Social landlords slammed by Ombudsman in housing report

Social landlords slammed by Ombudsman in housing report

9:17 AM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago 8

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The Housing Ombudsman has published a scathing report highlighting the failings of 27 social housing landlords in their response to leaks.

It says that leaks lead to issues with damp and mould which is a ‘significant driver’ of complaints from tenants.

The ombudsman detailed cases where tenants faced years of inaction from landlords, with leaks causing extensive damage and displacement.

“In one case, we found a resident decanted for nearly two years whilst the landlord failed to deal with a leak,” the report revealed.

The report also criticises landlords for “poor diagnosis, excessive delays and a failure to consider vulnerabilities” when dealing with leaks.

‘Cause acute distress and disruption to families’

Richard Blakeway, the housing ombudsman, said: “Leaks can be complex and challenging. These cases show how leaks can also cause acute distress and disruption to families and the sector needs to be more consistent and robust in response.

“There are common strands of learning from these cases and various moments when the landlord could have taken decisive action to make things right for the resident and restore trust in its ability to resolve these issues.

“Too often the basics are not being done right in these cases and that compounds what is already a complex area to deal with.”

He added: “Landlords must identify these key touchpoints during the lifetime of these cases, and act appropriately to mitigate the impact on families and households.

“These cases also reveal in stark terms that some landlords are not ready for Awaab’s Law and how widely variable landlord policy and practice can be, which is neither desirable nor sustainable.”

‘Little to no action being taken’

The report also states: “We found residents chasing landlords repeatedly with little to no action being taken. This resulted in ceilings collapsing or extensive damage to personal belongings and furniture.

“The themes in this report are clear, including poor diagnosis, excessive delays and a failure to consider vulnerabilities.

“The sector should be handling leaks more effectively under obligations in the Landlord and Tenant Act and the introduction of Awaab’s Law will require proactive and timely resolution.”

The social landlords highlighted in the ombudsman’s report are:

  • Arhag Housing Association
  • Birmingham City Council
  • Clarion
  • Ealing Council
  • Gentoo Group
  • Hackney Council
  • Haringey Council
  • Homes Plus Group
  • Irwell Valley Housing Association
  • Islington Council
  • Lambeth Council
  • L&Q
  • Metropolitan Thames Valley
  • Milton Keynes Council
  • Newham Council
  • One Housing Group
  • PA Housing
  • Peabody
  • Platform Housing Group
  • Redbridge Council
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • Sanctuary
  • Shepherds Bush Housing Group
  • Southern Housing
  • Tower Hamlets Council
  • Wandle
  • Welwyn Hatfield Council.

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PETER harvey

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10:04 AM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

i have noticed this many times housing association and councils having to be chased in court for repairs to be done after months of tenants suffering and finally being awarded compensation.

if it was a private landlord they are down on them immediately when tenants complain about lack of repairs and the time involved. the tenants go to the cab or shelter for advice and they deal with it for them.

however the housing associations and councils get away with it for years.

Sally Robinson

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10:23 AM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

I paid for 'my electrician to go and check and fix faulty wiring in my friends council rented property. The fault was dangerous, and there was no EICR certificate for the property. We did not dare tell the council for fear of retributions from them!

Could the gentleman consider surveying the EICR and gas safety situation with Social housing providers as well?

Beaver

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10:43 AM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Sally Robinson at 11/07/2024 - 10:23
I have never understood why successive governments have introduced policies that attack and penalise the majority of private landlords and subject them to unnecessary costs that do not benefit tenants when there is a bigger problem going on in the social housing sector.

If the government wants to introduce *any* new housing requirement to impose upon landlords, private or public, then it should impose it across the board and include the social housing sector. If the social housing sector objects to it because it cannot afford it then it is not a reasonable burden to impose on private landlords. Minimum EPC at Band C for example. The government should fix the problems that need fixing first, rather than going on an anti-landlord crusade.

Reluctant Landlord

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12:42 PM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

There should be one law that fits all - renting housing standards should be the same across the board and applicable to every property equally.

Anything less is pure TENANT discrimination, mandated and upheld by the government itself. How can one tenant's safety be deemed less important than another just by default of who they rent from?

Council/social tenants are getting a poor deal - and they know it, but they are stuck. They can't afford to rent anywhere else (private market) and they know the council have nothing better to offer them.

Just like in the PRS when you have more legislation it comes at a cost. If Awab's Law is going to cost to
It's only going to get worse....

Beaver

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13:53 PM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Reluctant Landlord at 11/07/2024 - 12:42
Absolutely. And it's more than just that. If the government introduces new costs and the social housing sector says it cannot comply with them that provides a sanity check for the whole housing sector. A lot of us weren't convinced by the way the EICR regulations were implemented for example. A lot of us faced additional costs for properties that were already safe and all that we did was to pass the costs on to the tenants (of course). The same applies with EPC regulations.

Zen

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14:55 PM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

I can't understand why social housing providers spend so much on trying to get away with doing nothing, legal fees, inspections when nothing is fixed etc. Just send a decent plumber/roofer round and get the problems fixed. I'm pretty sure lawyers and court fees cost more than plumbers.

Am I missing something??

Do they employ their own workmen who must do s*d all or are there some companies making a mint out of inspecting leaks but doing nothing? What's the point? Just send a decent builder to fix problems as they occur like PRS do.

In the long run a simple cheap job like clearing a gutter of fixing a leaky pipe can easily turn into something major if not fixed. It's simpler and cheaper to fix a problem then all thr costs associated with not fixing them.

What's the mentality of these housing associations? It's a bit like the post office spending millions on court cases for years, just fix the problem with horizon it'd be cheaper surely.

Is my view to simplistic?

Reluctant Landlord

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15:14 PM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Zen at 11/07/2024 - 14:55
not simplistic - idealistic.

It's about numbers/financial risk.

On the basis of probability not every tenant will go through the process of a full complaint and then take time to then go via the SO. It can take weeks/years.

Easier (and cheaper) to wait for the SO to make a decision and then pay what is usually a nominal fine. Any bad press is accepted and the cycle starts over again...

Beaver

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15:51 PM, 11th July 2024, About A week ago

Reply to the comment left by Zen at 11/07/2024 - 14:55
I think the answer is we don't know. It might be that the average profile of a social housing tenant is different to that of the average profile of a tenant in the PRS but I don't know. Where I live there are council houses, the people who live in them are mostly normal working people and some of them have been able to buy their council houses for up to a 30% discount.

But who knows, maybe there is a difference in profile and perhaps on average the people who can't afford to rent in the PRS can't afford to keep up their part of a tenancy agreement. Or perhaps the mentality is different.....landlord does everything.

But either way if standards are applied to the PRS then they should be applied to social housing, and if the social housing sector says it can't comply with them it's probably because some of them are unreasonable.

The recent introduction of the EICR regulations did nothing to improve my tenants' lives, but it did put their rent up.

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