The Regulator for Social Housing refuses to regulate NHG. ‘Catch 22’ again
Have you been watching the famous ‘Catch 22’ on the telly?
‘Catch 22’ is that you had to be crazy to fly combat missions in the Second World War. If you are crazy they don’t allow you fly combat missions (because you are crazy). But if you ask to be excused from combat duty because you are crazy, that means that you are sane (because it is sane to ask to be excused combat duty). So you will be refused because you are sane. And you will have to carry on flying combat duty.
The Regulator of Social Housing seems to have improved on Catch 22.
The Joint Committee of Notting Hill and Genesis Residents made a complaint to the Regulator about the recent ‘consultation’ that was conducted on the new repair service (1).
We pointed out that NHG had breached the law, ignored their duties under regulations which protected tenants and failed to live up to their own promises about transparency (see below).
First Catch 22 . ’Out of our remit’
First Catch 22 – the regulator states that: “the matter was out of our remit and so we are unable to take regulatory action in this case.”
The Regulator’s job is simple: “The regulator is legally obliged to regulate in a way that minimises interference (2).”
So in this case ‘minimising interference’ means no interference at all.
The second Catch 22. Going to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) – costs
Ah, we hear you saying. But what about going to the law? Surely the judges will support your case?
They might – but you are fast approaching the second Catch 22.
So residents who are leaseholders, shared owners and tenants can go the First-tier Tribunal. There they will face highly experienced NHG barristers paid for out of the charges levied against NHG residents and rents collected from NHG tenants.
Oh, and the judge can award costs against residents (which can amount to thousands of pounds) – in at least one case NHG asked for costs against residents who dared to challenge them in court.
So going to the Tribunal means you risk heavy costs – so you don’t do it.
The third Catch 22. The delay in action by the Ombudsman
Ah, but you might say, what about the Housing Ombudsman?
The Ombudsman’s role is: “Where a dispute has not been resolved within the landlord’s complaints procedure, it will work with the landlord and complainant to reach agreement.
But here we arrive at the third Catch 22.
It is the time taken:
“We will try to help you reach an agreement with your landlord within two months. If this is not possible your case may be referred for investigation. This is a longer, more complex process but we aim to complete 98% of cases within 12 months (3).”
The final date for the consultation was 1 July 2019.
So NHG will move forward with what it is doing anyway. NHG knows that the Ombudsman will not make a judgement for months. By which time the new NHG repair system will be up and runn – sorry, limping.
We would really like to thank the Regulator of Social Housing and Notting Hill Genesis for this beautiful demonstration of Catch 22.
Frankly, we are rather impressed.
It allows housing associations to ignore residents completely and carry on with what they are doing – no matter if it is illegal, breaches regulations and standards and ignores promises made to residents.
In other words it shows why there has to be a complete overhaul of the regulation of increasingly out-of-control housing associations.