Duty of care question
08/10/2010 5:40 pm
I have a slight problem that I can't get an answer to. I searched the net and came across this site. Someone here may be able to help or point me in the right direction.
I rent a LA first floor flat. It is old and not well maintained. My electricity fuse box/meter and isolator switch are situated on the ground floor and are accessible to anyone who gains admittance to the flats. On many occasions it has been turned off, usually when we are out. I put up security cameras as a last resort. After complaints I requested permission from my housing officer who reluctantly agreed. However under pressure from a particular family I have had to remove the camera with the proviso that the entrance doors are to be kept closed at all times. The doors are now being left open which leaves my electricity supply vulnerable once more. What rights, if any, do I have and what responsibility, if any, has the council to protect my supply?
I am at my wits end and would be grateful for any help or advice
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08/10/2010 6:48 pm
Sandy our you a Leaseholder if so see if you have a Leaseholder/Shared Ownership/Owner paying Service Charges Group via your Housing Association. go on the website and see if you can find Minutes of the Meeting and click on and see if any member's you know live near you or otherwise contact the Housing Association and speak to the Resident Involvement/Empowerment Manager and ask when next meeting so that you may go and speak to the Chair or write a letter to the Chair c/o of the Housing Association
08/10/2010 7:33 pm
Hi Junior and thank you for replying. I rent from a local authority (council). I am an 'incomer' and the problems I am experiencing are from a 'local' family.
09/10/2010 8:29 am
Sandy you more than likely got a Tenant and Resident Association in your area ask you Housing Officer. Speak to Shelter a freephone number which may take a long time to answer but is a freephone number is a Housing Charity Organsation helping people with housing issues
09/10/2010 11:41 am
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09/10/2010 12:23 pm
Sandy, without seeing your tenancy agreement I can't be 100%, but there is almost certainly a right to 'quiet enjoyment' there. There should also be an obligation on the Council not to 'permit' you to 'suffer' any loss of quiet enjoyment. That's a little vague, but failing to act on ASB perpetrated by another tenant probably falls under the remit. If you go on the Council's website, you should find and Antisocial Behaviour Policy that sets out what they should be doing in this case. You can then at least understand the process that they should be following and ask your housing officer to follow that route.
You are fortunate as a Council tenant to have another, more crude, route available to you. Go on the Council's website and find out who your Councillors are. They should hold weekly surgeries in your local area. Go along to one and tell the Councillor about your problem. Follow that up with a polite letter to them, copied to the Cabinet Member for Housing, thanking them for their time and reminding them of the problem you're having. They want your vote, so will then take it on for you. They will raise a 'Member's Enquiry' with the Housing Department, who will then go into a panic trying to sort it out for you. If you don't get the result you're looking for, just keep going to the surgeries and sending the letters, always apologising for having to go back to bother them, but explaining that you don't know what else to do.
13/10/2010 10:07 am
Thank you for your replies. My housing officer is the one that allowed me to install the CCTV and then, after pressure from the many family members of my neighbour, instructed me to remove it. It is only a small estate and about a third of the properties house their family or friends.
I am the only person who has ever stood up to them. I am always quiet and polite and refuse to shout back or use swear words. I think that this infuriates them more but I refuse to become involved in a slanging match. I am called 'stuck up' and a 'snob' because I keep the communal areas clean and when I suggested painting the dingy hallway, at my own expense, they made an objection to the council.
Thanks for reading and for your suggestions. If the situation continues to deteriorate I shall contact my local councillors, my MP is, quite frankly, Useless!
13/10/2010 10:34 am
I agree, social landlords do not listen to MPs. also be careful that councillors, when all it's said and done, are after votes. And if you are against many they might be reluctant to do anything for fear of losing their votes. But I do hope your councillor is an excelption and will fight for your rights.
If they cannot do anything to help you, You should make it clear to your lanlord that the antisocial family have de fact turned the area in their private kingdom they should not have housed you in such a situtation. I would advice you ask for a transfer and for you to be given and transfer expense/distress allocation.
