The scandal of Local Authority housing

by Readers Question

7:14 AM, 23rd June 2017
About A year ago

The scandal of Local Authority housing

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The scandal of Local Authority housing

Readers of Property 118 will recall my previous article about the terrible tragedy of Grenfell. I pointed out that the reason Tenants in Local Authority Housing suffer inferior conditions to those in the PRS, stems from the Housing act 2004 and the exemption from licensing for Local authorities. Grenfell shows us that the act needs to be urgently revisited and legislation amended to remove this exemption forthwith.

Kensington and Chelsea Council which owned Grenfell spent almost 10 Million pounds on renovations which included the installation of the Cladding, which seems to have been a contributory factor in the rapid advance of the fire. Ten million of tax payers money squandered by the Council. It gets worse , this Council has banked reserves of £300 Million. The Chief executive finally went, his salary was £180K , earning more than the PM, as do most Chief executives of Local authorities.

Moving on to other local authorities , Salford, Camden ,Newham, Tottenham , Barnet and Plymouth all have something in common. They all have their Revenue raising landlord Licensing schemes in place to safeguard tenants against all those Criminal landlords in the PRS.

These councils also have something else in common, They house their tenants in Dangerous Ghettoes. Salford has 9 tower blocks with “Grenfell” style cladding, Camden has 5 tower blocks on the Chalcots estate, clad with the same flammable material ,Newham the First council to introduce borough wide licensing for Private landlords, house tenants in 3 tower blocks with Grenfell Cladding, Plymouth have 3 tower blocks as have Barnet, cladd with the dodgy material. Tottenham has a 22 storey High rise with this cladding also. Tottenham however may take legal action against the contractor for supplying this.

All well and good, but why did their Building inspectors sign off on this sham. The Councils have all failed miserably, It transpires that Grenfell had 16 inspections. Perhaps enough evidence may not be available for many criminal prosecutions, but there needs to be a massive cull, wholesale sackings of inept complacent Council staff. Forget the cuts argument Millions of tax payers money has been literally burnt purchasing and installing what is clearly a most dangerous material, banned in the US and Germany but signed off by useless overpaid public officials in the UK.

Unfortunately the scandal does not end with the above named authorities. Up to 600 tower blocks have had cladding so while they all may not have “Grenfell” cladding, this does not mean that they are fit for residential habitation. While other cladding may have greater resistance to fires, the nature of the installation means that a gap/void is left after installation which could create a tunnel for smoke and flames to rise. Furthermore few of these buildings, if indeed any have sprinkler systems. While this disgraceful situation has persisted, Councils like Durham Prosecute a landlord because she omitted to get a reference for a tenant in a terrace.

Amend the Housing act now, and remove exemption from licensing for Councils. Where authorities claim they do not have funds to retro fit sprinkler systems, sell their assets at discounted prices to the Private sector with stipulations to ensure full compliance with Fire regs. Local authorities rather than solving Housing problems clearly are part of the problem.

Larry



Comments

Mick Roberts

8:17 AM, 23rd June 2017
About A year ago

I was wondering when someone was going to bring this up.
Good on u.

Yes, us Landlords get subject to the rules, my houses are way better than most councils (building wise-Boilers, kitchens, windows etc.), yet we gonna be subject to Licensing etc., Why not the council who's houses are poorer?

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:18 AM, 23rd June 2017
About A year ago

Yes, Larry. The double standards are outrageous. I would add that there is also one rule for councils and one rule for the rest of us in terms of payment of HB. Private tenants and Housing Association tenants face the tenant being given the rent money and we then have to hope they hand it over (we have the responsibility for paying the mortgage but the power to pay it or not pay it is given to the tenants), whilst the councils don't have this system for their tenants, so their finances are more secure and they are in a better position to afford safety measures etc.

I also read that some flats at Grenfell had £35,000 spent on new double glazing. I have had large houses double glazed for way under £10,000. To spend anything like £35,000 is either corrupt (back-handers) or incompetent. Councils' management of social housing has been scandalously inept. And yet, as you say, they are always pointing the finger at us for minor infringements and punitive measures against us for tiny things (like submitting a deposit a day late could cost you three times the monthly rent) are encapsulated in law now and the law also allows tenants to stay for at least 5-6 months rent-free if they decide not to pay the rent. The whole thing needs an overhaul. But that would require someone with nous, integrity and excellent business skills to orchestrate. Which politician has that?

Robert Mellors

9:22 AM, 23rd June 2017
About A year ago

It is appalling that Councils and registered social landlords are exempt from the health and safety regulations that apply to private rented housing landlords. There should be "a level playing field", i.e. if a regulation applies, then it should apply to all residential landlords, not discriminate against one particular type of landlord.

Mandy Thomson

9:26 AM, 23rd June 2017
About A year ago

I haven't got time for full reply, but readers might want to also see this: https://nearlylegal.co.uk/aftereffects/

JB

10:13 AM, 23rd June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "23/06/2017 - 09:22":

Here, here. A level playing field for all.

Mandy Thomson

16:34 PM, 24th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "23/06/2017 - 09:22":

Social landlords are subject to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (brought in at the same time as Decent Homes) but guess who's responsible for carrying out the inspections and enforcement..? Hardly objective.

Robert Mellors

16:58 PM, 24th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "24/06/2017 - 16:34":

I would have thought that cladding a building in flammable materials, while at the same time creating a chimney/flue effect, (or even doing either of these things without the other), would constitute a Category 1 hazard?

Mandy Thomson

17:08 PM, 24th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "24/06/2017 - 16:58":

I wonder how often council's carry out HHSRS inspections on their own housing?

Robert Mellors

17:30 PM, 24th June 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "24/06/2017 - 17:08":

They should not need to do a HHSRS inspection for anything to do with "improvement" works, such as cladding, as (unlike most private landlords) they have the "in-house" expertise to know what is likely to cause a HHSRS hazard so should ensure that they are not carrying out works that would cause such hazards. I guess they cannot issue themselves with a Prohibition Notice, so I wonder who is the authority that issues HHSRS Notices to Councils? Or would it be up to individual tenants to sue the councils under the Defective Premises Act? I bet the government won't be making Legal Aid funding available for this.


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