After a massive year in the social housing sector, what can you expect to see in 2022?
It's fair to say that 2021 was a reasonably rollercoaster year for the social housing sector. With questions about fire safety and the zero-carbon requirements that loom ever closer, change was well and truly afoot.
However, neither of the two problems mentioned above took centre stage in 2021. That spot was, of course, occupied by the exposure of terrible housing conditions in which some were being forced to live. As the ITV and Dan Hewitt, in particular, led an all-out assault on those providing way below par housing. The country tuned-in to the coverage and began to highlight problems of their own.
In this short but sweet blog, we want to offer some insight as to what we can all expect from 2022. Take our hand as we walk through the social housing sector for the coming year.
Housing associations could hold back on development to make right the problems they face.
It's no surprise that housing associations have pledged tens of millions to make right the fire safety issues that many of their properties face. It will also come as less of a surprise if they have to reach deep into their development pockets to do so.
With the net-zero movement looking like it will cost a lot more than initially imagined, social housing providers are going to have to fix up or fall short. Expect more borrowing and the cost of reaching the governments' targeted number of affordable homes to be covered by private entities.
It was announced in 2021 that Kate Bosworth would take up the director of consumer regulation role at the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). The RSH immediately pushed forward with its suggested increased regulation in terms of tenant satisfaction. Social landlords are to be judged on five specific themes. Repairs, Building safety, respectful and helpful tenant engagement, responsible neighbourhood engagement and effective complaint handling. Therefore cranking up the pressure on the large associations who are failing those most in need.
Is there more social housing pressure forthcoming?
It was Daniel Hewitt and the power of ITV that seemed to finally bring the issue to national attention. Despite this behaviour going on for years prior. However, the national coverage has forced action, and it's nothing more than tenants deserve. Social landlords have shuffled off into the darkness to do some much-needed soul searching. However, the RSH and housing ombudsmen have no intention of resting.
The pressure is on for social housing providers. They must now tick the boxes to ensure they are compliant in terms of housing disrepair. Or risk facing the consequences of their actions. Expect more fireworks this year as companies similar to Clarion are put under the microscope in a similar fashion.
If you are suffering from housing disrepair, follow the link below and find out how we could help you.
Could Antony Hodari Solicitors be the answer to your housing problems in 2022?
The year starts again with a flurry of promises of change. Whether it's the strict new diet, the plan to start driving or the often short-lived 'Dry January'. It's just what we do as humans, roll out of bed on January 1st with a head full of expectations and aims, and we are all about that positivity.
If there's an opportunity to grow, we suppose the new year is a great place to start, but for us, it's each and every day, and that's precisely what we are promising. However, the difference for us is that we aren't promising one another as we pass in the office; we are making the commitment for you. Whether you are a current client, a reader of our blog, or who knows, maybe a future customer. We will keep improving what we do for you, and that's what will make our service unique this year.
The city and us.
You may have noticed we are the first to sing and dance about being from Manchester. In fact, most of our dancing is done on tables, that's what they're for, right? But the truth of the matter is that we offer our services across the UK.
We are far more active in London than in Manchester, but that's just down to where the people need us most. Within our service, we offer national surveyor coverage, meaning that no matter where you are, we can get one of our experts out to you to analyse the disrepair you are living with day-to-day.
What's the plan?
The truth is in 2022; we want to produce the same us on a more extensive basis. With all of the same exceptional customer service and user experience, with added capabilities and reach. That's why we continue to expand our offering as a company and build our in-house team so that you're in the safest hands possible.
So, that being said, if you know anyone that needs us this year, follow the link below and find out about our recommendation scheme.
Social Housing Investment: A Step In The Right Direction?
Is the increase in social housing investment enough to rectify the issues of 2021?
The end of the Twenty Twenty-One saw an incredible increase in social housing investment, and, of course, that's something to cheer about. However, we must not lose sight of the importance of continued investment in the most troubling times.
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the world we once knew in countless ways. One of the most prominent casualties has been the housing sector. Of course, it's vital that we understand the darkness; otherwise, we would have no knowledge of the light, and in these times, we need to take those little glimmers as hope.
It was the Welsh government who, in the final working weeks of twenty twenty-one, ploughed money into the housing package once more. This time it was an additional commitment to helping solve homelessness and to reducing carbonisation by the years 2024-25. Alongside previous housing sector funding increases, including money attributed to building safety risks, the total package is worth over £1bn.
