South West London Law Centre wants to take joint action to give evidence to the new House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry examining the quality and regulation of social housing in England. ‘As a law centre we don’t always have capacity to take the housing cases to demand that tenants individual homes are fixed.’
SWLLC says that it is outrageous that every day social housing tenants are forced to seek legal advice as their landlords are not properly fixing the issues in their homes.
- ‘Legal advice to fix housing conditions can be hard to get and the mechanisms that tenants are offered to get the housing issue addressed themselves – don’t always work.’
- ‘This has a horrendous consequence as’ they ‘are forced to live in properties with damp, no heating, no hot water, insects and serious housing issues that impact’ their health.
- ‘We need all social housing to be fixed.
- Social housing to have better funding to fix major issues and better management of finances so these issues don’t arise.
- We also need the mechanisms that complaints are dismissed with such as the Housing Ombudsman to actually work.’
What Could Be Done?
SWLLC wants to know what people think about highlighting the issue together.
Here are my suggestions re-action in Croydon.
- SWLLC organise a meeting with tenant members of the Council’s Tenants and Leaseholders Panel and the new Housing Improvement Board to discuss the issues involved in the Council’s management and maintenance of its tenanted stock and how this could be used in evidence.
- SWLLC tries to identify tenants of housing associations in Croydon and invites them to a meeting to discuss their concerns with their landlords.
- Councillors and MPs involved in casework with social housing tenants distil what the issues are that they have tried to deal with and share these with SWLLC and submit evidence.
- Ward Councillors organise meetings with the tenants in each ward to discuss the issues with a view to assisting the preparation of evidence by the tenants as well as the Councillors.
- SWLLC, Ward Councillors and the MPs meet to share information with a view to deciding what evidence to submit to the Commons Committee.
- Tenants involved in campaigns against Brick by Brick schemes submit evidence on the way their views were ignored and the extra safeguards needed.
- Town Hall trade unions prepare evidence based on the experience of their members in trying to support tenants in a dysfunctional Housing Department.
- The environment groups including Croydon Climate Action submit evidence relating to heating and insulation, the Decent Housing Standard and climate change in dialogue with SWLLC and the tenants engaging with SWLLC.
These are the questions the inquiry is asking:
- How widespread and serious are the concerns about the quality of social housing?
- What is the impact on social housing providers’ resources, and therefore their ability to maintain and improve their housing stock, of the need to remediate building safety risks and retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient?
- Is the current regime for regulating social housing fit for purpose?
- How clearly defined are the roles of the Regulator of Social Housing and the Housing Ombudsman?
- Does the current regime allow tenants to effectively resolve issues?
- Do the regulator and ombudsman have sufficient powers to take action against providers?
- Will the reforms proposed in the social housing White Paper improve the regime and what progress has been made on implementing those reforms?
- What changes, if any, should the Government make to the Decent Homes Standard?
- Should the Decent Homes Standard be amended to include energy efficiency and other means of mitigating climate change, and if so how?
- Should all providers of social housing, not just councils, be required to register with the regulator?
- What challenges does the diversification of social housing providers pose for the regulatory system?
The Committee’s guidance on submitting evidence can be seen at