The executive of Shepherds Bush Housing Association (SBHA) have been condemned as “unfit to govern” by some employees and tenants horrified at the landlord’s culture of mismanagement.
Examples of failings provided to SHAC include incorrect service charge bills being sent to around 900 leaseholders over the last eight years.
Among the estates affected were the Central West estate, where invoices have gone missing, Issigonis House (pictured above), where a contractor charged over £1,000 to leaseholders for not being able to access the property, and William Perkins Court where charges by the managing agent were passed on to leaseholders without being audited for accuracy.
In some cases, SBHA did not hold the necessary documentation (a valid Service Charge Certificate), and should not therefore have passed on any charges at all. In other cases, SBHA declined to send out ground rent notices, and instead added the costs onto leaseholders’ service charge estimates.
Physical and Economic Harm
The housing association’s failing management is putting its tenants at risk of physical harm, as well as economic hardship.
In April 2020, the Regulator of Social Housing published a finding that SHBHA had “failed to meet statutory requirements in relation to electrical safety and asbestos safety. We concluded that this represents a breach of the Home Standard and that there was a risk of serious detriment to tenants during this period.”
According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos can cause serious and fatal diseases which often take a long time to develop and are therefore a hidden hazard.
SBHA provides homes to over 5,000 residents and has an operating surplus of over £9 million. Responsibility for governance lies primarily with the board and executive.
Matt Campion leads the executive team. According to the organisation’s biography, Campion apparently has a “track record of success in improving customer service, performance, efficiency and in organisational change”. Tenants speaking to SHAC have reported little evidence of this.
Campion earned around £150,000 as SBHA chief executive in 2020, but is also on the board of Newlon Housing Trust (where he also chairs the Residents’ Services Committee), earning him a further £7,300 per year.
Also on the executive team is chief finance officer, Paul Weston. Weston previously worked at another association, Housing 21, which was publicly criticised by the Regulator for overcharging tenants approximately £3 million and for charging rents “above the rent cap on a number of extra-care schemes.”
SBHA has also made basic rent-setting ‘mistakes’. Tenants in one-bedroom properties have been wrongly charged rents for two-bedroom homes. One insider said “Shepherds Bush’s data is just awash with errors”.
Overseeing these problems is Russell Caller, Chair of the SBHA Board. He earns £10,000 for his part-time role at SBHA, but this isn’t his only source of income. He is also a lawyer at Gillhams Solicitors based in north west London, and is an accredited mediator at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution.
SBHA has recently expanded its development activities to build homes for sale at full market price, not the sub-market rents and purchase prices of social housing.
One tenant points to this commercialisation as the reason for a decline in standards at the association, triggering a steady drift away from its founding principles of providing social housing at genuinely affordable levels.
As happens all too often with expanding housing associations, the focus on building for the open market is married to a declining interest in the quality of homes and services.
SHAC will continue to support tenants and residents at SBHA, as well as all housing associations failing to treat tenants and residents appropriately.
4 August 2021
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.