By Steve Sheldon*, a Guinness Partnership resident
I live on the top floor of a block of flats with more than 60 homes. It’s a building owned by Guinness Partnership, a housing association that has lost its social purpose.
Guinness enjoyed a good reputation in the past, but over time, we’ve seen a decline in the standard of service we get. Now, the building is neglected and being run down.
Guinness feels free to ignore most of our complaints, and only responds when the Ombudsman or courts get involved. They do the minimum because they think we are powerless.
Rat Infestation and Leaking Roof
We have a rat infestation affecting all households that we reported to our landlord more than five years ago. Rats are a real risk to health. They carry ticks, mites, and fleas which can bite and infect us.
Through parasites, droppings and saliva, they can cause a long list of illnesses. Some diseases inflict lifelong harm, like Wiel’s disease transmitted through rodent urine. Wiel’s can be a killer. In serious cases, it leads to meningitis and kidney failure.
Rats also destroy our property by chewing through furniture and wiring. They are a hazard that should be taken seriously – but not by Guinness.
These problems are bad enough for someone like me. I am in good health, but one of my neighbour’s is disabled and bed-bound. He doesn’t have a strong immune system. The risk posed by rats is even greater for him. He is cared for by his wife who already has enough to deal with without the worry of trying to stop the rats getting into their home, and of course a constant battle with their landlord.
Other neighbours have roof leaks which have also gone on for years. We report them regularly but get the run around from Guinness with promises of repairs that never materialise. In the video, you can see how close the water is to the light fitting. I’m certain the Guinness executives don’t have to live with these risks.
The Guinness Partnership owns or manages over 66,000 homes, housing 140,000 people. As a major landlord and public housing provider, they have a responsibility to keep people safe in their homes.
Official letters from Guinness now tell us what a great business they are, while they let the fabric of their buildings rot. They tell us about their great service when they leave tenants and residents at risk of real harm.
Generating income is now the top priority for Guinness, even at the expense of our welfare. In 2021-22, the Guinness Partnership’s overall surplus was £44.6 million. And the chief executive Catriona Simons took home £300,000 last year.
All of my neighbours are pensioners, and some are particularly vulnerable. They are scared of the damp getting into wiring, or causing mould in their homes. They’ve also been scared to speak out in case Guinness retaliates.
Getting Organised with SHAC
Things are changing though. The suffering being caused by Guinness’s neglect is immense. The fabric of the building is being left to rot. We’ve won two court cases against Guinness but all our landlord is interested in is the amount of compensation they’ll have to pay. They’ve shown no interest at all in making the repairs.
We’ve had enough of this treatment so like other SHAC groups, we’re getting organised. For all of us here, this is the only home we have. We’re now creating a new group with other Guinness tenants and residents so that we can act together to stop the harm they are doing.
If you are a Guinness tenant or resident, please join us so that we can speak with one voice and tell Guinness that enough is enough.
* Not his real name.
22 August 2023
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