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Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations & Modifications Policy

Purpose and Objective

The purpose of this document is to explain the policy for Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations and Modifications. This includes social housing, affordable housing, and transitional housing.

Scope

  1. This policy applies to all tenancies managed by Housing Plus.
  2. This policy describes the organisation’s objectives and policies regarding Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations and Modifications.

References

Housing Plus will manage tenancies in accordance with:

1)     Residential Tenancies Act and Regulations.

2)     The terms of the residential tenancy agreement.

3)     Housing Plus policies.

Both the tenant and Housing Plus have rights and obligations under the above Act, the residential tenancy agreement and Housing Plus policies.

Definitions

Term: Tenancy Agreement

Definition: The Residential Tenancies Act 2010(NSW) (the RT Act 2010) defines a residential tenancy agreement as ‘an agreement under which a person grants to another person for value a right of occupation of residential premises for the purpose of use as a residence’ (section 13(1)).

Term: Fixed Term Agreement

Definition: A fixed term agreement means a residential tenancy agreement for a tenancy for a fixed term.

Term: Transitional Housing

Definition: Transitional housing is interim accommodation (generally from three months up to eighteen months) that may be provided for people exiting or transitioning from crisis accommodation.

Responsibilities

Executive

  • Establish policy objectives

Management

  • Develops policies and procedures to achieve policy objectives
  • Coordinates and implements policy for Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations and Modifications
  • Oversees training and ensures adoption by all employees responsible for Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations and Modifications
  • Reviews policy and procedure on biannual basis to ensure compliance with legislation and adopts accordingly

Employee responsibilities

  • Understand and comply with Housing Plus policies regarding Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations and Modifications

Principles

In managing all Repairs, Maintenance, Alterations and Modifications, Housing Plus will endeavour to ensure:

  1. Compliance with the legal requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act, the Home Building Act, the Disability Discrimination Act and other relevant laws and codes
  2. Compliance with the Community Housing Asset Standards
  3. We maximise the useful life of our housing stock
  4. We provide our Tenants with homes that are safe, comfortable, in good repair and of an acceptable and appropriate standard
  5. We have a repairs service that is efficient, effective, reliable and timely
  6. That contractors are licensed, insured and provide a prompt, and value for money service
  7. We minimise our spending on responsive repairs and maximise spending on planned and preventative maintenance
  8. We can secure the best contractors and achieve value for money
  9. That contractors are sensitive and responsive to Social Housing Tenants
  10. To monitor our repairs and maintenance service and make improvements and fix problems with the service where required
  11. To continually monitor leasehold repairs and maintenance requests to ensure owners/agents maintain properties in a condition which meets our standards
  12. To debit the Tenant and/or ex Tenant for the costs incurred for repairing any damage caused by the Tenant or any person legally present at the premises.

Policy

Housing Plus will ensure that its properties are well maintained and serviced. An Asset Management Plan is set in place, with attention being given to responsive repairs, planned maintenance, cyclical maintenance, safety and security issues, structural issues and ongoing viability of the property.

Maintenance and Home Modifications

Housing Plus provides planned maintenance services to keep its properties in good condition and to ensure consistent maintenance standards across the state. The Repairs Hotline is the single point of contact for all maintenance issues. Although most maintenance work is carried out using a planned program of works, in certain situations, maintenance will be responded to more quickly.

Home Modifications

Tenants who have an identified need may have their property modified. For example, they may need grip rails in the bathroom or ramp access for a wheelchair.

If it is not economically viable for the property to be modified, or the layout of the home prohibits the required modifications, tenants may be relocated.

Alterations to a Home

Tenants may want to make changes and alterations to their property. These changes could be major alterations or minor alterations.

Tenants may make minor alterations to their property without getting Housing Plus written permission, provided that no Headleasing or Strata Title restrictions apply.

Minor alterations examples: Major alterations examples:
·        Installing a picture hook

·        Installing child safety locks

·        Installing telephones.

·        Installing a TV antenna

·        Home modifications

·        Painting a dwelling

·        Building a carport or garage

·        Building a pergola

·        Installing a rainwater tank

·        Installing a swimming pool (will not be approved)

·        Installing personal mobility equipment

Tenants may make major alterations to their property by getting Housing Plus’ ‘in principle’ approval before seeking council approval (where relevant), including confirmation that no Headleasing or Strata Title restrictions apply.

Where council approval is required, providing Housing Plus with a copy of council’s approval for the alterations.

Reporting Repairs

Tenants must to report any repairs immediately to Housing Plus using one of the methods outlined in this Policy. The Repairs Hotline is the central point of contact for managing property repairs.  All Tenants will be provided, when possible, with the Repairs Fact Sheet which outlines what to do if repairs or maintenance are required.

