July 22 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
A company which looks after thousands of homes was six months late on crucial electrical safety checks, an investigation has found.
Partners for Improvement in Islington (PfI), who manage 6,500 homes on behalf of Islington Council, has to check the electrics in all its properties every six years under its contract.
A report by Stuart Hodkinson, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to investigate public housing, found many homes remained unchecked after six-and-a-half years.
He called it a “serious health and safety issue”.
Legally landlords only have to check electrics every 10 years, but the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) say five years is a safer minimum.
Dr Hodkinson said: “The problem with this contract is, once it got signed, a huge amount of what should be happening isn’t. It’s almost systematic.
“No-one is checking the work is of a minimum standard. The majority is self-certified by the guy on the job and you are lucky if the council visit one in 100. This could absolutely put lives at risk.
“It’s almost like the contractors and consortium operate with impunity as if they know no-one will ever check their work.
“Partners have too much power. The contract is too big to fail. It would be politically disastrous.
“They have to live with it because financial penalties are too onerous.”
Partners claim they have complied with the contract but a leaked council document seen by the Gazette says: “We were already aware of the electrical certification issue in relation to our PfI contract and brought this contract failure to Partners’ attention last year.”
An official town hall statement said Partners had been spoken to and had now resolved the issue within their obligations under contract.
Thomas Cooper, a housing campaigner, said: “What financial penalties have been incurred for failing to adhere to the terms of the contract?”
Brian Potter, chairman of Islington Leaseholders Association (ILA), called for an independent investigation.
A spokesman for Partners for Improvement in Islington said: “More than 99 per cent of our tenanted homes have a current valid electrical safety certificate and we are taking legal action to enforce access to the very small number of tenants’ homes where our electrical contractor has repeatedly been unable to gain access.”