When tenants and residents of SHAC’s Notting Hill Genesis branch found out that chief executive Kate Davies was leaving her post, they decided to have a say in the qualities, experience, and priorities of the new leader.
Many of those living in NHG homes consider Davies’ tenure an abject failure. She has not provided the kind of landlord they want and need. Instead, the organisation has become more remote, more highly commercialised, and consistently neglectful of their needs.
To rub salt in the wound, Davies was awarded a CBE for her ‘services to housing’. The establishment has illustrated just how far their views and those of tenants and residents diverge.
Petitioning for Better
The group is petitioning for the new chief executive to have the qualities and experience they desire in order to make sure any changes under a new regime benefit them. They want the housing association to be built around their needs, not the financial interests of NHG’s city investors.
NHG Tenants & Residents Choice for New Chief Executive
Please sign the petition here
Very few tenants and residents trust the board to make the right decision alone. Their previous choice did little to launch improvements relevant to those dwelling in NHG properties.
Comments from NHG tenants and residents at a meeting of SHAC@NHG were scathing. Many noted that NHG’s decline began when it started to consider itself a property developer rather that a social landlord.
A particular concern was over estate maintenance and disrepairs. One tenant reported that “maintenance of NHG assets is very poor. We keep raising repairs that look small at the moment, but which we know will result in big costs if they don’t get fixed.”
Another noted how wasteful their planning is, and that “it makes no sense that NHG holds shared ownership of most of these properties, but they’re not looking after their assets.”
By far the biggest complaint was that the organisation doesn’t learn from its mistakes. One resident said “it looks like the same issues are coming up across properties. Unfortunately very little has changed since 1998, when I first moved in.”
Communication has deteriorated over the last five years according to another, who highlighted the devastating impact:
“It is so difficult, we have to wait weeks and months for them to react. We pay service charge but they do not give us any service, we report things that need to be fixed and they do not take any notice. It has always been bad but now is getting worse and worse. I am so much in despair.”Notting Hill Genesis resident
One commentator concluded “presently NHG is run like a circus!”.
These trends have led the people most affected by the appointment of a new chief executive to want a say over who is recruited. The petitioners are demanding someone who:
- Has spent a significant period living in housing association accommodation.
- Has a lot of humility, understanding, honesty, and integrity.
- Is not so crass that they would hold a party to launch their book on the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.
- Is empathic to the diverse backgrounds and needs of those needing and living in social housing.
- Is not self-serving.
- Is willing to take responsibility when things go wrong.
- Promotes staff on the basis of competence, not favouritism
- Has extensive experience in running an organisation with a good track record serving people.
- Understands technology and knows how to make sure the systems work.
Their priorities on appointment must be:
- Decent homes over commercial development
- Good communication with tenants and residents
- Monitoring staff closely and making sure they do their jobs honestly and properly
- Comprehensive auditing of all the functions of the organisation
- Ensure contractors do their jobs properly
- Invest in proper training for staff and contractors
- Take time to find out how tenants and residents are really experiencing day-to-day contact with NHG
- Making the complaints process fit for purpose
- Making NHG’s system transparent
- Establishing proper accountability for NHG’s actions
SHAC@NHG (Notting Hill Genesis) was formed to campaign for a better deal for its tenants and residents.
The primary improvements needed relate to repairs and maintenance, genuine tenant and resident engagement, and fair rents and service charges.
The SHAC@NHG group is open to all tenants and residents of the landlord and has begun meeting every six weeks. Register with SHAC to receive an automatic invitation to all meetings, and regular updates.
16 July 2022
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