Housing Plus operates a 24/7 repairs service to its tenants, during office hours the preferred Tenant reporting methods apply, outside office hours, the call will be diverted to our after hour’s service, who will triage all calls and expedite the Emergency requests. All calls received by this service will be logged and emailed to Housing Plus on the next available day.

For glazing repairs that occur out of office hours the Out of Hours Service will ask the Tenant if they can make the area safe, if they cannot a contractor will be tasked to make the broken glazing area safe. A work order will be created to replace the glazing on the next working day.

Options for reporting a repair

1)     By Phone on 1300 435 144 – In most cases this will allow the Customer Service Team to discuss the repair and confirm all necessary details at time of first report.

2)     Online at www.housingplus.com.au – Our website will include a link to “report a repair” which will open a pro-forma report containing mandatory fields. The reports will be automatically sent via email to the Customer Service Team who will confirm all details and action accordingly.

3)     By email to repairs@housingplus.com.au – This mailbox will be monitored by the Customer Service Team. Tenants should be advised to include all relevant detail.

4)     By Mail to any branch office

Repair requests not reported via the 1300 number outside of work hours may not be processed until the following work day. Emergency repair reports should only be made via the 1300 number.

Tenant Responsibilities

Tenants are responsible for intentional and accidental damage caused by themselves, household members and visitors

The Residential Tenancy Act requires a Tenant to notify Housing Plus of damage to the premises, whether or not they fix it themselves, and signs of maintenance problems that could get worse. Tenants are responsible for any damage caused by themselves or their visitors, whether or not this damage is caused on purpose or by reckless behaviour. If the Tenant arranges for damage to be repaired it must be to a professional standard by a skilled tradesperson. Failure to carry out the works to an acceptable standard may incur an additional Tenant charge to make good should Housing Plus assign its contractors to the works.

In cases where the Tenant agrees that damage has been caused by them or others at the premises, Housing Plus will agree to have the repairs carried out and the Tenancy Relations Officer will arrange for the Tenant to pay off the cost of such repairs by way of a signed agreement.

Bond may be held for damage/repairs at the end of a tenancy (according to legislation) if there are any outstanding amounts for work done on their behalf as a result of Tenant damage or negligence.

Pest Control

Housing Plus will be responsible for pest control within the first 4 weeks of tenancy commencement, including Cockroaches, ants, fleas, rats, mice and spiders. Tenants are responsible for pest control after 4 weeks.

Responsive Maintenance

Housing Plus operates a Centralised Repairs Service. Responsive Maintenance is managed according to the following three categories:

  1. Emergency
  2. Urgent
  3. Routine

The category will be determined according to HNSW scoping principles wherein safety, function and appearance are the determining criteria as well as Housing Plus own definitions contained in this policy.

Maintenance will be carried out more quickly when:

  1. There is an immediate threat of danger due to health, safety or security risks.
  2. There is a threat to the safety or security of the tenant.
  3. Essential items are not working.
  4. Housing Plus determines that general repairs cannot wait for the planned works program.
Response Category Response Target Definition
R1 – Emergency 4 hours An Emergency repair is any issue presenting an imminent safety risk to the Tenant or public, or a critical security risk for the Tenant, or an issue likely to result in further significant damage to the property.

Issues may include:

·        Gas Leak

·        Burst water pipe

·        Sewer/septic overflow into the premises

·        Major electrical fault

·        Significant security threat to premises or person

It is expected that contractors will attend and isolate and or make safe and secure within 24 hours. Once isolated/safe/secure the issue will transition to category ‘Urgent’ giving the contractor up to a further 4 days to make good.

R2 – Urgent 72 hours Our definition of Urgent repairs is the same as the 12 items listed in the Act. Should any of these items also constitute a safety, security or significant damage risk (then see “Emergency” above). It is expected that a contractor will attend and completely make good urgent repairs within 72 hours.

Issues may include:

·        Broken Window

·        Hot-water heater failure

·        Stove failure

·        External lock failure

R3 – Routine 28 days Any repair that is not a safety or security or significant damage risk, and is not defined as an urgent repair in the Act, can be considered a Routine repair. It is expected that a contractor will attend and completely make good Routine repairs within 28 days.

Issues include:

General repairs that are unable to wait for planned maintenance cycle ie.

Dripping taps

Internal door failure

Non-Essential Repairs Planned Maintenance Schedule Non-essential repairs are defined as problems that cause little or no disruption to the Tenant and will not lead to other defects or an escalation of the original problem.

Non-essential repairs are often not an issue for the Tenant, although they may be unattractive or lower the level of amenity. Examples include: a cracked windowpane that is not in danger of breaking, missing fly screens, general repainting.

