Genesis, Health and Safety, NHG, Notting Hill, Notting Hill Genesis

Flooded: A Notting Hill Genesis Tenant’s Soggy Story

By Mary Carter, Notting Hill Genesis tenant

My landlord, Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) has published its annual report for the last financial year. The document is full of self-congratulation and positive affirmation about how well the landlord is performing. But read between the lines and you’ll also spot some small pointers to the truth. In fact, there is a gaping chasm between the vision NHG wants to paint, and the reality of lived experience for tenants and residents.

Kate Davies: laughing all the way to the bank

Kate Davies is the current NHG chief executive and earns a salary of £175,000 per year. Maybe this is why she smiles?

She says in the document that at the centre of NHG’s vision is a promise to residents to ensure “a personalised service with a single point of contact”.

She waxes lyrical on how their highest priority is to deliver the “services and support that our residents need”, and is “very proud of the success we have had.”

Yet the report goes on to admit that only 68% of their customers were satisfied with the services they received, that NHG was subject to 55 investigations by the Housing Ombudsman (up from 47 in 2018/29), and that 6 of these cases resulted in a finding of maladministration. This is not a record to be proud of.

Putting NHG’s satisfaction rates in context, 32% of residents in NHG’s 66,000 homes are not satisfied with the service they receive. That’s more than 20,000 dissatisfied tenants. Not quite delivering the services and support that residents need then?

My experience will give a taster.

Flooded Out

A couple of weeks ago our homes in West London were flooded after torrential rain. The water rose very quickly and within less than an hour, it was three-feet deep outside our house.

Only the Fire Brigade came to our rescue. No one from Thames Water. No one from Westminster Council until after 9pm. By the time they arrived, we were freezing and soaking wet in our homes.

Inevitably, the electricity supply was affected so we were also without power. We couldn’t even make a hot drink, let alone think about getting a bath.

The response of Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) speaks to their inadequacies as a landlord. The flooding was on Tuesday. They arrived at some point on Wednesday. Their surveyor (who just introduced himself as ‘The Surveyor’) spent a couple of minutes looking at the wooden floor and said they would replace it. But when the operatives came to remove it, they only took some of it away, not the bit around the toilet, nor the still soaking wet skirting boards. They promised to deal with the skirting later. In the end, I removed it myself.

A couple of days after the flood, with no prior contact, a housing officer phoned to say that environmental cleaners were outside my front door. This turned out to be three men with two mops, a broom, and a container of chemical cleaner. The mop head was already filthy. It was black with dirt. All they did was introduce more contamination into my home. Like the skirting, I had to do the work myself and clean everything up.

NHG’s intervention, far from easing my problems, just compounded them at the worst possible moment.

Mixed Messages

On top of the inadequacies of support, there were all the inconsistencies in support. Some were offered a daily allowance for food, but you had to be rehoused in a hotel to receive it. Those of us who remained in our homes were not offered vouchers, even though we can’t cook because the kitchen stinks and is probably still contaminated by the filthy flood water. Some have been told that NHG will help with the cost of electricity for running dehumidifiers, others have not.

Notting Hill Executives don’t get their hands dirty

Despite the severity of the problems caused by the flooding, none of the NHG senior managers or executive have bothered to come and speak to us. We are after all, only social housing tenants. This, I feel, is why the executives think it is OK to treat us this way.

Resources are certainly not a problem for NHG. The total group surplus for 2019/20 was just over £98 million. Its core operating surplus, excluding sales activity, climbed to £132 million in the same period.

It is my belief that the disregard and disservice arise from an attitude that considers social housing tenants unworthy. It is this attitude that really makes me angry. I am a social housing tenant, but I pay rent. I have not been given this home out of charity. I have a right to live here. I have a right to be treated with dignity and respect.

And I am not a ‘customer’ as NHG likes to describe us. A customer can pick and choose where to give their custom. But a tenant can’t just gather their belongings and move elsewhere on a whim. Moving home is considered one of the biggest stressors you can face, alongside the death of a loved one, or divorce. It involves a huge amount of money, time, energy … and an alternative. Many of us have nowhere else to go.

Stop Talking, Start Listening!

NHG has plenty of good things to say about itself. It now needs to start listening to its tenants, to the 20,000 who have not had a good experience, or got the service they should have. If Kate Davies starts doing that, she would be setting an example across the sector, and that really would be something to be proud of.

My main concern is now how long will it take to repair our homes, and what the standard of those repairs will be . Personally, I am terrified. I have waited 20 years for my cyclical repairs and have little faith based on past performance that these repairs will be any different.

27 July 2021

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

4 thoughts on “Flooded: A Notting Hill Genesis Tenant’s Soggy Story”

  1. I’m appalled at reading the story here and reviews from other tenants on trust pilot. It’s New Year’s Eve and here I am desperate to get into my home with my severely disabled daughter, but the lift broke down during the time we have been out today. I returned home at 4pm with t 14yr old, she is a wheelchair users and she and the wheelchair are a combined weight of 110kg, so no chance of getting up to our flat without the lift. Why put physically disabled tenants on the first floor, within a building that has only one lift. I’m distracted as have been waiting, walking around the block the cold and darkness for emergency lift repair, which should have been here within 4hrs. It’s now been 5.5hrs. My neighbour on ground floor kindly let us inside her flat, but after one hour we had to leave as my daughter is so upset and got so worked up that she had a seizure. I could see that my neighbour’s young kids were getting worried, so I assured her we would be okay and left. My daughter has been seated in her wheelchair for 9 hrs, I will have to go to a&e, as she can’t stay seated for much longer. Even if I could go to a friends we still can’t lift her out of her wheelchair as she has a metal spinal rod, it would be harmful for her, not to mention she is very heavy and is quadriplegic so can support even her own head. I’m utterly distressed and have called repairs so many times I’m done. Same excuses. Im daughter is crying again, we are going to a &e, which is just not what we need with her vulnerable health. We must be moved to a ground floor ASAP.

  2. I have lived in a LEAKING Notting hill property for 12 years!! The ceiling falls through EVERY 2 YEARS! They have NEVER investigated the source of the leak! They have threatened to make me & my baby homeless THREE TIMES

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