Despite the above being steps towards a brighter destination, the bulk of the investment has been allocated towards social housing. An investment of £310m a year for the next three years highlights the intentions of those in power. Undoubtedly pushing us towards a better future for the sector.
For those outside of the housing sector, it's vital to stress the importance of this figure. For perspective, only five years ago, the Welsh government were spending £70m per year on the same problem.
What will the investment do?
The investment will provide a solid starting point for social housing providers. Let's be honest, that is needed now more than ever. The role of social housing has to play in national poverty is vital, and therefore, these investments are clearly a step in the right direction.
However, it's unlikely that the investment will be beneficial without sharpening up on governance and ruling against those social housing providers who allow their standards to become inadequate.
That being said, the problems of 2021 are lessons from which we must learn. They are the light leading the way towards a brighter tomorrow. It's time for housing associations to step up and provide housing that benefits communities across the board; 2022 is here, and it's time for a change.
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Housing nightmare is costing the NHS £1.4 billion per year.
Nightmare housing is costing the NHS £1.4 billion per year.
Families are suffering in silence whilst landlords leave their homes in a state of complete disrepair.
An ITV article this past week reported that poor housing costs the NHS nearly £1.4 Billion a year. The report focuses on a Building Research Establishment (BRE) finding that highlighted that the figure is spent treating the illnesses and ailments caused by housing disrepair. The figure included all sorts of hazards such as damp & mould, excessive cold and falling down the stairs.
The report went on to say that most of the housing disrepair problems are "generally, not expensive to rectify compared with the long-term cost to the NHS and society if they are ignored." Highlighting that most of the time, it boils down to landlords wanting to avoid rectifying simple problems.
The highest cost was the £857 million said to be spent on treating residents whose health deteriorates due to excessively cold homes. However, this is a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of those unable to work due to disrepair. This was announced in the BRE report at a whopping £18.5 billion.
Housing - Solving the problem
The shocking figure is that to solve the problem; it would only cost landlords on average around £3800. The issue of poor housing isn't a new phenomenon, as highlighted by a statement made by Jane Goddard. The current Director of Corporate Affairs for the BRE said: "This hasn't changed; it hasn't improved since we did the first survey in 2015. This isn't a problem that's going to mend itself.
What about us?
As you probably know, at Antony Hodari Solicitors, we specialise in providing five-star service to tenants in need. As a housing disrepair specialist, we have helped over 100,000 clients and managed to obtain over £100 million in compensation. So if you know anyone who needs us, we're here and waiting to hear from you!
Gove gives warning to social housing providers
In his first week in the job, new housing secretary Michael Gove took aim at the quality of social housing. Describing the current quality as 'scandalously poor', Gove also suggested that incentives may be implemented for standards to improve.
The new housing secretary went on to say, 'there are people who are living in conditions which are overcrowded...living in conditions affected by damp and other factors, which hold back the flourishing of children and families."
In recent months, primarily supported by the investigations of ITV News, social housing has come under increased scrutiny. Despite setting out a proposal to increase regulations in the sector back in October 2020, no date has yet been provided for the legislation needed.
Gove went on to comment on how he believes some people may be stuck in a situation whereby they live in social housing for most of their adult lives. Therefore the need for adequate regulations is a must to protect those in such a situation.
When summarising what his department will be working on in the coming months, Gove stated. "investing more in urban regeneration...a better deal for those in social housing...and helping those who currently rent to own their own homes."
"Our mission will also mean keeping faith in the victims of Grenfell. honouring their memory, making everyone's home greener and sharing the cost of that work more fairly."
Mr Gove made all the right noises in his opening statement; however, how long change will take and indeed how stringently legislation will be enforced upon social housing providers is very much a case of, let's wait and see.
If you are a tenant who is struggling with the standard of your home, we are here to help! Simply fill out our contact form, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
New rules mean that housing associations could be frozen out of National Housing Federation (NHF) membership.
Being responsible for over 800 different housing associations certainly isn't easy work. However, 2021 has witnessed the NHF holding their hands up and accepting their mistakes. It has also produced new regulations that will hopefully see the standard of exempt accomodation rise in the future.
