Under the Tenant Cashback Scheme, responsible residents will have the chance to tackle everyday DIY dilemmas like leaky taps, fitting doors and painting and decorating.
Those who sign up to the scheme could receive more than just cash for their efforts. There is also the opportunity to get on the career ladder with the opportunity of basic training programmes to help develop skills even further.
Mr Shapps said the Tenant Cashback scheme offers the opportunity:
- For tenants to earn extra cash – up to £500 a year for those who sign up and agree to undertake minor repairs in their homes; and
- For communities to come together to take on repairs for their area, pooling their money to improve the local area and help neighbours who can’t do the work themselves
Some landlords are already leading the way, including:
- Home Group – Social tenants in Coulby Newham, Durham, Braintree, Essex and Cumbria are being offered tailored DIY courses at a B&Q training centre to support them in carrying out their own repairs;
- Bromford Group – Dudley, Lichfield, Cotswold, Stratford residents receive one to one advice on maintaining their homes and tenants have provided videos with hints and to help their neighbours get started; and
- Together Group – Residents are all receiving basic DIY training, with wider support offered around developing a CV and employment opportunities.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “Rather than having to wait for landlords to act, tenants should be able to tackle their own DIY dilemmas and get paid for it. Tenant Cashback offers just that opportunity, with as much as £500 a year available to residents who sign up to tackle such minor repairs as leaky taps and decorating. And for some, this could even serve as an apprenticeship in the home and the start on a path to a whole new career. This, combined with the potential to bring the local community together to improve the local area, means all councils and housing associations should give residents the right to take up tools through this new scheme.”
However doubt has been cast on the viability of the government’s scheme, after maintenance contractor T Brown Group successfully sued Hillingdon Council following an injury to one of it’s employees when they fell from a stairway where tenants had removed the banisters for aesthetic reasons.
The London High Court judge found that Hillingdon was responsible for contract worker Patrick Hannon’s injuries, which left him unable to work, even though it neither sanctioned nor carried out the work. The council is now threatened with a potential six-figure pay out (the exact figure is to be determined at a later date).
Hugo Stephens, partner at law firm Cobbetts, said: ‘This case proves one of the points that has continually been raised about tenant cashback – you can’t just allow tenants to do any repairs you like and there needs to be some sort of process by which you ensure that health and safety is complied with.’
Ian Rumsam, head of the tenant cashback pilot scheme at Together Housing Group, said the organisation has ensured tenants only carried out minor works in order to avoid potential legal challenges: ‘[Tenants] would not and should not carry out any repairs which can affect the functionality or structure of the building,’ he said.
A spokesperson for the Communities and Local Government department said: ‘We have always made clear that with any tenant cashback scheme, landlords remain responsible for the state of their properties and ensuring that work is carried out to a good standard.’