This service is provided for tenants and leaseholders who live in blocks of flats / maisonettes with communal facilities. The services offered vary at each location, driven by the design of the block, location, and the level of daily wear and tear on the block.

Caretaking services

 Over recent years staff at in the Housing service have been reviewing caretaking services and the services we provide on estates in general. The caretaking team comprises 5 Caretakers and 1 Senior Caretaker, between them they provide a service to 230 blocks of flats of varying sizes across the 85 housing estates in the district.

The Caretakers priority is to clear common areas and manage refuse areas ensuring that when dustment have attended the estaes the bins are replaced properly under the chutes and in the refuse areas. The Caretakers also check the communal lights are working, report any repairs to common areas, sweep and mop the floors and wipe handrails. In addition they also monitor blocks for breaches of Health and Safety or Fire Regulations.

Until recently the Caretakers aimed to visit each block on a weekly basis. In the course of the review it was found that a significant part of the Caretakers working day was spent travelling around the district and although notionally they were allocatd 30 minutes at each block, this allocation was eroded by time spent travelling.

The majority of council blocks are in very good condition and a well cared for by residents. A few blocks are in a poor condtion and this is often due to residents (or their visitors) dropping litter or dumping rubbish in communal areas. Although the service has improved in recent years, we still receive complaints from tenants that the Caretakers visit is fleeting and has little impact.

In recent years we have intorduced a deep cleaning service where at least once a year each estate is visited by the caretaking team and given a thorough overhaul, walls and floors are washed, light fittings removed and cleaned, handrails and door furniture is given a wash.

In April 2011 we decided to change the way we organise the caretaking service in order to improve the service and raise the impact of the caretakers visits. We compared our service with that provided by several other landlords and found we were one of the few who actually provided a regular caretaking service.

As a result of our review we have made the following changes to the service

  • Some blocks will continue to receive a weekly service where there are particular problems or where there are refuse chutes and refuse is collected 2-3 times weekly

  • Some blocks, including Sheltered Housing blocks will receive a fortnightly service

  • A number of blocks will receive a 4 weekly service

Where we no longer provide a weekly service, we will provide a more intensive cleaning service using a team of caretakers with some regular deep cleaning.

All tenants and leaseholders pay a service charge for the caretaking service, tenants pay alongside their weekly rent and leaseholders pay alongside their annual sevice charges. We have noticed some disparities in the way we charge for the service and we have therefore reviewed our charges for the service to make sure we are charging fairly for the level of service we provide at a particular block. In order to do this we have taken the annual cost of the caretaking service and calculated the number of caretaking hours this provides us with. Each block is now charged according to the number of caretaking hours it receives each year.

The actual cost of caretaking has been calculated at £25.25 per hour in 2011-2012.  This is not just the cost of the caretakers salary(which is far less than this) but it also covers the cost of travelling around the district, public liability insurance and costs of cleaning equipment and materials.

We have also calculated the number of caretaking hours each block should receive each year based on a caretaking availability of 48 weeks per year. We have not charged for 52 weeks per year because we recognise that during periods of severe weather (particularly snow)  or some other local emergency, Caretakers will be redeployed to more urgent tasks such as clearing snow from sheltered housing schemes.

It is anticipated that in addition to regular caretaking, some time will be set aside for the Senior Caretaker and the Estate Services Officer to carry out more frequent inspection of blocks and arrange immediate attendance where urgent health and safety problems are reported.

These changes took effect from April 2011. The details of the weeks when you can expact the caretakers to attend your block can be obtained from the links provided.

If you have any questions about the services at your home you can call Andrew Illot the Estates Services Officer on 01727 819599 or email him on andrew.illot@stalbans.gov.uk

Date of last review: 05 May 2011