Housing plus has a preference to defer non-essential repairs to be undertaken during a vacant upgrade or a major planned upgrade whenever possible or reasonable.

Leasehold Repairs Emergency and urgent repairs within above time frame In the case of Leasehold properties we will notify the landlord of any non-essential repairs as soon as possible, to fulfill our Tenant responsibility to advise them of any problems, but do not expect any specific response time.

 

Planned Maintenance

Housing Plus provides planned maintenance services to keep its properties in good condition and to ensure consistent maintenance standards.

Housing Plus manages planned maintenance in accordance with the Asset Management plan. This includes maintaining an Asset Management Database (AMD) for all capital properties. AMD takes account of maintenance due on each capital property and will feed into the Business Planning Cycle. AMD will be regularly updated and is the basis for outlining the planned maintenance works that will be carried out during a given funding year.

Long Term Asset Planning (LTAP) Inspections

Long Term Asset Planning (LTAP) inspections are conducted on each capital property at least once every three years. These inspections will identify any planned maintenance works required during the planning period or identify future redevelopment strategies for the asset. LTAP inspection data is entered into the AMD.

AMD includes maintenance reviews relative to the following components:

  1. Bathroom Condition
  2. Kitchen Condition
  3. External paint condition
  4. Internal paint condition
  5. Pest Inspection Reports
  6. Vinyl and carpet floor covering condition
  7. Laundry Condition
  8. Window condition
  9. Roof condition
  10. Gutters and down pipes condition

The work completed will be dependent on available funds, and will be completed in accordance with 10 year asset management plans. The Executive Team will monitor planned maintenance activity on a regular basis.

Tenant consultation and feedback will be encouraged in the development and implementation of the Planned Maintenance Program

Fire prevention and security measures will be included in any assessment of planned maintenance needs.

Major structural repairs and maintenance will be costed by the Property Inspector to ascertain the level of spend required to bring the property up to the required standard. If this level exceeds the threshold set within the Housing Plus Acquisition and Disposal Policy then further direction will be obtained from the Executive Team prior to any communication with LAHC.

Where possible, planned maintenance work will be organised to be tendered or contracted as packages in order to generate savings in bundling a number of properties together.

Appropriate professional & technical advice may be sought in scoping the work, developing the plan and managing contractor matters however the organisation may seek to recruit appropriate skills to manage these tasks internally in most cases.

In the case of major upgrades all works will be inspected on completion to verify that the upgrade has been completed to a satisfactory standard as per the Scope and/or Work Order and AMD will be updated accordingly.

Cyclical Maintenance

Cyclical maintenance works are programmes which are repeated at regular intervals. Examples of these programmes include;

  1. landscaping and grounds maintenance of communal gardens and of common areas
  2. maintenance of essential services (fire safety)
  3. preventative maintenance routines for building features such as hot water systems and rainwater harvesting systems
  4. electricity supply contracts for common areas

At the beginning of each financial year, Housing Plus will agree a schedule of cyclical service contracts for its properties. The schedule will be developed from the asset management information and will be prioritised against the following factors:

  1. the impact to the Tenant
  2. the current condition of the property
  3. long term impact of not servicing the property/equipment
  4. budgetary constraints
  5. the impact on other maintenance work streams

Housing Plus will publish general details of the properties that will benefit from the cyclical maintenance programme each year. This will include details of the works to be undertaken and the areas that will benefit from the work. The information will be published in the Tenants’ newsletter and on the organisations website.

Housing Plus will achieve value for money in delivering cyclical maintenance programs by tendering contracts on a regular basis and entering into partnering arrangements with service providers.

Home Modifications

Housing Plus will provide non-discriminatory and responsive services to Clients and applicants with a disability who are eligible for community housing. Housing Plus will modify its properties to suit people with disabilities if it is economically viable to do so. We will assist applicants and Clients with disabilities to live safely and comfortably in conditions appropriate to their need.

Housing Plus will adhere to all policy statements and strategies as outlined in the NSW Community Housing Disability Policy to ensure we meet our responsibilities towards Clients and applicants with disabilities and their families. In relation to Asset Management we will ensure community housing Clients with a disability benefit from good Asset Management practices, by:

  • Considering the needs of Clients with a disability when preparing asset management plans
  • Seeking formal advice from appropriate professionals when requesting, planning and undertaking modifications of properties for specific clients with a disability
  • Advising CAPMH of the needs of specific clients with a disability requiring modified properties, where we cannot meet these needs from our own resources
  • Managing our property portfolio to most effectively meet the needs of our clients with a disability
  • Ensuring that staff, volunteers and contractors are aware of the needs of individual clients with a disability, when they are planning and delivering maintenance, modifications and upgrades to those people’s properties
  • Allocating housing in a way that recognises social mix and avoids concentrations of clients with particular characteristics and
  • Allocating housing to clients with a disability in a way that recognises their needs, including access to support services.

