SRS SLUMLORDS will carry on abusing tenants with impunity

Yesterday, Sunday 12 September 2021 ITV broadcast the squalor in the SOCIAL rented sector and this in-depth six months in the making documentary could yet won’t be seminal and the beginning of a realistic factual consideration of what we misterm as ‘social’ housing.

I say ‘could be’ with good reason and with strong evidence as ITV News has broadcast a series of videos over recent months on the squalor within the social rented sector (SRS) which has seen SRS leaders remaining firmly in denial mode and the official Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) conclude that the abuse imposed on social tenants is nothing to be concerned about.

A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord.

The not fit for human habitation conditions that SLUMLORD Clarion Housing Association forced upon tenants has not even seen the regulator give Clarion, the UK’s largest housing association, a slap on the wrist and exposes that there is no effective regulation of SRS squalor and SRS slumlord operations

The chief executive of the National Housing Federation, Kate Henderson has, with outrageous shame, tenant disregard and contempt, in response said that only 5% of SRS properties have black mould and which is less than in the private rented sector seeking to downplay and excuse these unfit for human habitation SRS properties of its SLUMLORD members.

5% of the SRS properties in England is 220,000 properties typically accommodating 2.3 persons so some half a million men, women and children are subjected to abuse by social landlords and Kate Henderson of the NHF is arguing that this is acceptable on the basis this is less than the abuse perpetrated by private rented sector landlords!

I set out not to swear in this post but HALF A FUCKING MILLION men, women and children in social (sic) housing in England are being abused by their purportedly social landlord!

Note well the 5% figure is just for those and those recorded as having black mould and just one of many abuse and health and safety issues. The ITV News broadcasts have revealed ceilings collapsing, rat and mice infestations, chronic water leaks next to electrical appliances and also water leaks revealing the water and mould is contaminated with faecal matter – and these are just some of the squalor issues before we even get to the cladding scandal that sees tenants and leaseholders living in properties wrapped in combustible material.

I have no doubt that the extremely criticism averse SRS landlords will adopt a narrative of these shit hole properties being the exception and a tiny percentage of all social housing following the shameful ‘only 5%’ lead of Kate Henderson of the National Housing Federation yet each 1% of SRS property squalor is 100,000 men, women and children forced to endure such squalor.

The same SRS is busying itself with net zero carbon endeavours and not net zero squalor and while we have SRS squalor we cannot have net zero carbon

This squalor has not happened overnight but as has been ongoing fro many years as one of the ITV News broadcasts highlighted Clarion Housing Group the UK’s largest housing association landlord operating SLUMLORD properties in LB Bromley which they have known about since 2015 and will not address until 2028 – a 13-year duration of abuse and for which one tenant revealed they rent at £1300 per month for a 3 bed flat.

As a relevant aside can you imagine a private landlord getting away with a SLUMLORD property for 13 years? The PRS landlord would been hauled into court fined and even banned from being a landlord yet that never happens with the so-called ‘social’ landlord. So, in addition to a lack of regulation we also see a lack of legal redress as social landlords asses are not hauled into court and fined or even banned which is the case with private slumlord squalor. This duration of abuse further highlights the huge inequitable state of rented housing in England and an issue that has not to date been picked up by ITV News broadcasts or commentary upon them.

A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord.

Another nuance also not picked up by ITV News is the aforementioned £1300 pcm and £300 per week rent of the Clarion ‘shit hole’ properties. It means Clarion are charging the property at the perversely misnamed ‘affordable rent’ level (AR) which is also the deliberate choice of Clarion as these properties are not new-build properties since 2011 when AR began and thus Clarion has converted them from the traditional social rent (SR) level of rent which in London averages just £133 per week in official figures (2019/20) which is just £577 per calendar month … YET Clarion Housing Group has chosen to increase by 230% to the absurdly stated affordable rent of £1300 each month.

This says so much doesn’t it about Clarion Housing Group and their acutely commercial bent and focus and just as much about Kate Henderson the chief executive of the National Housing Federation defending such overtly commercial practises and especially when the 230% rent increase was by choice of a ‘social’ (sic) landlord and for a known shit hole property.

