Poor repairs are regularly highlighted to SHAC, with tenants and residents feeling helpless when they try to get their housing association landlords to address them. This week, a group of tenants have successfully compelled their local council, the London Borough of Lambeth, to take three housing associations to court for the condition of their properties.
The campaign group were all residents of the St Martins estate in Tulse Hill who had suffered damp and mould problems for years. The three housing associations, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Optivo and Notting Hill Genesis, were paid by the council to manage the estate.
The council revealed that three housing associations had consistently blamed those who raised complaints, alleging without evidence that the problems were caused by residents’ poor lifestyles. Read their account here.
The tenants organised collectively to challenge the landlords’ assertions and in 2020, an investigation by Lambeth council vindicated their action, finding “significant structural defects to the fabric of buildings” were to blame, rather than the behaviour of tenants.
Floodgates Open on Eddie Nestor’s BBC Radio London Show
The case was highlighted on Eddie Nestor’s BBC Radio London show (right) and prompted many listeners to call in with similar cases. Nestor was clearly shocked by both the severity of the problems, and the fact that the callers’ landlords were housing association.
Nestor said that this had shattered his view of housing associations as more responsive and compassionate landlord than private organisations. Callers also explained the ineffectiveness of systems for reporting problems through landlords’ helplines.
SHAC was interviewed as part of the broadcast. Click on the screen below to hear the SHAC exerpt. Catch the full broadcast here.
Challenge Through Collective Action
The discussion correctly highlighted that tenants and residents experiencing problems should:
- Contact other tenants and residents to form a Tenant and Residents Association, or just to act collectively on an informal basis.
- Always email the landlord, not just rely on recording the problem through a phone call.
- Keep a record of all correspondence sent and received.
- Contact their local MP and councillors to take up their cases.
Resources to help tenants and residents on all of these actions are available on the SHAC Resources page.
3 March 2021