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Can we fix it? Yes we can!

By J

I was in B&Q the other day, when a man in an orange overall came up to me and asked if I wanted decking… luckily I managed to get the first punch in.

Ok, so that’s not the greatest joke in the world (and, as my wife points out, I’ve never been to B&Q), but it serves as an entirely suitable introduction to the Tenant Cashback scheme, announced by Grant Shapps MP this week. The official announcement is here and the Inside Housing piece is here.

The government takes the view that some of the maintenance works done by social landlords to their housing stock could – and should – properly be done by tenants. So, what it proposes to do is to give tenants a chance to manage the repairs budget for their own homes (although, I must say, I’ve never seen a per home repair budget, rather, the landlord usually sets aside a pan stock sum). It looks like jobs (e.g. external painting) will be given a notional value and, if the tenant can get it done for less than that, they keep the difference, thus encouraging people to do the work themselves or commission it locally from cheaper suppliers.

Leaving aside the obvious concerns about about potential liability for poor quality DIY work (see, e.g. Defective Premises Act 1972), and the potential for dubious redecoration schemes (such as this) and the inevitable clash between planned cyclical maintenance works and individual demands of individual properties… this is an excellent idea that should be welcomed by all litigation lawyers.

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


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