Tenants’ complaints ‘still not listened to’ after Grenfell

10 Jun 19

Social housing renters are still being failed by poor regulation two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire, a charity has warned.

Issues with social housing are being reported to councils and housing associations but being ignored, housing charity Shelter has claimed today.

One in 10 tenants have had to report the same problems more than 10 times to their landlord, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the charity.

Shelter also found that 56% of social renters in England – five million people – have experienced a problem with their home in the last three years, including hazards, gas leaks and faulty lifts.

The YouGov survey for the charity shows that over the same period more than 400,000 people encountered an issue with fire safety. The poll heard from 11,000 adults, of which 1,000 were social renters.

The charity claimed the figures represent “poor regulation” and has called on the government – alongside campaign group Grenfell United - to introduce an entirely new consumer regulator.

Shelter noted that the current regulator of social housing – Regulator of Social Housing - exists mainly to oversee finances and lacks visibility with 72% of social tenants in England having never heard of it.

The survey uncovered a “deep mistrust” in government since the Grenfell Tower fire, with just half of tenants saying they trust the government to keep social tenants safe in their homes.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Social tenants living in Grenfell Tower raised serious safety concerns before the fire, but they were ignored. Two years on, social renters are still being failed by poor regulation and people are still fighting to be heard.

“In the wake of food scandals and financial scandals, the government responded with new regulators to protect consumers, and that’s exactly what we need for social housing. It cannot be right that scores of complaints and problems that affect whole blocks of flats, like faulty lifts or gas leaks, go unheard. We need a new regulator that’s firmly on the side of tenants.”

Natasha Elcock, chair of Grenfell United, said: “If we want to stop another Grenfell fire, we need serious change – change that will genuinely make a difference to people living in social housing. We need a new system, not a rebrand of the current one.”

The charity acknowledged that government has proposed a new building safety regulator but feared that this will not go far enough to protect health and safety of tenants.

Separately, Labour’s shadow housing minister John Healey called on the government to get tougher on private block-owners who have not yet removed Grenfell-style cladding, by threatening to take them under council control. 

He said: “Two years on from the Grenfell Tower, concerned residents are still living in homes that may not be safe and many are having to pay for interim safety measures such as 24-hours fire wardens.

“Enough is enough. Private block owners should be made to replace this dangerous cladding, or face councils taking over ownership of these buildings to get this vital safety work done.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “No-one should be forced to live in unsafe housing and we are working closely with Grenfell United and others to ensure social homes are safe and issues are resolved quickly.

“In our recent Social Housing Green Paper consultation we set out proposals to rebalance the relationship between residents and landlords, to tackle stigma and ensure residents’ voices are heard  - and we will publish our response before the summer recess.”

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