Flagship government campaign empowers social tenants to complain

Flagship government campaign empowers social tenants to complain

10:38 AM, 6th March 2023, About A year ago 3

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A new government campaign will urge social housing tenants to complain about substandard housing as part of its flagship ‘Make it right’ campaign.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove is urging tenants to make their voices heard by complaining to their landlord before escalating an issue to the Housing Ombudsman if they are unhappy with the landlord’s final response.

This follows action to protect social housing renters, including time limits for landlords to investigate and fix damp and mould under ‘Awaab’s Law’.

There are also mandatory qualifications now for social housing managers to ensure residents receive a quality service.

Images of black mould and leaking ceilings

The national campaign will be in six languages and use images of black mould and leaking ceilings on radio and social media platforms – including the neighbourhood app NextDoor.

The campaign will also fund training for Citizens Advice staff in two pilot areas – London and the North West – so they can support residents who have problems in their homes.

The Housing Secretary has also today demanded answers from Lambeth Council about its failure to handle complaints, following a severe maladministration finding from the Housing Ombudsman earlier this month.

That’s when the ombudsman called for radical improvements on damp and mould and complaint handling – just a year after the publication of a special report into Lambeth over complaint handling failure orders.

Social housing tenants are being let down

Michael Gove said: “Too many social housing tenants are being let down and ignored.

“This government is determined to stand up for them and give them a proper voice.

“They deserve a decent, safe and secure home, just like everybody else.”

He added: “So we are shining a light on rogue landlords that ignore their tenants time and again and allow families to live in disrepair.

“This campaign will make sure tenants know their rights and how to make a complaint – giving them the confidence to go to the Ombudsman and ensure action is taken.”

‘Social housing in the UK is far from where it should be’

Social housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa said: “What we’ve learnt is that social housing in the UK is far from where it should be, and tenants have been monumentally let down whilst enduring terrible living conditions.

“It’s clear things must change, this campaign is the start of that.

“The campaign makes clear that disrepair issues from damp and mould to collapsed ceilings must be fixed.”

He adds: “Tenants have a right to complain and be listened to, treated with dignity, fairness and respect but most of all live in a house they can call a home.”

Experiences of raising complaints with their landlord had been unsatisfactory

Findings from the government’s social housing resident panel found that 65% of members said their experiences of raising complaints with their landlord had been unsatisfactory.

Key issues raised by tenants include:

  • The time taken for complaints to be addressed and resolved
  • Disrespectful conduct, lack of communication, or inaccuracy of information experienced during previous complaints process
  • Lack of repercussions for landlords if residents are not taken seriously or complaints are not resolved satisfactorily
  • Burden and complexity of the complaints process.

Almost a third of all social renters considered making a complaint in 2020-21, but 27% chose not to because they thought nothing would be done in response, according to figures from the English Housing Survey.

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northern landlord

13:47 PM, 6th March 2023, About A year ago

All tenants have the right to complain to the council. If it is a PRS tenant and the landlord has done nothing the tenant can notify the Council who will come down on the landlord like a ton of bricks while complaints from their own council tenants are mainly ignored. Round here if a Council tenant complains about damp they get sent a tin of damp proof paint to slap on. Wiring repairs are done in unprotected surface wiring and many older Council properties would not gain an EICR certificate without spending a thousand pounds or so (hence social housing is currently exempt from EICR). So there is plenty of legislation already to protect tenants, it just needs enforcing. That almost a third of social renters considered making a complaint in 2020-21 and with 27% choosing not to because they thought nothing would be done in response is shameful. Councils must put their own homes in order first before pursuing the PRS. It’s just like the crime statistics. People don’t report crime because the police don’t respond (unless its hurty words of course). So the reported Crime rate drops, another police success story!

Suzanne Muna

15:56 PM, 7th March 2023, About A year ago

At SHAC we're a bit baffled as to how the government proposals can be described as 'empowering' social housing tenants and residents.

The conditions that Awab Ishak and his family were left to endure were already unlawful. There is already legislation in place to protect people from such an environment. It would be illegal to keep animals in those conditions, let alone people.

The problem is lack of access to justice. If Gove was serious in wanting to empower tenants and residents, one of the first steps he would take would be to restore and extend Legal Aid to cover housing issues and appoint lawyers specifically to take on housing cases on Legal Aid contract. It was his government that made the cut.

They could also for example set up an advocacy service to help tenants and residents navigate the complaints and legal processes, similar to Victim Support in criminal cases.

Most of all, he could speak to SHAC (instead of refusing to do so) and other tenant and resident campaign groups on how to make social housing landlords accountable. (shac.action@gmail.com)

Reluctant Landlord

10:49 AM, 8th March 2023, About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Suzanne Muna at 07/03/2023 - 15:56not lack of justice - this is a just a consequence. Root cause is standards not being met in the first place and councils not being held to account and made to carry out necessary works.
Tenants don't need 'empowering'. IF and WHEN they complain the issue seems to be a lack of follow up and action. Tenants also need to be reminded of their obligations too at the same time - its a housing CONTRACT between provider and tenant and both parties have responsibilities.

Structure this properly with everyone knowing where they stand and 99% of the 'issues' wouldn't make the light of day in the first place.

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