‘A very scary figure’: More than £272m to be spent on updating York council homes

Housing problems in Bell Farm were brought up at the meeting. Photograph © Google Street View

More than £272.5m will be spent on repairing council homes in York – an average of £33,539 per property.

The money will be spent over the next 30 years on fixing things like wiring, kitchens and bathrooms.

Cllr Michael Pavlovic said the sum for the planned works is a “very scary figure” at a housing meeting.

But a council spokesman said the repairs are part of a “normal process”.

All council properties must meet a minimum standard according to the government.

Nine per cent of City of York Council properties were not at a decent standard in July, according to a report prepared for the meeting.

Wiring failures

But Mike Gilsenen, the council’s head of building services, said the majority failed because 546 homes did not have electric certificates from the past 30 years – so the council does not know what condition the wiring is in.

A programme to check the electrics in these homes will begin next month.

He told councillors: “It doesn’t necessarily mean that no work was carried out in the past 30 years but we couldn’t evidence it.

“You can have an installation that is older than 30 years and it can meet the decent standard.”

He said that about 320 properties failed to meet a decent standard for other reasons – mainly due to kitchens and external doors being in a bad condition.

The report says: “Catch up Repairs were identified as being £723,143, an average of just £89 per property. The most significant costs have been identified against repairs for bathrooms.”

Rosemary Suttill from Citizens Advice told the meeting that a number of tenants speak to them about problems with doors, adding: “We do see a lot of our clients who have housing problems – some of them with local authorities some of them in the private sector.

“We do certainly see tenants who’ve got problems with doors. I can think immediately of three situations and I can see that external doors do cause security concerns so I’m not quite sure if that ought to be a criteria .”

200 damp homes

Cllr Danny Myers. Photograph: Cllr Myers / Twitter
Cllr Danny Myers also asked how many homes had failed to meet standards because of damp.

He said: “About 18 months ago there were 200 homes across Bell Farm awaiting repairs for damp.”

Mr Gilsenen said the problems in Bell Farm are due to standing water, adding: “I do appreciate people have been on that programme for a long time. That’s principally because we have to take the floor out, we have to move the tenant out and we only have limited homes that we can move them in to.”

Tom Brittain, assistant director of housing at the council, said:

  • Scrutiny were looking at the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) business plan, which is currently under review. The £272m was identified as part of the stock conditions survey that the council commissioned.

    The survey identified that the council would need to spend this amount over the next 30 years. Officers will be bringing a report to the Executive early next year, as part of the budget process.

    The report will set out the spending profile for the next 30 years (which is reviewed every 18 months).

He added: “The Housing Revenue Account is legally required to maintain a surplus every year (we cannot go into deficit).

“This is a normal process.”