Lewisham council tenant desperate for help?

by Readers Question

8:53 AM, 5th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Lewisham council tenant desperate for help?

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Lewisham council tenant desperate for help?

My sister is a Lewisham council tenant for over 25 years and for the last 8 months her life has been a living hell.  There is water coming into her property, the walls are wet the cupboards are rotting spoiling all her food, the flat smells, she is being sick from the fumes, they came and stripped all the walls put in humidifiers all this happened in early May, nothing else was done, now the water is flooding the floor they came and pumped it out next day the water was back.desperate

The council told my sister she can give up her flat and go into a old people’s home or sheltered housing, they are refusing to move her.

Let me tell you about my sister she is a retired nurse of 65, she is diabetic now because of what she is going through her blood pressure is very high her Dr is now worried about her heart and she is now on pills for depression.

I went on meetings with her housing officer all he says is that there is nothing he can do, but he does everything he can to stop her being moved.

Please if anyone can tell me what to do how can we make the council do the right thing, please let me know.

Joan



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:10 AM, 5th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Dear Joan,

I am very sorry to hear of the terrible situation your sister is in and it must be very stressful.

This goes to show how much pressure Social Housing is under and their lack of resources.

We know there are fantastic people at Lewisham as Ben Reeve-Lewis is a friend of Property118 although he runs a different department managing Private landlords. See >> https://www.property118.com/ben-reeve-lewis-on-landlord-tenant-relationships/19586/

I hope someone can help if you keep asking on your sister's behalf as when there is so much competition for attention sometimes persistence and the squeaky wheel pays off.

Mandy Thomson

11:43 AM, 5th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Joan

Sorry to learn about your sister. She could also sue Lewisham Council, as clearly they are failing in their duty of care as her landlord. As a small private landlord, I would never expect my tenants to live in accommodation such as you describe - that a large social landlord should provide such housing is truly shocking.

As your sister is old enough to be moved into sheltered housing, I believe it's reasonable for the council to offer her a transfer. They should in any case either provide alternative accommodation for your sister until her flat is habitable again, or pay for her to stay elsewhere. Private landlords have insurance to cover such contingencies; surely social landlords have this too?

While there is of course a serious housing shortage, elderly sheltered housing schemes tend to become available more often because the tenants either die or need to move into care homes (I know someone who lives in a such a scheme). If your sister is prepared to move to another borough this will give her more choice.

David Price

13:18 PM, 5th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Joan surely this is a case for Environmental Health? I am aware that Council Housing does not have to be of the same standard as private housing but the condition of your sister's house is well below any acceptable standard.

terry sullivan

13:23 PM, 5th January 2017
About 2 years ago

get a solicitor

Neil Hewitt

16:59 PM, 5th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Price" at "05/01/2017 - 13:18":

Council Housing actually has a higher set standard than that of the private sector, and many social landlords do set a higher standard, that that of the previously applied Decent Homes Standard, and conduct condition surveys of their stock, which can include The Housing Health and Safety rating System.
We only have the word of one person as to the condition of the property, with no validation, there will be another side to the story. There may be negligence, but that is not proven, the tenant may be responsible, and there could be valid reasons, rather than just sheer incompetency of the tenant, such as physical and or mental disability. It is common, for instance, that some tenants will refuse for repairs to be carried out. Such tenants do need help, but regrettably all too often such tenants can fall through the system, and the amount of paid help through social services is often inadequate to maintain a person's home.
Having inspected both private rented properties, and that of council owned properties (over 5,000) I have seen that generally private rented properties are not maintained to as good a standard as that of council owned properties, and that tenants in private rented properties have to deal with the insecurity of tenure. This is also stated in surveys such as The English Housing Condition Survey.

If the property is actually council owned (and not owned and managed by a registered social landlord), environmental health cannot take action against property owned by the council.

Carol Duckfield

9:54 AM, 6th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Neil I find your response interesting - I have two properties that are managed by housing associations and their repair and maintenance performance leave a lot to be desired some much so that one had been down graded by HCA and their accountability seems to be teflon coated even when it comes to no lights on stairwells that take months to resolve!

Yet wage bills are rising rapidly (top 10 CEO salaries are now over £250k with highest being £500k), nothing is done to resolve poor performing staff and sickness rates seem out of control. And lets no forget that the majority of the money they receive comes from the public coffers.....

My involvement activities have been a real eye opener on what is deemed acceptable accomodation, the investment a tenant has to make in kitting out their flat - carpets, curtains, electrical applicances etc and what the tenants responsibilities are during their tenancy

terry sullivan

10:12 AM, 6th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Carol Duckfield" at "06/01/2017 - 09:54":

social housing is a con--profiteering at taxpayer expense

David Price

13:06 PM, 6th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Hewitt" at "05/01/2017 - 16:59":

"Council Housing actually has a higher set standard than that of the private sector"
Like no need for CO detectors in social housing stock?

Standards should be identical as should enforcement, the owner of the property should be an irrelevance. Everybody should work to the same standard and have the same penalties applied for non compliance; penalties should be imposed on the chief executive of social or council housing, after all he/she gets paid more than the people who actually do the work.

There should be no favouritism in law.

Neil Hewitt

16:53 PM, 6th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Council housing stock is not supported by the taxpayer, there is something called The Housing Revenue Account, the previous contributor should state facts, and not mistruths., the money does not come from public coffers, with the exception of housing benefit, but that equally applies to private housing in the form of local housing allowance. many private landlords do profit from this tax revenue derived income.

CO alarms are being introduced by many housing providers, and it is also worth noting that smoke alarms have been in use in many council homes for longer than that of private rented homes. Often, electric works are carried out to the latest British Standards, in excess of identified hazards from the electric inspection report.
As with any legislation, there is always a reason for it's existence, namely that small percentage of private rented accommodation has been proven to have malfunctioning gas appliances, and that the production of carbon monoxide does occur, with the death of tenants.
There is no favouritism, just facts backed up by The Health and Safety Executive.
The discussion of chief executives salary is irrelevant, though if a private landlord had a portfolio of tens of thousands of properties, arguably he or she would expect a suitable income from their stock.
As stated before, I have inspected several thousand properties, both public, and private rented, there is a noticeable difference overall, and statistics back that up. But back to the original council tenant in this discussion, has there been any progress, or private action taken to date?

Jonathan Clarke

20:07 PM, 8th January 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Hewitt" at "06/01/2017 - 16:53":

Hi Neil

Two questions please

1) Do you know the basis of the thinking behind why the EHO are not allowed to take legal action against council owned housing stock. Surely they should self police themselves? I have several leasehold ex council flats where the council is the freeholder. The EHO occasionally serves me improvement notices even though i would argue it is the council that fails to maintain the structure which allows invasive penetrating and rising damp which leads to the notices . The council owns the flat next door which is in a much worse condition. So it seems a total abuse of process that the EHO can act against me but not the council themselves when it owns the freehold of both properties . Whats your take on it?

2) You say that council housing stock is not supported by the taxpayer but by the Housing Revenue Account and the money for this account does not come from public coffers. Where does it come from then? Private enterprise?

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