Tenants living in poor quality or poorly managed homes in Wirral could find their landlord 'named and shamed' as a new crackdown on failing social landlords gets underway.
In the most serious cases residents have experienced problems over an extended period, with missed opportunities by social housing landlords to resolve them. This has included basic repairs, leaks, damp and mould.
So far, 77 examples of social housing landlords have been 'named and shamed' by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, including some in Merseyside.
One such failure was by Onward Homes - which owns and manages 35,000 homes across 30 local authorities in the North West, including Wirral.
In December, the Secretary of State wrote to the Chief Executive of Onward Homes after a tenant was injured due to their failure to carry out repairs. The Housing Ombudsman found this to be one of the most serious failings, judging them guilty of 'Severe Maladministration'.
In a separate case, in Wallasey, four years after a leaking roof was reported to the same company, it still hasn't been fixed, as the image above shows.
The ceiling has since collapsed and has not been repaired after nine months. Buckets were required again on Christmas Eve, with additional problems of damp and mould in the property.
Serious failures or delays by social housing landlords have more than quadrupled in the past year, according to the Housing Ombudsman and the number of severe maladministration cases rose from 31 to 131.
Local Councillor Ian Lewis said:
"Housing associations benefit from millions of pounds from the taxpayer every year, either towards building new social housing or to support existing tenants with rent payments.
"Until now, the response from housing associations has too often been the lame promise to learn lessons. Clearly, the volume of failings now being published suggests lessons are not being learned.
“Those which are failing to provide a decent service will now be called to account to improve or face the consequences.”
“The chief executives of these housing associations won’t be living in such appalling conditions – neither should their tenants.”
Following the new Social Housing Act, tougher enforcement is on the way to tackle social housing landlords which are failing to take swift action.
Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of the Regulator of Social Housing, added:
“We’re gearing up to start our new programme of regulatory inspections from next April, and landlords will need to demonstrate how they’re providing good quality homes and services for tenants as well as meeting our governance and viability standards.”
In a further shift towards giving tenants more control, they can now contact the Housing Ombudsman directly if a problem isn't resolved by their social housing landlord, whether it’s a housing association or local council:
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 0300 111 3000
- Online: https://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/residents/make-a-complaint/
Previously, they had to go through a councillor or MP, often delaying or even preventing investigation.
The latest English Housing Survey by National Statistics found more than 10% of social housing did not meet the decent homes standard in 2022/23 - an increase on the previous year, including more houses affected by damp.