Proposals to stop Council leaseholders from changing doors and windows in their own properties are facing renewed scrutiny, amidst warnings that they could worsen a safety situation.
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 10 November, Haringey Council’s cabinet voted to “remove the permissions that allow leaseholders to procure and install their own windows and external doors” and for all future installations "to be carried out by the council and its approved contractors". This was despite being presented with examples of work performed by Homes for Haringey (HfH), the council’s arm’s length housing management organisation, that had serious quality and safety issues.
Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors have expressed concerns that Homes for Haringey does not yet have the processes in place to guarantee that the work they are carrying out meets the quality and safety standards leaseholders should expect.
At the cabinet meeting, Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison cited examples of window replacement works carried out by Homes for Haringey that left holes in walls, exposed insulation, and windows without latches for over a year; and a fire door replacement programme where leaseholders are still awaiting the work to be carried out despite making payment to HfH over a year ago.
In response to questions from the Lib Dem councillor, the chief exec of Homes for Haringey acknowledged deficiencies in works and standards over time and that the levels of complaints were higher than he would like.
Following the cabinet decision, members of the Lib Dem Group have “called-in” the decision for review by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC).
Cllr Dawn Barnes, Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Housing and Estate Renewal, said that:
“This decision was taken without any evidence that doors and windows installed by HfH are safer than those put in by a leaseholder’s preferred contractor, and without Homes for Haringey demonstrating adequate quality control processes to review works after they have been carried out and to ensure they meet the council's standards. The safety of its leaseholders and tenants must be the council’s paramount concern which is why we are calling in this decision for further review by OSC.
“The cabinet needs to seriously consider whether Homes for Haringey is ready to take on the exclusive operation of such critical safety work, and needs to reassure leaseholders that being forced to use one supplier will not saddle them with poor quality work and/or excessive prices.”