Never underestimate the stupidity of social landlords!

It’s that time of year when you are confronted with a plethora of articles predicting what does the New Year hold for social housing. Complete twaddle and not worth reading for one simple reason – they ALL concern what does the New Year hold for social landlords yet never what the New Year holds for social tenants.

(One reason outside of the stupidity and complete lack of thought from social landlords that is!)

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Tenants are not even an afterthought for these social landlord commentators and no other industry or sector has such a devil may care attitude toward its customers as social housing does.

Don’t misunderstand the same plethora of superficially good yet wholly vague articles about measuring social impact or added value or any other such meaningless term as while they read good they are all geared to help landlords get more funding or more kudos or PR rather than helping or supporting the social tenant – to be then used as excuse for ever more rent increases and service level reductions which are the issues that really matter to the tenant.

You know simple things that matter to the tenant such as don’t take piss with the rent level and do the repairs our legally binding contract called the tenancy agreement says you must do but don’t!

The alleged 1% imposed rent reduction on social housing rents has seen housing associations cut repairs by 14% yet actual average rent levels have increased and by £1.73 billion since April 2016 when the 1% imposed rent ‘cut’ (ahem) began. In the last year the same housing associations who cry poverty publicly and repeatedly cut services due to this claimed 1% ‘cut’ have increased their surpluses (profits) by 15.6%! Some poverty eh and how we would all like a 15.6% increase in income … yet I doubt we would have the deceit to cry poverty if we did!!

All of the above are facts and can be seen here with full evidence to support and the New Year will be more of the same for the social tenant with rents increasing and services and staffing being cut further – which is one thing you will not read in the plethora of what does the New Year hold for social housing articles.

ALL of the above facts did not emanate from some fake news site or from reds under the bed commies or Marxist / Neo-Marxist sources reader; they ALL came from 2 sources in the ultra right wing bastion of capitalism called Moody’s the credit ratings agency and from the Tories own official statistics!

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Your landlord however may try to say they are fake news in order to cover their lies and deceits they say to the social tenant because these figures, these FACTS all paint your social landlord as deceitful.

You will read such deceitful arguments prefixed by it has been a difficult year for social landlords with Government polices blah, blah, blah, that will NOT mention the 15.6% increase in profits made by housing associations during that year. The social tenant is being asked to sympathise with their claimed social landlord for this miserly 15.6% increase in their profits in such a difficult trading year! Tenants are being hoodwinked by snake oil salesmen in other words.

The social tenant may be ‘lucky’ and the social (ahem) landlords may slowly begin to realise that the 1% above inflation rent increases they lobbied Government long and hard for are in fact self-defeating because it reduces the number of prospective tenants then can get to fill their 440,000 or so new tenancies each year. The ‘luck’ comes in when the landlords realise this business idiocy of what THEY lobbied for and dear social tenant, be prepared for your landlord to say we will NOT introduce the above inflation rent increases because we have social purpose coursing through our veins.

If you are really ‘lucky’ social tenant you will be told your benevolent landlord has decided NOT to impose the above inflation rent increase that the GOVERNMENT insisted on. Yet make no mistake it was the housing associations that lobbied for the CPI+1% rent increases and who were euphoric in their public announcements over this … but now oops realise that such increases are self-defeating and will cost THEM more with longer void times and greater admin costs in re-letting these 440,000 new tenancies per year!

Of course the landlord will not inform the social tenant that they are business stupid and they should be more careful what they wish for just as the social tenant will NOT be informed that their landlords made an average 15.6% EXTRA profit during the last difficult trading year.

Last night I had a Twitter discussion with one chief executive who did not believe the £1.73 billion extra income that social (ahem) landlords had received in rent – and I think genuinely did not believe it. The initial objection was well we haven’t increased our rents which, like the vast majority of landlord think, is a typical response. If we haven’t done it then other landlords have not is a huge assumption and a hugely errant one. The FACTS of the matter will also trump any such assumption.

Then this HA CEO digressed and said but we have 800 homeless families in the locale and we must build build build to solve this homeless ‘problem’ … that again exposed the lack of genuine thought and analysis of HA CEOs.

I asked what percentage of these 800 homeless families could AFFORD a social rented property and especially if the majority of them are benefit households? With the overall benefit cap policy and the ever increasing average social rent soon to rocket with the CPI+1% rent increase the issue of AFFORDABILITY had not been considered – plus ca change! – it was all the same old housing association build, build, build strategy which all housing associations have been inculcated to believe from the Svengali David Orr as head of the National Housing Federation and build build build will NOT solve the homelessness ‘problem’ because those homeless families could not afford the social rents!

And who benefits from more and more housing to rent? Yes the landlords but NOT the tenants who cannot afford the ever increasing rents that pay for this expansion of house building!

Landlords in social housing are blind. Look at all these homeless people we must build build build they say! Yet what they build is not affordable so it is like saying look at all these poor people walking – Let’s build them gold-plated Ferrari’s!!

To be fair this HA CEO was shocked that the rent roll had increased by £1.73 billion (yes that is BILLION) during a time of the imposed 1% rent cuts. Yet no more surprised than the reports a few months ago (here) of one HA CEO being flabbergasted that her housing association had evicted double the amount of tenants as the year before. I don’t need to make any detailed comments on how the hell could the CEO of a housing association not know this during the year of the 100% increase in evictions in her organisation!

We are back to the we don’t do it therefore others don’t do it dictum which is hugely errant and incredibly naïve, yet characterises UK social landlord think. Back to the hugely naïve thought that says all social landlords are the same and they are all benevolent and riddles with social purpose and all of the other myths the social landlord sector repeat ad nauseam and believe irrespective of what the unambiguous facts say.

Another aspect in saying that is I know that many housing chief executives do actually care and do believe in social purpose and however way you wish to frame the language. I also know a few who are heartless and ruthless too and this latter group are increasing. Many chief executives are stubborn and dogmatic in the extreme in the belief that digital solutions will solve everything – they won’t of course and even if digital could it would be solving everything for the landlord and not for the customer or tenant. Other chief executives see such digital champions with a sense of idolatory too, they revere what they think will flow from very clever (though woolly and vague) digital presentations and other fur coat and no knickers gimmicks their ‘idols’ present with the fanfare of the best snake oil salesmen.

Yet all of that opinion of mine counts for nothing. The only things that count is the reality as seen in the facts as the facts are those pesky things called numbers which also conclude that 2 + 2 equals 4.

The same numbers reveal that a housing association chief executive can more easily ‘shine’ and have idolatory groupies when they are in charge of 70% or 80% of all rented housing in their locale – a very different issue in the likes of Blackpool which sees over 70% of all rented housing being with private landlords … which also makes the local councils mandated housing strategy much more difficult to work or effect change as these documents are wholly reliant on a rag tag and bobtail mottley crew of hundreds of private landlords.

Yes the social landlord sector does think housing is the same in every locale (London excepted) and further fail to consider that what others do in one locale hasn’t a hope in hell’s chance of working in their locale. Those damn pesky numbers really do spoil a hell of a lot of good myths don’t they?!

Talking of good myths – enjoy the plethora of articles on what will 2018 hold for social housing – that is social landlords not social tenants and be very careful of your salt intake – and do have a Happy New Year, though if you are a social tenant I strongly suspect you will not!

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