Mark Lowe of Pinacl explores how conducting a property ‘MOT’ can provide an overall view of the health of a property portfolio
Everyone requires a home that is at least fit for purpose, but unfortunately that isn’t the case for many living in the UK. A home should be somewhere you can feel safe and shouldn’t negatively affect your health or hold back your opportunity to succeed. Maintaining healthy properties is one of the most difficult tasks in the Housing sector.
The Scape Group analysed data from the Office for National Statistics to explore the decline in social housing standards and, with councils facing huge budget cuts over the years, the total spent on repairs and maintenance of social housing properties fell from £9.3bn in 1997 to £7.1bn in 2018.
The reduction in maintenance spending has had a severe effect on the quality of housing in the UK, with 4.5 million homes failing to meet the Decent Homes Standard through damp and mould growth, electrical hazards, and water supply.
The housing sector can however improve their overall property health. Property managers should improve the everyday management of properties by performing a property ‘MOT’ – now easily facilitated by property management software – assessing the health of different aspects of housing and providing tenants with greater security.
Many properties see a significant number of damp, condensation and mould related issues which align to the ventilation of a property. It is important to assess the detailed performance of installed elements including forced vents, passive vents and background ventilation with each fully analysed and aligned to:
- Occupancy Levels
- Property geographical location and orientation
- System performance, management and utilization
- The effect installed systems have on each accompanying device within a property
To combat moisture, landlords and property managers must confirm the structure age, type, location, and occupancy levels, and conduct a detailed review of the structure both internally and externally, and note any defects or damage that can impact internal elements.
A ‘moisture profile’ can alert any existing issues or, conversely, acknowledge the dryness of the structure at the time of the survey.
Also important is to provide an overview of the existing ventilation, its use by the occupants, plus the installation and effectiveness of existing insulations.
Some software providers can offer smart IoT sensors with alarm parameters to deliver timely awareness of prevailing conditions that can give rise to future issues.
This kind of process can provide a long-term overview of structural and occupational behaviour with alarms linked to a ‘knowledge centre’ – providing immediate information for both landlord and tenant.
An insulation ‘MOT’ should measure the suitability of new and proposed insulation installations, and ideally incorporate a thermal imaging survey alongside physical and visual assessments.
Poor existing installation can develop into areas of concern during colder periods of the year. Surveys can be used to counter this, as well as to provide respective installation guidance aligned to property type, age, geographic location, and orientation.
Using modern technology, drones can now be used by professionals to survey structural elements not readily accessible by standard means.
In addition to any reported structural damage, specialised drones can aid thermal and carbon footprint assessments of properties alongside topographic and demographic surveys.
The air permeability of a building can have major impacts for tenants. It’s important to confirm the energy efficiency of existing installations and determine and optimise heating and ventilation performance in line with the structure type and occupancy levels.
Through property management software, specialised companies are able to offer a certified baseline condition of the health of every property provided to a tenant when they take up occupancy.
As well as achieving all the above, this could ensure all properties comply with building regulations, and moreover, the new Fitness for Human Habitation Act that is now in effect.
Further to this, landlords can ensure that properties are deemed healthy at commencement and during a lease term, that complaints are reduced by combating early warning signs, that staff knowledge is increased, and that key information is provided to tenants based upon pertinent fact-based data.
By using such a property management software service to perform an ‘MOT’ of their housing, landlords and property managers can provide a wide and accurate view of the health of their property portfolio to ensure tenants and landlords alike can rest easy.
Mark Lowe is business development director at Pinacl