It's no secret that the NHF would have done anything possible to avoid another year like 2021. The federation has promised changes across the board, resulting in better living standards for all. It has been said that they will hold the right to refuse entry to any association looking to enter the sector for the wrong reasons. The NHF will also remove existing members if they don't adhere to the new proposed ethos.
Problems with exempt accommodation
The change comes in response to the amount of exempt accommodation across the UK. Exempt accommodation is often used to house those who have little to no other options. For example, prison leavers, refugees, substance abusers, etc. Due to the minor level of care the associations provide, those living in exempt accommodation cannot access housing benefits. Housing associations are therefore charging more than regular landlords.
The NHF has received numerous reports highlighting some exempt accommodation as unsafe. Tenants have also claimed they have not received the support and help they were promised.
Whilst looking into exempt accommodation, they have also found links between not-for-profit housing and for-profit landlords. The problems are there for all to see, and the NHF has acted as quickly as possible to rectify them. With the new regulations coming into play as early as September.
In a statement from the chair of the NHF, Baroness Diana Warwick, she highlighted the great work of some providers.
"I am immensely proud of the amazing supported housing providers we represent, which deliver excellent services against an incredibly challenging environment. But they must not be confused with the actions of landlords entering the supported housing market for the wrong reasons. Primarily to make a profit instead of helping individuals and their local communities."
As The NHF strengthen their stance on those cutting corners, it's time that the negligent and rule-bending associations do likewise.
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Housing Association falls foul of the Regulator of Social Housing for basic level errors.
Eldonian Community Based Housing Association (CBHA). A Liverpool-based housing association which is responsible for just under 400 homes, was found non-compliant this past week.
More housing associations have come under scrutiny in the past few months. Largely in the shadow of what is best labelled a 'disaster' few months for Clarion. The housing giants failure to provide adequate living conditions for tenants has led to national criticism, and rightly so! Furthermore, it has also tightened the screw on other negligent associations. Meaning tenants may finally start to see the conditions they deserve.
The main issues arose for Eldonian, when it was found they had failed to disclose a governance report. The report from October 2020 had not been witnessed by the regulations committee. The 2020 report concluded... "the management committee did not understand its responsibilities. Nor was it meeting the regulatory standards".
2020 had seen the retirement of multiple vital figures within the Eldonian structure. All responsibilities were then left to a board of interim officers. The regulation committee identified "a serious breakdown in the governance, operations and control framework of the provider…potentially putting tenants and social housing at risk".
The Regulator of Social Housing also stated they "will continue to engage with Eldonian CBHA as it seeks to become compliant with the regulatory standards." They will also "consider whether any further regulatory action is required."
When those in control of the living conditions of so many people can't keep their own house in order, what hope do those tenants have? It's continually upsetting to see so many housing associations getting it wrong. However, with our help, we aim to make sure all of those wronged tenants can get the support they deserve.
How Antony Hodari Solicitors will welcome 'normality' with open arms.
It's no secret that the last year has been a testing one for many of us. As businesses have fought to keep their heads above water, people have lost loved ones, and the lives of many others have been tipped upside down. At Antony Hodari solicitors, we welcome back whatever 'normality' we are about to feel with open arms.
You've probably noticed that we are tentative to use the term 'normal' in any manner. This is mainly due to the uncertainty of how long the positivity will stay around. But also, there's a sprinkle of being generally pessimistic as we know things won't be precisely what we remember any time soon.
For us as a solicitors
It's been a strange period for us too. As a solicitors, our work revolves around doing all we can to prevent the vulnerable from living in conditions that can negatively affect their health. Therefore, we have worked pretty much throughout lockdown; housing disrepair is not something that can be overlooked, and allowing people to struggle in silence is not part of our remit!
We are steadily attempting to keep moving forwards with our work and growing as a business whilst we go. We understand first-hand how difficult it can be for tenants to find the necessary help, which is why we always stress that we are here, no matter morning, noon or night!
Life in Manchester
As you may know, we are a solicitors firm based in Manchester, we love our home, and we are not afraid to shout about it. As of late, feeling the life within the city streets and slowly returning to our office, hs been, in short, pretty great! It's strange how you miss the little things when they are taken away, isn't it!
