01 June 2012
With more than 360,000 households on council waiting lists for new homes, there is a significant need for social housing landlords and providers to ensure they’re doing everything in their power to bring properties back into use, quickly, especially in the face of constricted government funding.
Symptoms of social and economic instability, such as metal theft and squatting, can often prevent or frustrate the turnaround of stock. Vacant property services, such as the installation of cost-effective security solutions, for example steel security screens and doors and electronic security systems, can help to protect empty homes until reoccupation. Proactive measures such as draining down the water system in a vacant property can also help to prevent catastrophic damage if metal pipes are stolen.
Recent figures revealed that 25,000 fewer affordable homes will be built under the new government regime – this is half the number completed before the Coalition Government came into power. This is adding further pressure to council waiting lists and increasing the requirement for social housing providers to make more efficient use of what’s already there, and effectively protect vacant assets so they are ready for re-occupation.
The vacant property experts will be sharing their insight into the most effective methods of protecting social housing stock at this year’s Annual Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Conference.
Nick Tubbs, UK Managing Director of VPS, said: “We believe this year’s CIH Conference will provide real insights into the provision of affordable housing. As vacant property experts, we work closely with social housing landlords and providers to reduce void property stocks, which if not managed properly can lead to significant loss of income for councils and housing organisations. We understand that a quick turnaround helps to make sure tenant waiting times are kept to a minimum and every available property is being used. However, hurdles continue to undermine this and there are increasing threats to vacant property being occupied, such as damage caused by metal theft, which is why we encourage the implementation of effective security solutions, such as state-of-the-art alarming technology.”
VPS advises social housing landlords and providers to take the following steps to ensure their assets are well protected during these turbulent times:
-Undertake a comprehensive risk assessment by a specialist company to assess potential risks, such as fire hazards and public liability exposure as well as the exposure to damage from squatters/criminals.
-Drain down services are a cost effective preventative measure, which include the drain down of all water systems, as well as the switching off of other utilities such as gas and electric services. This prevents catastrophic damage to vacant properties if metal pipes are stolen, and makes the property less attractive to squatters.
-High security steel screens and doors can prevent unauthorised access to the building and in turn protect the internal fabric of the building. These methods are much more effective than plywood boarding which is easy to breach and can be used by arsonists as flammable material.
-Electronic security, such as the VPS SmartAlarm Gold, can be swiftly deployed to provide instant visual monitoring and protection. Sensors provide immediate detection and report on a range of incidents including intruders, flooding and fire. Verifeye Visual camera sensors are motion activated and take full colour video clips, which are rapidly relayed to VPS’ 24/7 national monitoring station. This real time footage helps validate any alarm activations, and can act as evidence when applying for an Interim Possession Order – a fast track eviction process.
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