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Building maintenance issues add to Asset Owners’ duty woes

3 minutes read

Contractors, Developers & Asset Owners

Man with a tape measure and clipboard doing maintenance work in a building
  • Nearly 50% of UK non-freeholders report an unaddressed maintenance issue
  • Communication between building management and residents improves by a fifth (22%), but still remains fragmented, inconsistent and lacks detail say 35%
  • Service satisfaction declines by almost 10%
  • Two-thirds do not feel their maintenance issues are promptly resolved

London, 22nd March 2023: New research from leading ConTech solutions providers, Zutec and Createmaster, reveals many UK tenants and leaseholders are living with outstanding maintenance issues in their homes.

From faulty fixtures to unaddressed snagging issues and ongoing defects, the surprisingly high levels of outstanding maintenance issues raised by almost half of UK non-freeholders (47%) questioned, indicate many are living in uncomfortable, and potentially unsafe, circumstances.

2,000 residents were polled in January 2023, to understand how safe they felt in their property (only four in 10 tenants surveyed said they felt completely safe in their homes), and the quality of service they received from their asset owner or building maintenance team. This was then compared to an identical survey conducted in autumn 2021 to observe levels of improvement or deterioration against the context of tighter building regulations.

Better communication

Over 40% acknowledged communication and information provision from their asset owner was excellent, a 22% improvement on 2021 levels. No doubt prompted by regulatory changes, this is a step in the right direction. However, 35% said communication was fragmented, inconsistent and lacked detailed information.

Despite this, a higher number of respondents in 2023 felt they had better access to building information than in 2021, particularly around fire safety literature with levels growing from under 10% to around a quarter (+16% increase).

Persistent issues

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to the quality of maintenance provided. Residents are three times more likely to have a poorly maintained home than 18 months ago. Furthermore, 63% of respondents felt their issues weren’t addressed promptly after they had raised them.

Almost half of respondents this year (47%) also flagged an existing and unaddressed maintenance issue. Of these, mould and fungus problems were the most common, raised by around two in five (39%), with a similar number flagging broken doors and windows (42%), leaks (36%) or damaged floors, walls and ceilings (36%). Largely unchanged on 2021 levels, it highlights that maintenance delays remain a thorny issue of contention between owner and occupant.

With high-profile coverage of issues such as cladding and fire safety in residential blocks, property owners have been diverting funds to urgent activity such as legally binding cladding remediation, which may be at the cost of day-to-day repairs. The stagnant results should encourage asset owners to audit their property portfolio, whilst advising residences about how to prevent or treat it.

More work to be done

Commenting on the findings, Maria Hudson, Zutec’s CMO says, “Despite landlords spending out billions on repairs, it’s clear from our research that more needs to be done for tenants to feel safe in their homes. Supply chain issues and skills shortages are an ongoing issue for asset owners.

“However, as the sector faces tougher pressure to meet health and safety measures and new and updated regulatory requirements, such as the Building Safety Act 2022, they need to think differently about how they address these issues. A greater understanding of digital tools is needed to galvanise action. The right solutions and technology to develop, collate and then surface the right building information will provide a valuable resource for maintenance, repairs upgrades, retrofits and communication back to tenants, while also supporting their path to compliance and the golden thread of information.”

With solutions across the RIBA stages of an asset’s lifecycle, from design to construction, and handover to maintenance, click to Zutec to understand more about better whole-life asset management.