A council’s decision to launch its own housing repairs and maintenance company has seen a 45% reduction in void properties.
Unitas Stoke-on-Trent Ltd was set up in February 2018 following the end of a 10-year joint venture with the Kier Group in which Stoke-on-Trent City Council owned a 20% share.
The new company is wholly owned by the council and looks after its 18,000 council homes, other properties and listed buildings.
In June 2017, with Kier Stoke carrying out repairs, the council had 284 void properties at one time. This number decreased to 192 in June 2018 when Unitas began carrying out repairs and has decreased again to 155 in June 2019 – only 0.8% of the total council housing stock.
Councillor Joanne Powell-Beckett, Unitas board member and the city council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “It’s really good to see Unitas and the council’s housing team working together to reduce the time it takes to re-let an empty property and get families that desperately need accommodation into our housing stock.”
The council has two void targets from the time keys have been handed back to when keys have been given to a new tenant. They are: 25 days for a standard void and 50 days for a non-standard void.
Mr Gary Turner, Senior Service Manager for Voids at Unitas, said: “The targets require Unitas and the council’s allocations team to work closely together, as the process of getting the properties re-lettable is split; with Unitas carrying out safety checks and repairs (to the council’s lettable standard) and the allocations team finding a new customer to take over the property.
“Both teams are in daily communication, arranging new customer viewings during the works and discussing completion dates so customers can start planning their move.
“This teamwork has helped reduce the number of void properties the council has at any one time and is a fantastic achievement.”
Unitas is on track to continue smashing targets – in the first quarter of this financial year (April, May, June) 332 voids were completed and the company repaired all standard voids in an average of 10 calendar days and non-standard voids in an average of 37 calendar days.
In the same period, 96% of voids were returned on or before their completion date.
Mr Gary Turner added: “The second quarter has started well, with July’s figures showing 118 voids completed, standard voids being completed in an average of 8 calendar days and non-standard voids getting finished in an average of 26 calendar days – with 97% returned on or before their completion date.”
To achieve the reduction Unitas flexed its operational delivery model to manage the works required to individual properties such as: flexible working hours, pre-loading jobs with materials, using multi-skilled technicians, sharing labour with the Unitas repairs section and continually analysing delivery and looking for improvements.
For more information visit https://unitas.co.uk.