For property managers who are wondering whether or not routine maintenance should still go ahead in their blocks, the government has provided some clarity today. Secretary of State at the MHCLG Robert Jenrick, speaking to the BBC today, has confirmed the importance of ensuring that the maintenance of buildings for safety and sanitation continues – and that important works such as cladding remediation should still be carried out.
Amid the row over whether or not construction work should still continue on sites around the country, he emphasised the importance of ensuring all work is done in accordance with Public Health England guidance, which means abiding by the two-metre distancing rule at all times.
Following the announcement, the Institute of Residential Property Managers (IRPM) circulated a Newsflash to all its members this morning, saying the message from Mr Jenrick “would strongly suggest that other safety-critical work such as lift maintenance should continue”. The professional body also takes the fact that the Secretary of State specifically mentioned sanitation, to mean that appropriate cleaning regimes can continue in blocks too. The IRPM says it is now waiting for an approved list from MHCLG of which contractors may attend site and for what purpose. We will share this information with you when we know more.
Here’s what the Minister had to say. “There are settings in for example the construction industry where it is extremely important that we try to help people to continue to go to work. For example, ensuring that buildings are maintained properly for fire safety, for sanitation reasons. For example, ensuring that important programmes like the removal of dangerous ACM cladding on high-rise buildings continues, so there is essential work going on in the housing and construction industry that we want to encourage as long as it is safe to do so.”
In the meantime, trade bodies are advising maintenance contractors not only to abide by the distancing rules, but to ensure very high levels of hygiene while they are carrying out work. If an engineer is due to visit your building, they should be checking if anyone in the building has been diagnosed with Coronavirus or is self-isolating to ensure their safety as well as that of the people in your block. As we blogged on Monday, its vital to provide handwashing facilities for engineers and technicians; to keep plant rooms and other areas where they may be working clean and accessible; and to ensure residents are kept clear of any work areas.
This is all good practice anyway and may even encourage better standards of communication and hygiene in our blocks when this is over. We would like to assure all our clients and residents that routine servicing schedules are continuing in your blocks, as is our 24/7 emergency response.