Paragon Asra Housing Association
Procurement of Fire Remedial Frameworks
FFT were appointed to assist and support Paragon Asra Housing Association (PA) with the procurement of:
- Two long-term Fire Remedial Frameworks across London and the Midlands
- Two Planned Works Contract across London and the Midlands
- A Fire Safety Maintenance Contract across both regions
An integral part of the procurement process was the requirement to undertake Leasehold Consultation for which FFT were also appointed. A key objective of our client was to ensure that timely and compliant Leasehold Consultation was undertaken, in full compliance with Section 20 Regulations and the General Data Protection Regulations, to ensure that they could legitimately recharge their leaseholders for works undertaken across the duration of the contract term and enable to procurement timetable to progress in accordance with the programme.
FFT were initially instructed to procure a long-term Fire Safety Remedial Framework for the London region. At this time the merger between Paragon Housing Association Limited and Asra Housing Association had yet to take place and therefore the Leasehold Consultation only included the Paragon leaseholders. FFT drafted a Schedule 2 Notice of Intention, as the procurement would be a Qualifying Long-Term Agreement above the OJEU threshold, to include a detailed description of all proposed works and a series of Frequently Asked Questions in an effort to try and address as many common questions as possible.
We received the data list from our client and cleansed the information to ensure it was in a format that would be compatible with the merge fields within the Notice and also to eliminate any instances of inconsistency. This included Leaseholders, tenants who paid variable service charges and Residents Associations. FFT liaised with the mailing house to dispatch the Notice and created and managed an observation log whereby all observations received, and their subsequent response, were recorded.
Upon conclusion of the procurement process, FFT drafted a Notice of Landlords Proposal in relation to the four Framework Contractors and again ensured safe dispatch from the mailing house as well as managing all observations on our client’s behalf.
Following the merger of Paragon and Asra, FFT were appointed to undertake the procurement of two Planned Works Contracts, an additional Fire Remedial Framework and a Fire Safety Maintenance Contract.
In order to reduce the administrative burden for the Leaseholders and the associated cost for our client, FFT proposed that one Notice of Intention be issued to all Leaseholders to encompass all four OJEU Qualifying Long-Term Agreements. This required careful management of the Frequently Asked Questions to ensure that they covered all the differing workstreams and delivery of works and services. It was made very clear that the servicing arrangements were not a new charge for Leaseholders and that not all the proposed planned works would be applicable.
Following the procurement of all four Qualifying Long-Term Agreements, FFT issued four different Notice of Landlords Proposals, receiving all the observations and responding on behalf of the Client. FFT liaised with the Home Ownership Teams across the differing office locations to ensure all had access to the relevant tender documents and returns for Leaseholders to inspect, should they be required.
Prior to the issue of the Notice of Landlords Proposal for the Fire Safety Remedial Framework in London, there was a requirement to include additional London stock into the contract. The Notice of Intention had only been issued to the former Paragon London properties therefore without consultation it would not be possible for PA Housing to recharge their Leaseholders within the additional London stock.
Immediately following the merger, FFT received data lists from three different offices which resulted inconsistencies and large variances in the numbers of residents on the list between the Notice of Intention and Notice of Landlords Proposal stage. Furthermore, there was a requirement to issue the Notices on three different letter heads dependent upon the geographical area.
The Fire Safety Maintenance Servicing Contract was set up to cover two geographic areas – London and the Midlands. However, over the duration of the contract period, PA Housing advised that they proposed to subsume the legacy Asra London area into their London contract as the merger became complete across all areas of the business.
The Notice of Intention was issued at around the time of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower which resulted in an enormous number of observations related to fire safety concerns, many of which were very specific to blocks and properties.
FFT advised that the only way to ensure PA Housing could recharge all their Leaseholders and affected residents in the London region of the contract area would be to undertake fully compliant Leasehold Consultation. In liaison with Devonshire’s, FFT advised that a Notice of Intention should be issued to all new Leaseholders and tenants paying variable service charges across the new stock to be added to the contract area. Whilst the procurement had indeed taken place, it was considered that this approach carried the least amount of risk for a number of reasons; the affected residents would still be entitled to the 30 day observation period; there were no nomination rights as an OJEU procurement and should any challenge be mounted and progress to a First Tier Tribunal it was considered that as the Client had undertaken consultation this would be viewed favourably.
FFT drafted three different Notices of Intention to reflect the requirement to issue on three different letterheads across the geographical areas. Each Notice was slightly different in so far as not all Qualifying Long-Term Agreements were relevant for all areas. FFT split out the data lists to reflect the three Notices to be issued to mitigate the risk of any error at the mailing house. To minimise the inconsistency in that data, at the Notice of Proposal stage FFT sent back the original Notice of Intention list and requested that this be updated, therefore ensuring the format was correct and any new residents added to the list could be easily identified.
Consequently, FFT drafted and issued a Notice of Intention to the affected residents and recorded and responded to all observations received during the consultation period. Following the conclusion of the observation period, FFT then issued the Notice of Landlords Proposal to all Leaseholders, tenants paying variable service charges and Residents Associations across the entire contract area. It should be noted that no challenge was received from any of the affected residents and the Framework has now been operating for two years.
FFT, in conjunction with advice from Devonshire’s, advised PA Housing that the risk of challenge was deemed to be low as complaint consultation had taken place and furthermore additional text was added into the Notice of Landlords Proposals for the London area advising the affected residents that over the duration of the contract term they may receive a different provider, whose details were supplied within the Notice.
FFT responded to all observations and concerns received from residents. In cases where specific issues were raised regarding fire safety in their properties and blocks, these were recorded on the log and sent immediately to the Client for their attention.
This project spanned a time frame of great change both for the Client and in the wider housing environment and therefore FFT adopted a very flexible approach, as identified in the challenges and solutions discussed above. In addition, FFT liaised with legal advisors and provided advice for the Client to ensure that their risks were mitigated, and they were equipped with all the information required to recharge their residents in a timely and accurate fashion. FFT were also well positioned to offer advice in relation to how public procurement and section 20 legislation do not align and what the best solutions are with regard to how to navigate this.