SHAC’s expose of Riverside’s plans to restrict tenants’ access to justice has been picked up by Inside Housing Magazine. The article also reveals that Riverside and its co-conspirators have hired a city lobbying firm to help them prevent tenants making disrepairs claims in court.
In October 2021, SHAC reported on a leaked Riverside internal report which explained the landlord was working with other housing associations to give tenants and residents less access to justice when they suffer disrepairs. The group was chaired by Riverside and has grown steadily since its formation.
Their excuse used by the consortium is that settling the claims is costing them too much money, blaming no-win, no-fee lawyers for the rise in cases.
It does not seem to occur to the executives that they could take work away from laywers by making the repairs before tenants need to sue.
Now, Inside Housing magazine has reported:
“a consortium of associations had contracted a public affairs agency [Connect PA] to develop an “influencing strategy” to reduce inappropriate claims … In the document, the association labeled the rise in housing conditions claims across the sector an “epidemic” that it said was being “driven by unscrupulous claims management companies”.Inside Housing
In total, eight housing associations are paying the lobbying firm. These are Riverside, ForHousing, Onward, Prima, Regenda, Salix Homes, Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group and Torus.
In a lame response to being found out, Riverside responded:
“housing associations have been working to settle these claims outside of court for a number of years in good spirit – with a view that reputational risk outweighed the financial risk.”Riverside reported in Inside Housing
They claim that their actions “are not in any way an attempt to undermine the rights of tenants”, although this exactly what will happen if their plans are successful.
Initially it looked like the consortium of associations and their elite lobbying firm would have their way. In Autumn last year, government announced plans to cap the award of legal costs in housing conditions cases, aiming to deter no-win, no-fee lawyers from taking them on. But following exposure by SHAC (and now Inside Housing), government has not announced a date for the introduction of the cap.
Read Inside Housing’s full report:
Block the Cap
As a recent SHAC article by guest writer Carl Davis explained, housing association tenant and residents are driven to use no-win, no-fee lawyers because access to free legal advice and support has been cut back by successive governments. Combined with protracted disrepairs which blight tenants’ lives, and the reluctance of housing associations to maintain their properties, tenants are left with no alternative.
There is still time to prevent Riverside and the other housing associations from restricting tenants rights. SHAC is lobbying to raise awareness of the plans, and to press for more investement in repairs and stronger tenant empowerment. Join us.
1 February 2022
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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.