By guest writer Fiona Downs
I became a Clarion tenant via a mutual exchange in 2019. Before the move, I notified Clarion I was registered disabled and would require adaptations to be able to function in my home just like anyone else. I also explained that I care for an autistic family member. My housing officer said that this wouldn’t be a problem and the exchange went ahead.
Once I’d moved into the property, I realised that a lot of repairs were needed. These included dealing with black mould in all windows, an earwig infestation, crumbling steps, broken floorboards, a leaking bathroom, and a faulty heating system. Social Services visited to assess the property and added that our kitchen needs to be updated as it is rotting in parts and impossible to clean properly.
I notified Clarion of this and they said they would arrange for a surveyor to come and inspect my home. A report was also commissioned into the adaptations I would need relating to my disability.
A year on, and most of the work needed to make the home habitable and get it adapted to my needs has yet to be done. Clarion has twice rejected the proposed adaptations, and has even refused to accept that a new kitchen is needed. Why am I waiting?
The state of my home would be unsafe for any tenant, and no-one should have to live in an unsafe home.
For those with disabilities however, especially conditions which result in a greater susceptibility to infections and respiratory illnesses, the effects of such disrepair can be particularly hazardous. For those with autism and similar syndromes, it is important to keep stress to a minimum, the very opposite of what we’ve had to endure.
Money is not the issue. Clarion has a surplus of almost £300 million, so it has the funds to make the changes needed. But Clarion seems to be an organisation led by people who believe social tenants should be grateful for whatever they get.
A War of Attrition
The last twelve months have felt like a war of attrition, with my landlord hoping that I’ll give up and go away. Certainly the battle for every small repair or adaptation has had an effect on my mental and physical health. At times I have felt utterly exhausted, bruised, and worn down. But I will not go away. I will not give up.
There are many others like me. My situation is not unique; it is replicated across the housing association sector. By joining SHAC, I am linking with others in the same predicament. Together we will become strong enough to make sure every home is fit for habitation, and that disabled people get the home adaptations they need.
Join us for the SHAC online Safer Homes conference:
Housing associations too often fail to provide the safe, secure homes that people need. Landlord complaints procedures don’t work. They are deliberately exhausting, demotivating, and fruitless. But we are not powerless; we can organise collectively to bring about improvements.
- SHAC Safer Homes Conference
- 6pm, Thursday 28th January 2021
- by Zoom – email firstname.lastname@example.org to register
3 January 2021