Monday, June 30, 2008

Housing Associations are “Public Bodies”

Many housing associations appear to be in shock after a High Court ruling that their tenants can now take their landlords to a Judicial Review in a similar way as local authority tenants.

Inside Housing this week has headlines such as “Ruling threatens HA independence” and “Landlords teeter on brink..” while the normally sensible editor, Kate Murray, has an article titled “Freedom fighters face new threat”?

I am not sure that this is actually the end of the world, as we now know it. No doubt if possible, there will be some sort of appeal and maybe a clause or two in the Housing and Regeneration Bill could change things. However, very significant sums of public money are spent by housing associations on services, so having the possible brake of a judicial review, from time to time, should not be dismissed with so much “doom and gloom”.

Liberty legal officer is quoted in as saying "The public will be delighted to see that human rights aren't just for criminal suspects but for everyone." Which I think is equally OTT.


Gastroentanella said...

I think you are right John. I have lived within a housing association in London for 12, and it's not been an easy ride, I have paid a high price for my low-cost housing. I have been inappropriately housed among people with severe addiction and mental health problems; I have lived without double-glazing overlooking four lanes of 24 hour a day traffic; I have never been compensated for damage done to my belongings because of poor maintenance and I have spent years paying for services that were non-existent. Social landlords of every type, be they councils or housing associations, can mess with people's lives and health (often vulnerable people) and should be regarded as public bodies, they are too powerful not to be subject to the same judicial oversight as any other public body.

John Gray said...

Hi Gastroentanella

I know a tiny % of JR's are silly but if a HA's done things properly in the first place, they would have nothing to fear from a review.

Anonymous said...

Hi John and Gastroentanella!

I have been a tenant now of three different HA's over the past 20 years and the last eleven (where I am currently)have been a really mind blowing opportunity to discover how bad so called RSL's can be. (And I thought it was bad before I moved here).
I totally agree with Gastroentanella and her experience, though I am lucky in the sense that my flat is quiet. I can only empathise with Gastroentanella.
However, the landlord has refused to do anything about the chronic damp so my piano is in storage and has been for the past two and a half years. I have carried on giving and organising concerts and proved that I can walk on water...but the stress and the anger that I feel (and the mould)is taking its toll on my health.
I have a solicitor...but this landlord appears to be not only above the law and beyond any sense of ethics and morals, but simply impervious to reasonable and tough requests to deal with the disrepair.
It is good to know that there is now a review but these organisations are all looking out for one another so what real chance is there for truly decent basic standards of housing provision to be put into practice?

Have started a blog -

Would welcome comments and suggestions,

Kind regards


John Gray said...

Hi Cathars
Please don’t blame the staff, no-one is perfect but some RSL’s (I don’t know anyone at Servite Thames) do treat their staff very poorly. They overload staff with tasks and simply don’t support or train them enough.

I would recommend using the internal complaints system and visiting your local Councillor and MP. It is a hassle and time consuming but RSL’s are concerned (quite rightly) about their public image. RSL’s who have poor service delivery usually have appalling relationships with local councils and MP’s. This has resulted in many MP’s (from all parties) wanting to have greater state control of RSL’s. RSL’s are beginning to wake up and realize that if they don’t improve their services then their independence is under threat.

The housing ombudsman (whatever it is called now) is also pretty influential, so follow up the complaints. Also, see if you have an active and independent residents association. You sound like the sort of person that would be a good tenant’s rep.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your reply.

I have already done the complaints procedure and contacted the local councillor and even the MP. Have also written to the Housing Ombudsman and Housing Corporation - all to no avail. Even been to the local newspaper.
Have letters from my GP, my local priest and Rabbi and now am going through the total time wasting stages of solicitor no 2.
The first one caved in straight away to Servite's insistent suggestion of their preferred damp expert who naturally gave them the report they wanted. He has done the same thing to a lot of I was forced to find another 'damp expert' after friends urged me not to give up - they have after all been here - they know what the flat is like - well anyone can see for themselves.
Servite take no notice whatsoever of anyone or anything. Instead they boast in their amateur newsletters how no tenants complaint is ever upheld by the ombudsman.
Charming don't you think!