Major Home Modifications

Major modifications to a Housing Plus capital property to meet the needs of the tenant will be undertaken only when an approval for major modifications and funding of such modifications is received from CAPMH and written approval by the delegated officer.

An Occupational Therapist Report including recommendations is required before undertaking any major home modifications.

If it is not economically viable for the existing home to have major home modifications, Clients may be transferred to a more suitable property. See the Transfers Policy.

Major modifications involve structural changes, for example:

  • Widening door ways
  • Providing ramp access, and
  • Modifying the kitchen, bathroom or laundry.

If major modifications are required, Housing Plus will meet with the Client in their home to assess the appropriateness of that property for modification. In assessment for modification suitability Housing Plus will consider:

  • Current and likely long term needs of the Client
  • Suitability of size of property for modification
  • Access & layout of the property
  • Size of property vs. household composition
  • Costs of alternative approaches
  • Cost/benefit of relocating the Client
  • Competing priorities for funds
  • Long term value of the property

 

Major Home Modifications Approval

LAHC owned properties

If the property is assessed by Housing Plus as appropriate for modification quotations are required to prepare a submission for funding and works approval to CAPMH. If approval is received the property will be modified strictly according to the OT report and CAPMH approval.

Housing Plus Owned Properties

If the property is owned by Housing Plus then the Property Services manager will present a case to undertake modifications at Housing Plus expense according to Schedule of Delegations.

Leasehold Properties

Housing Plus will not pay for any modifications to Leasehold Properties under any circumstances. Clients in these homes who require modifications will be referred to an OT for a full assessment of required modifications and Home Maintenance and Modifications Service for a quote for the work to be done according to the assessed need.

Housing Plus will contact the owner/agent of the property on behalf of the Client and request approval for the Client to have the work done at their own expense. If the work is approved (in writing) by the owner/agent, the Client shall be informed in writing of the approval and the Client may proceed with the modifications. Staff will ensure that any modifications to the property are included on the condition report for the property and that the updated condition report is signed by the Client. Staff will not enter into agreements with owners/agents for the modifications to be undertaken by the owner for an increase in the Housing Plus rent payable to the owner/agent.

If the request for modifications is denied by the owner/agent, the Client will be advised in writing and the Client will be supported by Housing Plus staff to look at alternative accommodation options more suitable to their needs.

Cost of Home Modifications to client

Approved modifications to Housing Plus properties will be done at no cost to the applicant or tenant.

Alterations to a Home

Tenants may want to make changes and alterations to their property. These changes could be major alterations or minor alterations.

Tenants may make minor alterations to their property without getting Housing Plus written permission, provided that no Head leasing or Strata Title restrictions apply.

Housing Plus will not pay for any modification requested by a Client (except disability modifications) nor for any associated costs that may be required in some cases such as council approval or certification.

Minor alterations examples: Major alterations examples:
·        Installing a picture hook

·        Installing child safety locks

·        Installing telephones.

·        Installing a TV antenna

·        Home modifications

·        Painting a dwelling

·        Building a carport or garage

·        Building a pergola

·        Installing a rainwater tank

·        Installing a swimming pool (will not be approved)

·        Installing personal mobility equipment

 

Tenants may make major alterations to their property by getting Housing Plus’ ‘in principle’ approval before seeking council approval (where relevant), including confirmation that no Headleasing or Strata Title restrictions apply

Where council approval is required, providing Housing Plus with a copy of council’s approval for the alterations.

Modifications remain the property of the Client who paid for them to be installed however if such modifications are removed at the end of a tenancy the Client will be expected to make good any damage, void or alteration to the building that such removal may cause.

If Clients choose not to remove modifications or alterations at the end of their tenancy then these become the property of Housing plus and can be removed or retained at the Organisation’s discretion.

Access to the Property for Repairs

Housing Plus will only enter the premises in the following circumstances:

  1. in an emergency (including to carry out urgent repairs)
  2. With the consent (agreement) of the tenant
  3. if Housing Plus has received NCAT Tribunal orders;
  4. if there is good reason for Housing Plus to believe the premises are abandoned;
  5. to inspect the premises, providing the Tenant is given 7 days notice (no more than four inspections are allowed in 12 months)
  6. to carry out necessary repairs, providing the Tenant is given 2 days notice on each occasion.
  7. With regard to clauses (e) and (f) above, Housing Plus must not enter the residential premises:
  • on a Sunday or public holiday unless the Tenant agrees;
  • outside the hours of 8am to 8pm, unless the Tenant agrees
  • except in an emergency (including to carry out urgent repairs)