10% report same problem 10 times in social homes!

10% report same problem 10 times in social homes!

10:39 AM, 12th June 2019, About 3 years ago 10

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Two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, Shelter is warning the government must listen to the third of families with children in social housing who feel less safe in their homes and take urgent action to prevent further tragedies.

The government is proposing a new building safety regulator, but the housing charity fears this will not go far enough to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all tenants is protected. That is why Shelter is standing with Grenfell United to call on the government to introduce a tough, new consumer regulator that protects tenants and proactively inspects social landlords.

New figures released by Shelter show that over half (56%) of social renters in England – five million people – have experienced a problem with their home in the last three years, including electrical hazards, gas leaks and faulty lifts. Among those who had a problem, one in 10 had to report it more than 10 times, suggesting tenants are still being failed by poor regulation.

Worryingly, the survey carried out by YouGov shows that over the same period more than 400,000 people encountered an issue with fire safety, which also affected their neighbours in over two-fifths of cases.

Shelter is concerned that the current regulator of social housing exists mainly to oversee finances and is not exclusively focussed on addressing the concerns of residents or tackling problem landlords head-on. In fact, almost three-quarters (72%) of social tenants in England have never heard of the current regulator.

The research also reveals a deep mistrust in the government since the Grenfell Tower fire, with half saying they have less trust in the government to keep social tenants safe in their homes. Another third says the government’s response has made no difference. This is why Shelter and Grenfell United believe that only a new consumer regulator can protect tenants and rebuild trust.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Social tenants living in Grenfell Tower raised serious safety concerns before the fire, but they were ignored. Two years on, social renters are still being failed by poor regulation and people are still fighting to be heard.

“In the wake of food scandals and financial scandals, the government responded with new regulators to protect consumers, and that’s exactly what we need for social housing. It cannot be right that scores of complaints and problems that affect whole blocks of flats, like faulty lifts or gas leaks, go unheard. We need a new regulator that’s firmly on the side of tenants.

“Tinkering with the current system just isn’t good enough when people have lost trust in it to keep them safe. That’s why we stand with Grenfell United in calling on the government to establish a new consumer regulator, which inspects social landlords and listens to groups of tenants when they say something isn’t right.”

Natasha Elcock, Chair of Grenfell United, the bereaved families and survivors’ group said: “People were raising the alarm about fire safety in Grenfell before the fire, but they were ignored and belittled. The current housing regulator did nothing for us, it was entirely invisible. And two years later, despite all the promises, we still hear from people across the country who are not being listened to about their homes.

“If we want to stop another Grenfell fire, we need serious change – change that will genuinely make a difference to people living in social housing. We need a new system, not a rebrand of the current one. The government introduced a new regime for the banking industry after the financial crash, it should be doing the same for the housing sector. After all, what could be more important than people’s homes.”

Case study: Karen Connelly, 54, has lived in a block of council flats in South London for 13 years. For over a decade, Karen and her neighbours have been living with issues such as damp, faulty electrics and drains, and exposure to asbestos.

Karen said: “My flat flooded three weeks after I moved in, and there have been problems ever since. I’ve had to fight the council to remove asbestos, but it doesn’t end there. Everyone in this block has problems – whatever’s happened to me has happened to my neighbours too. I’ve worked non-stop to get redress, and I’ve become a spokesperson for others too.

“In 2011, I took legal action over the state of my flat and faulty electrics. Shortly after that, I met a mother with a new born baby living in a room covered with damp and mould, which motivated me to keep going. The injustice of it gets me. We’re let down by the system. That was how the residents of Grenfell were failed – no-one was listening to them.”


Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

9:12 AM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Surprised that no one has commented on this.

Has to be a plus point for Shelter and Polly Neate that they/she are going after the government / social housing providers as well as the PRS.

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:27 AM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Well it has taken a long time to get Shelter interested in this. Some of us have regularly told Shelter that they should be looking to what is happening in the social sector. Even Shelter must now acknowledge that the problems in that sector are far more serious than those in the PRS. Let's hope they lay off us for a bit.
Unfortunately, however, they have done an incredible amount to wreck our sector - having the ear of Government they have promoted or agreed with the worst policies against private landlords in history.
What we need now is for them to start to acknowledge they were wrong in supporting policies such as Section 24 and to completely halt their interference in our sector. I also hope that their focus now on the social sector positively improves tenants' lives but I doubt it as they have no track record in that.

terry sullivan

9:45 AM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Is polly a real name?

Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

9:48 AM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 13/06/2019 - 09:45
I cannot see why 'Polly' shouldn't be a real name. Why do you doubt it?

Frederick Morrow-Ahmed

11:03 AM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 13/06/2019 - 09:45
The only name that isn't real is "Shelter".

They don't provide shelter for anyone.

It's a gross misrepresentation. They are soliciting charity money under false pretences.

If they changed their name to something more appropriate and relevant, such as "Tenants Advocacy Group", or similar, then they can campaign for whatever they believe in, without the subterfuge.

Such as, Tenants' Paradise for all. Preferably with no rents payable!

Geoff Cunningham

12:05 PM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

That sounds like a long overdue reform. What is also long overdue is a wholesale revision of our building regs. They are not fit for purpose in a high fuel cost environment. Grenfell Tower was inspected 16 times when the cladding was installed and passed building regs.
Build to modern standards like Passiv House and the need to heat a house is removed. Retrofit properly and you can get near that goal.
If a house is fully insulated, draft-proof, and has heat recovery in the ventilation system you don't need to add heat except in extreme weather.

Old Mrs Landlord

12:31 PM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 13/06/2019 - 09:45
Polly is a real name in its own right but historically was also often used as a diminutive of Pauline, and may still be for all I know.

Seething Landlord

13:04 PM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

At least under the Fitness For Human Habitation Act the tenants can now take direct action against Social or Local Authority landlords. Hopefully Shelter will be as supportive in that area as they are against the PRS - by all accounts there will be plenty to keep them occupied.

They don't need a new regulator, just help from Shelter in enforcing their rights under the existing system. A few rent repayment orders and awards of damages should soon focus the minds of the rogue landlords in those sectors.

Old Mrs Landlord

17:19 PM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 13/06/2019 - 13:04
I think you may be gauging the reaction of social landlords by the yardstick of individual private landlords. The difference with council and housing association officers is that it's not their money so they have about as much incentive to avoid fines as workshy tenants who get all their income from the state (i.e. the taxes of those of us who work) have to take care of their landlords' properties.

Seething Landlord

18:40 PM, 13th June 2019, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Old Mrs Landlord at 13/06/2019 - 17:19
I think you are underestimating the effect of senior managers and/or councillors being exposed to adverse publicity and the hostile questioning that would inevitably follow a successful claim against their organisation. It might not be their money but life for them could become very difficult.

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