What the above facts show is the SLUMLORD practises of SRS landlords and precisely what they do not want you to know and which they seek to defend by outrageous arguments of just 5% being severe black mould and starting a very eclectic narrative that deflects away from increasing the rent on a shit hole property by 230%.

Last week saw the yearly CIH conference – a social landlord get together for a three day junket of ritual backslapping – at which the shadow housing secretary Lucy Powell, herself a private landlord gave a keynote speech which is directly relevant to the issue of SRS squalor.

An article in Inside Housing takes this up:

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Housing 2021 conference in Manchester today, Lucy Powell, who took over as shadow housing secretary from Thangam Debbonaire in May this year, said that landlords that house housing benefit claimants should not simply be given rental income “with no strings attached” in the future, noting that the Labour Party is considering action to address this.“On housing benefits we spend a huge amount every year, most of which goes to the private rented sector, and we ask nothing in return from that money,” she said. “We are going to be looking at tenants in the private rental sector. There is a lot more we can do about landlord licensing and landlord registration schemes.”

This hugely errant basis of MOST housing benefit goes to the PRS which is a myth I first exposed back in 2011 and goes back even further to 2008 when the official housing benefit by landlord data was first published. In short, SRS landlords have received billions more in housing benefit every year since 2008 than PRS landlords receive in housing benefit. In fact English housing associations alone have received more in housing benefit than PRS landlords every year since 2008 before we look at housing benefit received by council landlords! The housing benefit bill is circa £25 billion per year of which £10.5 billion goes to HAs, £9.2 billion goes to private landlords and £5.3 billion goes to council landlords.

As well as this Lucy Powell / Labour Party basis and premise being hopelessly false and a LIE does this “no strings attached” receipt of housing benefit proposal also apply to social housing SLUMLORDS? Will Labour seek to much more strongly license or even ban so-called ‘social’ landlords for operating shit hole properties or limit this just to PRS landlords!?

A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord Lucy Powell

The 5% of SRS properties with severe damp and black mould figure has been known long before Daniel Hewitt’s series of broadcasts yet nobody in the SRS or government has done anything about the minimum half a million men, women and children being allowed to live in squalor in social housing properties.

It is abusive that this de facto abuse of social housing tenants has been allowed to fester, has been swept under the carpet and go unaddressed yet it also characterises the long-standing false assumption that private landlords are the only perpetrators of squalor and that social housing has no squalor because it is owned and managed by social landlords who are beneficent and imbued with social purpose … blah, blah, blah!

A slumlord is a slumlord whether they are a private or a ‘social’ landlord.

The current Tory government have done nothing about this squalor and the Labour Party are creating policy based on the myth that squalor is only a private landlord issue and the myth that social landlords do not operate as slumlords with their ‘no strings attached’ housing benefit plan, that will be quickly aborted because it means that social landlords will have to be more closely regulated and potentially banned from receipt of housing benefit.

In summary, the social tenant is being shafted yet again as if banning a slumlord from being a landlord is policy intent, which it undoubtedly should be, then good luck in banning Clarion Housing Group the UK’s largest landlord of any type from operating as a landlord as it will never happen!

What the Daniel Hewitt broadcasts has done is expose that the social rented sector has slumlords who can carry on being slumlords with immunity and impunity as there are no systems in place to sanction the SRS slumlord and never have been. The official Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) says it has no authority to even speak with social tenants affected and abused by squalor and other SRS slumlord practises!

The propaganda of private landlord bad / social landlord good has held sway for decades and is promoted daily by the SRS landlords and lobbies and the national media which has given the social tenant no legal or other effective redress against squalor and slumlord practises of purportedly social landlords.

This is what the ITV News and Daniel Hewitt’s team broadcasts SHOULD change yet I doubt they will.

It should be the case legally that a tenant can withhold rent for abusive and dangerous housing conditions and that such tenants should get compensation payments for the abuse they suffer from slumlords. It should be the case that housing benefit and other taxpayer monies is not paid to ALL slumlords and that ALL slumlords should be banned from operating as landlords and that regulatory and legal systems are put in place to prevent landlords from inflicting abuse.

Nothing will change and we will carry on with a system that sees the tenant of a private landlord be able to get redress (after a tortuous process) yet the tenant of a social landlord cannot get any redress from squalor and abuse the landlord imposes.