Tenants and residents from a wide variety of housing associations have agreed to hold a coordinated service charge ‘strike’ under SHAC’s banner.
Action is being taken by residents frustrated at their landlords’ failings in relation to extortionate or erroneous service charges, disrepairs, shoddy maintenance, and cladding.
No Other Choice
Residents described how their problems are compounded by the sheer rockface that they are expected to climb when they try to resolve the issue directly with their landlords using the complaints system.
Residents also find approaching the Regulator of Social Housing or Housing Ombudsman largely futile. Successive cuts in their remits have rendered them generally unable to offer satisfactory protection or route to resolution.
Equally appalling were residents’ descriptions of how their MPs and councillors were regularly dismissed by housing association executives who consider themselves increasingly above accountability.
Coordination and Support
The newly formed strike network will enable coordination for those who want to take part. Participants will include tenants and residents from a wide array of housing association landlords who pay their own service charges. It will also absorb those already in dispute with landlords and currently withholding service charge payments.
If you would like to join this action, please add your details here. We will contact you separately with the next steps.
Those whose service charge is paid through the benefits system but who dispute the charges being applied by the landlord were referred to the template guide and letter (here) so that they could write to their councils challenging errors or overpayments.
The network also offered those involved in the action wider support and publicity. There were many proposals for support, including sharing Facebook and Twitter posts highlighting the action, and contacting local MPs and the press.
SHAC’s action was also supported by the Unite Housing Workers Branch and Defend Council Housing.
The Mad, Mad World of Housing Association Landlords
Residents reported many disturbing accounts of the deplorably low standards being offered by a range of landlords. Hyde Housing, Clarion, Notting Hill Genesis, L&Q, Tower Hamlets Community Housing and One Housing Group (OHG) got special mentions.
Some stories were downright comical. One tenant told of an incident two years previously where residents on an estate exercised ‘Right to Manage’ and dismissed OHG as managing agent. Nothing was heard from OHG in the first year, but two years later, glossy brochures containing service charge bills landed on their mats. It a story that epitomises the extent to which service charging has grown out of control.
Further updates and resource materials are now being developed.
25 May 2021