Gove tells housing association of ‘deep disappointment’ at complaints failings

The Housing Secretary said Clarion Housing Association had not been able to meet fundamental standards for its tenants.

Jemma Crew
Monday 23 May 2022 16:34
Secretary of State for Housing Michael Gove said the situation was ‘extremely concerning’ (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Secretary of State for Housing Michael Gove said the situation was ‘extremely concerning’ (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Housing Secretary has told England’s largest social housing landlord he is “deeply disappointed” after investigations found failings in its handling of complaints over leaks, damp, mould and pest control problems.

Michael Gove said Clarion Housing Association should be setting an example but instead had not been able to meet fundamental standards for its tenants.

It follows two recent reports from the Housing Ombudsman which made findings of “severe maladministration” over the housing association’s handling of complaints.

Earlier in May, the ombudsman identified “significant failings” over how it responded to a complaint from a vulnerable tenant who went for months without water and had problems with damp, mould and rodents.

And last month, the ombudsman criticised the group for its “repeated failure” to respond to another resident’s complaints after she reported a leaking roof, damp, mould and cracks to the interior of her property.

Mr Gove said it was “extremely concerning” to see two serious cases in such quick succession.

The latest case involved a female tenant, referred to as Ms K, who experienced delays over 15 months in the landlord dealing with repairs following reports of leaks, damp, mould and a rodent infestation.

The investigation was told she was without hot or cold water for days and months at a time, although it found no evidence she made contemporaneous reports to the landlord about these periods.

I am deeply disappointed that as one of the largest social housing landlords, who should be setting an example, you have not been able to meet fundamental standards for your tenants

Housing Secretary Michael Gove

In early 2021, she reported that she was sleeping on her sofa due to mice and droppings in almost every room, it said.

The landlord took steps to acknowledge and offer compensation for its failings.

But the ombudsman said there was severe maladministration in the landlord’s complaints handling, communication, and consideration of Ms K’s vulnerabilities.

The ombudsman is carrying out a further investigation as it is dealing with other cases about similar issues “which may be indicative of repeated failure”.

In a letter to the group shared by Mr Gove on Twitter on Monday, he wrote: “No-one should have to live in a home with these conditions – and it should not take years to put them right.

“I am deeply disappointed that as one of the largest social housing landlords, who should be setting an example, you have not been able to meet fundamental standards for your tenants.”

We have not got every decision right as an organisation, but we are making good progress and recently published a detailed update on the actions we have taken to significantly improve our service

Clare Miller, Clarion Housing Group

He added: “I intend to take a personal and direct interest in your association’s approach to housing conditions, engagement with residents and vulnerable complainants in particular.”

In response, Clare Miller, chief executive of Clarion Housing Group, said she will “never shirk our responsibility to provide and maintain good quality homes”.

She said: “We have not got every decision right as an organisation, but we are making good progress and recently published a detailed update on the actions we have taken to significantly improve our service.

“There is no quick fix to the housing crisis and the UK has some of the oldest housing stock in the world.

“As a charitable organisation, we will continue to do all we can to meet this challenge and we hope the Government will work with us on our common goals.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in