Advice on some aspects of repair and maintenance operations

This section outlines certain aspects of maintenance works.

Tenancy Agreement and Tenants’ Handbook

As some repairs may be the tenant’s responsibility, the Tenants’ Handbook should explain the division of responsibilities between the tenant and the Association.  This should include, where appropriate:

  • details of the Association and its work
  • contact details for the Association’s staff relative to various services
  • association and tenant responsibilities for repairs
  • advice on emergency arrangements
  • target timescales in respect of responsive repairs (it would also be useful to include details of repair types under each timescale category)
  • the level of service the tenant can expect
  • details of the Right to Repair scheme
  • recommendation that tenants have appropriate contents insurance cover
  • procedures for improvements by tenants
  • advice on using energy efficiently, water use, avoidance of condensation problems and cleaning of various surfaces
  • details of access required by the Association to allow for inspections and maintenance works etc, to be undertaken

For more information see Repair Responsibilities, Classification of Repairs, Right to Repair

Organisation and staffing for the Association’s maintenance task

This will depend on the size and nature of the Association’s stock.  This could vary from part-time staff to a large section with in-house technical personnel.  In most cases, the Association will need to appoint technical consultants or use a suitably qualified and competent person directly employed by the Association to undertake surveys, and prepare and oversee maintenance contracts etc.  

The appointment of consultants, contractual arrangements and the Association’s formal approval of schemes should be streamlined where possible, and performance/time targets established for the various processes.  (It is recommended that Associations use a ratio of 1 person per 600 units when making such appointments).

For more information see Procurement

Need for maintenance works

Initially this can arise as a result of a request from a tenant or tenants. Routine work is more likely to arise from periodic inspection procedures that cover all aspects of the dwelling/ property/ estate.  


Associations should have a detailed knowledge of the condition of the structure, fabric, services, fittings etc, of the various properties comprising the Association’s stock.  

Where there are gaps in the Association’s knowledge, regular surveys by technical consultants or suitably qualified and competent persons directly employed by the Association may be necessary to identify problem areas.

Regular surveys, that precede normal cyclical maintenance works, may be necessary every five or six years.  More frequent or annual inspections by the Association may be necessary to identify the need for minor preventative repairs that, if left, could cause more serious problems – for example damaged or missing roof tiles, missing or damaged rainwater pipes, broken or damaged roof-lights.


Associations need to plan for undertaking various maintenance activities. Generally, the work can be separated into four broad headings:

Response Maintenance

This includes emergency, urgent and routine repairs.  These activities are essentially event driven and the Association needs to have procedures and contracts in place to allow the work to be completed within target response times.

For more information see Repair Responsibilities, Classification of Repairs

Planned maintenance

This activity is essentially time driven, in that these activities are normally carried out at set or periodic time intervals to take account of good practice and code of practice recommendations published by the building industry etc, and may be based on past maintenance history and detailed stock condition surveys and include works such as window replacement, kitchen and bathroom replacement, upgrading fire/ smoke detection, heating upgrades, mechanical ventilation, electrical rewiring, security recommendations and external environmental improvement works etc.

For more information see Work content of Planned Maintenance schemes

Cyclical maintenance

This would normally include, for example, electrical testing, external repainting, legionella control, window servicing, the annual servicing of heating systems, fire alarms, lifts, repairs to fencing and similar items, gutter cleaning and grounds maintenance etc.

For more information see Work content of Cyclical Maintenance schemes

Voids and re-lets

This normally comprises response maintenance, but may require an element of planned maintenance to a dwelling/ property that is to be re-let.  
For more information see Void management

Procurement procedures for maintenance works

Advice on Procurement Requirements for Housing Associations is contained in the Housing Association Guide - this provides, amongst other things, guidance on selective competitive tendering procedures.

Associations should aim to reduce the time and need for tendering each individual scheme by using longer-term, competitively tendered contracts such as Measured Term Contracts (MTC)/ Term Service Contracts (TSC), which would cover the Association’s requirements for a number of years and also include ‘Partnering’ which may be particularly appropriate for maintenance type works.

For more information see Procurement


In undertaking maintenance work, key stages normally comprise:

  • initiation – by tenant or Association or both (Pre-Inspection)
  • authorisation by appropriate officer of the Association
  • specification and estimate prepared
  • tendering – if Measured Term Contract not available
  • contract let/work-order issued by the Association
  • work undertaken by contractor
  • quality checks on work by Association (Post-Inspection)
  • approval of completed works
  • certification and payment
  • (sample) customer satisfaction survey on the completed work and on the contractor’s performance.

Further advice

Further advice on various aspects of maintenance can be found in the following publications:

  • Best Practice in Maintenance. National Housing Federation (2004)
  • Good Practice Briefing: Repairs and Maintenance. Chartered Institute of Housing (2001).
  • Report – Right First Time: How Housing Associations are improving their responsive repairs.  Chartered Institute of Housing (2005).
  • Inspection Uncovered: Repairs and Maintenance Services. Housing Corporation (2003).
  • Building Maintenance: Strategy, Planning & Procurement.  RICS (2009 2nd Edition).  

[NB:  Other publications are also available.  It is important that Associations ensure that any guidance sources used contain current information.]

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