A funny story about rubbish bins being taken hostage
We published a tongue-in-cheek post about bins being held hostage by a cleaning company which had a contract with NHG.
It turned out that NGH had just not paid the bill.
So the cleaning company, Veolia, took back their bins leaving residents without a way of disposing of rubbish. And of course, residents were expected to continue paying service charges despite the lack of service.
But the inconvenience was relatively small and residents were able to make jokes about bins ‘being taken hostage.’
But there is a serious problem
Of course people, companies, organisations make mistakes, mainly because they are made up of human beings and of course they are fallible. We are not in the business of criticising anyone for making a mistake (NHGResidents has been known to make the odd mistake!).
And compared to the horror stories that everyone in NHG knows about – 10 years sorting out a repair, massive overcharging for non-existent maintenance, etc – this story is insignificant.
Our irritation arises from the fact that there seems to be a divide between social housing tenants, people on low incomes and these huge social landlords like NHG.
People in social housing are vilified, as feckless, no-hopers, and people on low incomes who are not bright enough to earn more pay. Probably lazy too. Claiming a ‘benefit’ of any kind, places you in the sub-human category in the world we live in now.
And to be frank, NHG’s shared owners and leaseholders are only treated with marginally more respect than vilified social housing tenants.
Property developers/speculators like NHG are never called to account
But property developers/speculators like NHG, are rarely if ever called to account. And even when they are found to be in the wrong, there is no apology, just pathetic excuses. There is no recompense, just another increase in services charges. Housing associations (who are really property developers and speculators) are protected by well paid legal beagles who know every little wrinkle there is and then some.
We have suggested a solution to NHG. That is that reasonable compensation is paid immediately that mistakes are made.
We suggested in negotiations earlier this year that a couple of months service charges or rent ‘holiday’ for those affected might be suitable. This suggestions was about poor – or non-existant – repairs, but it could apply to anything.
The NHG response was very illuminating.
They detailed the penalties that contractors would suffer (including non payment) if the work was not done to standard. However they flatly refused to consider any penalties for themselves should they fail to provide a satisfactory service to residents(1).
And here is where the problem is.
There is a total lack of effective penalties for NHG when they make serious mistakes.
NHGResidents will not give up on this. Join us to make sure that NHG do actually change
- (1)From an exchange of correspondent between NHGResidents and NHG regarding repairs on 5 July 2019:
NHGResidents Question: You were noticeably unenthusiastic about our suggestion that residents receive real and appropriate compensation if jobs go wrong. We suggested a service charge or rent ‘holiday’ for one or two months.
NHG response: Unfortunately it is not within the scope of this present consultation to make decisions on NHG policy for rent or service charge income.
NHGResidents Question: But it is worth noting that NHG will be protected by penalty clauses in the contract. Contractors will be protected because they can always leave the DPS whenever they want (because they are not locked into a contract). The platform provider is protected as we presume that none would be foolish enough to sign a contract in which their fee depends on job completion. Residents, however, have absolutely no protection against failures in the repair system.
NHG response: The agreed contract for the DPS will contain provisions to ensure that payment is withheld from contractors for non-completion of work to a satisfactory standard. The DPS provider’s fee will be dependent on completion of satisfactory work as it is intended that they would recover their fee from the final cost of works and no payment would be made until works had been satisfactorily completed.