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Council houses and responsibilities of the council?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by marymoocow, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    My friend moved into a new council flat earlier this year, after years of hell with drug dealers etc where she previously lived. I know it needed a lot of decorating doing, that has taken a year to do because of a lack of funds, but I didn't quite appreciate the state the flat was in when she was handed the keys. Basically the previous tenants had been druggies who trashed the flat. Whilst the council made good missing or damaged items like doors and electrics, they basically gave her an allowance for paint and told her to get on with it. So far that is fine as there are council cut backs and it gave her the choice of colour scheme. However this flat had sh*t smeared all over the walls and ceilings which my friend had to clean herself. Surely the council had a duty of care to at least clean the place so it was habitable so my friend wasn't exposed to hazardous waste, never mind the extra nasties that could be in the waste of a druggie. She is quite vulnerable and had I known what she had to do, I would have kicked merry hell with the council, or are my expectations too high?
     
  2. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    No, I would have presumed the same as you did. I am sure that round here council properties have to be made up to a certain standard before people move in. As you say, your friend is vulnerable - did they know this? I wonder if it would have been different if there had been children involved (I presume there weren't).

    If the council let her move into a property smeared with excrement, then they are no better than the unscrupulous private landlords we hear about.
     
  3. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Yes, they certainly did.
     
  4. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Good grief, MM! Where is your friend's council flat? The 'H' blocks at Long Kesh? Just around the corner from us are some houses that the council rent out and some of the people you see coming and going form them have to be seen to be believed. The front garden of one of them looks like Steptoe's yard.

    When I started at Uni, in the mid 70s, the Accommodation Office was offering what were euphemistically called 'difficult to let' council flats to students, at 'low' rents. I had a look at one of these at the end of my first year and, judging by its condition, I thought farm animals had been kept in it. It seems things haven't changed much in forty years.
     
  5. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Yes, the council should have cleaned it. I'm surprised that the workmen who replaced doors etc. agreed to work in such conditions. The paint voucher set up is pretty standard these days.
     
  6. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I am really shocked and surprised to hear this. Of course your expectations aren't too high. The council would be on the case of a private landlord if he expected someone to live in conditions like that. Someone hasn't being doing their job properly before the keys were handed over.

    Did she take any photos of the condition the flat was in when she moved in?
     
  7. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    On television programmes you often see 'trauma' teams go into council properties to do a clean-up before a property is re-let when it has been left in a disgusting state. They wear proper protective clothing when dealing with human waste and drug paraphernalia - it is a high risk environment.

    I'm really shocked too that she was left to deal with this herself.
     
  8. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    I'm glad it isn't just me. She isn't technically vulnerable in the legal sense. However she is not from this country originally and therefore is a bit ignorant of expectations and rights, is heading towards retirement, isn't very assertive, is in debt and has some ill health. I hope that it wasn't because she is black. I get the impression that the council workmen did minimal work. I don't think it occurred to her to complain about it, as she comes from a country with far worse housing and she works as a health care in the hospital, where she spends most of her day wiping bottoms.
     
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Maybe the Equalty Act 2010 would help, unless of course this council treats everyone so appallingly.

    Given the quality of some councils, this disgusting experience doesn't surprise me. Perhaps councils should stop pretending to be commercial organisations employing parasites with cretinous job titles to get past the Hay scheme and get back to looking after people.
     
  10. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    In my experience of council houses being cleared and cleaned before the next tenant, this would be done before the house is allocated, therefore the issue of who the next tenant is not an issue. My experience is also that a good done is done.However,I live in Scotland,so things are done differently uphere. The council workers would come to do the work,not a private agency.
     
  11. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    The council where I lived in Kent had no housing of its own. All social housing was provided by housing associations. However applications for these properties had to be made via the council, so it caused a bit of confusion among some who still perceived them to be council properties.

    The point about this is that the quality of any home on offer were the responsibility of the particular housing association that owned it.

    Now that I work for a housing association, I've been given a better insight into how things work, at least in the association I work for, but it seems logical it would be similar in other associations.

    Housing association properties are broken down into estates which contain a number of properties. Each estate has a manager who is responsible for ensuring the condition of the estate is maintained to a high standard and for dealing with any issues the residents experience. There's a requirement that all issues are dealt with, based on the priority that issue presents. Urgent matters such as a failed boiler have to be attended to within 24 hours. Less urgent, but pressing matters, must be dealt with within 3 days and things that need attending to but won't be causing immediate hardship have to be sorted within a month.

    It ultimately boils down to the competence the individual estate manager has in carrying out his or her job, but the estate manager answers to a regional housing manager who oversees around 15 estates with a view to ensuring as far as possible, the same standard of service exists throughout the region.

    Of the various estates, some contain rental properties, some are leasehold and some are a mixture of the two. Rental estates present different issues to leasehold estates where the residents tend to move less frequently, since they have to find someone to sell their property to before they can move. The housing association's income comes from the service charge and it's conditional on the lease that any outstanding payments will be deducted from the sale proceeds. We have a few empty properties on my estate, which is a leasehold one, brought about through their owners dying or being transferred to extra care nursing homes.

    Rental properties are different, in that the housing association's income comes from the rent. Empty properties don't bring in any income, so there's pressure on the estate manager to ensure they are occupied asap, preferably within a week of the previous tenant leaving. In the majority of cases, the properties have been kept in good condition by the tenants and little needs to be done to meet this timescale. Obviously in a situation where the tenants trashed the property, it takes longer, and in a scenario such as the one presented by the OP, I can imagine an inexperienced estate manager bowing to the pressure of having the property occupied as a priority over ensuring it is in a fit state to be rented.

    This would be a disciplinary matter in my housing association if a complaint was made and found to be justified.

    My experience of councils taking private landlords to task over sub-standard properties has been positive, so it's difficult to imagine they wouldn't apply high standards to their own properties, nor demand them for the people they refer to social housing institutions. As I said earlier, someone hasn't done their job properly and needs taking to task over it. This shouldn't be a reflection of what to expect from social housing.
     
  12. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    You have a good point DOY. Although she had to apply to the council, it could well be HA, I don't know. Either way I would expect the mess to be cleaned before a tenant came in.
     
  13. Paradoxicalgirly

    Paradoxicalgirly New commenter

    I live in a HA house - I moved a few doors down last year. We cleaned the house. The housing officer came and had a look round to make sure it was OK but no-one from the HA went in and cleaned it. The house we moved into had been empty for a few months and was a bit of a tip and we had a big cleaning job on our hands and are in the process of Doing it up, but it's going to cost us a small fortune. Our HA now don't do some of the maintenance that they have done in previous years, and is now the responsibility of the tenant. We used to have a gardening company come and look after the communal grassed areas, but they've cut back on that and we're having to do it.
     

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