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Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils complete safety checks after self-referral to housing regulator

Two councils that discovered they breached safety rules for their council houses collectively completed 367 gas, electrical and smoke detector checks and installations between March and June – leaving 1,872 outstanding.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils referred themselves to the regulator of social housing last November, and were handed a regulatory notice at the end of January this year. Regulatory notices are given when actual or potential serious harm is caused to tenants due to a breach of a consumer standard.

Between March and June this year, the councils collectively carried out 32 gas safety checks, leaving 47 still overdue; 144 electrical condition reports, leaving 160 to be completed; and 191 smoke detector installations, leaving 1,665 overdue.

Suffolk County Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk HQ
Suffolk County Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk HQ

A spokesperson for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils said: “Our tenants are our priority, and we are determined to complete outstanding checks at the last remaining properties as quickly as possible to give them maximum reassurance.

“Of our 6,788 homes, a very small proportion are awaiting heating checks and this number is falling all the time. In many cases this is due to difficulties we are having in gaining entry to properties. When this happens, we must follow a legal process which takes time.”

Between November 2022 and March 2023, the councils had completed 167 out of 254 outstanding gas safety inspections, 151 out of 536 required electrical condition reports, and all 92 overdue asbestos inspections.

A new regulation was introduced in October 2022 requiring carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in any room with a fuel-burning appliance, aside from gas cookers. In May this year, 788 installations were overdue in Babergh and 629 in Mid Suffolk. By June 18, these figures were reduced by eight and 444 respectively.

The council spokesperson continued: “Since October 2022, we have been taking a proactive approach to installing carbon monoxide detectors during heating service visits.

“Good progress is being made and we are continually looking at ways to increase the installation rate.”

Babergh District Council’s cabinet will discuss the progress made towards compliance with the housing regulator next Monday, and Mid Suffolk’s cabinet will do so next Tuesday.