Solicitors - our work in the UK
Despite calling Manchester home, we operate as a housing disrepair specialist solicitor across the UK. In actual fact, only a minority of the work we do is inside the city walls; therefore, no matter where you are, we are available to help.
You don't need us to tell you how good we are. Head across to our reviews platform and hear what our customers have to say.
Well, 2021 is an interesting one for us as a disrepair solicitor. This is due to the fact we have shown exponential growth throughout the opening third of the year. Behind the scenes, at our Manchester HQ, we have been fine-tuning how we deal with each of our client's claims. Therefore we are now able to say we offer a smoother and more efficient process than ever before. So, if you know anyone who may need our help, don't allow them to suffer in silence. There's no charge for getting in touch with us, and we operate on a solely no-win-no-fee basis. So...what are you waiting for?
The number of building surveyors employed by the council has tumbled in the last decade.
After Inside Housing conducted a study on the number of building surveyors working within councils up and down the country. They found that in 2010 the number was 707 employees; however, that number was just 513 at the end of 2020.
Why is this important?
Nationally we are in the midst of a safety crisis when it comes to building regulations, and therefore now, more than ever, we need those safety specialists.
In the past decade, the Grenfell disaster opened our eyes to the glaring problems in the sector. When John Hoban, the man behind signing off on Grenfell Tower, cited staff reduction as one of the reasons behind the failure. Councils should have stood up and listened.
How could the problem affect you?
One of the worst examples of reduced numbers in staff happens to be right on our doorstep. In the last decade, Trafford Council has dropped from TEN surveyors to only TWO.
Across the country, over a third of the councils have cut their workforce by a third in total. Meaning that the surveyors left working within our local councils have a startlingly increased workload. Increased workloads mean less time and effort is being attributed to important jobs; this is when failures happen.
In this sector, failures cost lives.
The reasons behind the decline in numbers.
The reason behind the drop in building surveyors is indeed a much larger issue. Most councils blamed national austerity, which has, of course, affected all sectors of local councils. A government requirement back in 2010 asked for building control services to become 'cost neutral' and that they certainly have.
Other councils have pointed to the fact that large amounts of building safety surveyors have indeed retired. The other most popular reason is that the wages they can allocate simply can't compete with the private sector.
This is no minor issue. Grenfell was a horrific example of how human failings can lead to the loss of life. These figures are startling and certainly don't lead to a restored faith in local authorities.
Proving Housing Disrepair
Proving housing disrepair can often be more difficult than initially meets the eye.
As a tenant you have the legal right to live in a home which means certain legislative standards. Ultimately your landlord is responsible for the dwelling in which you live and it's condition of upkeep. When it comes to proving housing disrepair on behalf of tenants we have been a sector expert for over 35 years. Therefore, you're in incredibly safe hands with us.
Notice is the main stumbling block!
When it comes to proving housing disrepair. It's absolutely pivotal that you can prove that your landlord has neglected to maintain your home. However, saying they have failed and contacting us without giving the opportunity to rectify the problems can be a major downfall in your case.
The defect must have been brought to your landlords attention, as it's unreasonable to expect them to make changes to something they are unaware of. After receiving a notice of disrepair which falls into the responsibility of the landlord. The landlord becomes liable for the damages. If they fall to make the necessary repairs you'll have a good claim. If you don't have the notice, the landlord may make the repairs, but it's unlikely you'll receive compensation.
Recording your correspondence.
It's often the case that we are contacted by clients who have little to no recollection of when they reported the disrepair. If there is also no specific date provided in the information we receive from the landlord, proving sufficient notice is almost impossible.
Therefore, when reporting the housing disrepair, we would suggest sending an email. That way you have a solid trail of correspondence between the landlord and yourself.
How vital is notice?
A housing disrepair claim can not be successful if the tenant can't prove they have give notice to the landlord.
What about damages?
The damages you receive are calculated based on the date that a reasonable landlord would have completed the repairs.
In conclusion, when it comes to housing disrepair claims, it's pivotal that you keep record of the conversations with your landlord. Sending emails and saving them will really benefit your claim. We hope you never need our advice, but you'll thank us one day if you do!
If the information above has helped you to understand how you may have a housing disrepair claim. Don't be scared to contact us. You could be owed thousands of pounds and not even know it. Contact Antony Hodari Solicitors today and we will do the hard work on your housing disrepair claim.