2023, highlighting the work the organisations have done so far to support members, outlining the progress made and the impact it’s already having across England.