You are using the right behaviour, just do not give up until you get what you are entitled for however long it takes. Remember while the thugs are the one carrying the attacks the real responsble for you situtation are your landlord and the police and the local authority for not protecting you, so you should complain against them all for not protecting you, because I can tell you your situtation if you stay there might go on for as long as you live.
Also go to your doctor and make sure they take account of how it is afecting your health.
13/10/2010 11:40 am
Sancho what is your Cabinet Member sit on your Housing Association Board what do you do then please
13/10/2010 2:11 pm
Thank you, Kass
13/10/2010 2:52 pm
Kass - please don't tar every housing organisation with the same brush. They are not all the same yet you persist in making bold statements while you know nothing about the organisation in question.
Sandy - Sancho's advice is spot on. Some local Cllrs are extremely good and all would write to the LA on your behalf. The plus point there is that you are a LA tenant rather than a HA tenant. LA's take a good deal of notice of Cllrs as they are the strategic leaders of the organisation and therefore wield a fair amount of power especially cabinet members. Cllrs don't have the same power over HAs. LAs tend to jump the minute they receive an enquiry from a Cllr, especially a good one.
The obvious solution is to move your meter inside your property. Your Housing Officer should have asked you to keep a log of each time your supply is turned off. I suggest you take the approach that if your supply was turned off in the middle of cooking for example your health and safety would be in jeopardy as you would not be able to see and could burn yourself quite easily. Raise this with your Cllr with the proposed solution of moving your meter and you may well get a result.
Do you know anyone else in the block? If so ask if they are having the same problem. I suspect that you are not alone in suffering this. Kass is right in one thing, you could submit a freedom of information request asking for issues such as this that have been reported previously. Stress in the request that you just want info on whether there have been cases as you would not be able to get full details under data protection.
13/10/2010 3:03 pm
Kass - please don't tar every housing organisation with the same brush. They are not all the same yet you persist in making bold statements while you know nothing about the organisation in question."
How much do you know more than me of the organisation in question? What makes you believe it might not be even worse than all others?
Would a good organisation drive their residents asking for desperate help on a website?
13/10/2010 3:12 pm
you could submit a freedom of information request asking for issues such as this i.e. is the Family Behaviour being reported by any other Resident's that have been reported in this year. Can you ask your Housing Association for this information when we tried we get its confidential. In my friend case does want to knock on people doors so ask the Housing Association and was told confidential unable to get that information but didn't quote and will not response by saying this or that
14/10/2010 0:44 am
Kass - I don't know anything about this LA which is why I haven't commented on them such as you have with words like "Also it might also be the case that your neighbours might have close friends or even family members connected or working with your LA and they will all conspire to make your life hell." That's crossing the line as it's a serious allegation, even you must see that.
Clearly Sandy has had some success albeit brief with her Housing Officer so it's not a case of the LA doing nothing at all. Unfortunately ASB is notoriously difficult to deal with effectively, I know you don't like it but evidence is needed in order to take action. Otherwise we'd have people like you making accusations about people (see above accusations you have made) without any foundation and actually being responsible for ASB themselves by doing so. I have seen cases such as this where people have been falsely accused by someone who gets a bee in their bonnet for some unknown reason and makes their life hell complaining about them. Sadly these cases are often only identified when said accuser does the same to other people as well.
Junior ( I don't know why you changed from Eva, the almost illegibility of some of your posts, caused by dyslexia I believe, make it obvious who you are) the data protection act outweighs the freedom of information act and organisations have to be very careful about what they are releasing. That is why I suggested Sandy just asks about any similar ASB in the area which is a general question and not about individuals which would be covered under data protection. I know you consider it a nuisance but it protects you too.
14/10/2010 12:32 pm
Do not waste your time with Kass Eva/Junior as they believe all landlords have it in for their tenants, not just the bad ones, because I believe there are some really bad ones. And agree with you about the crossing of the line in some of the accusations which are made on here.
14/10/2010 5:43 pm
Paula, you make the valid point and solution about moving the meter in to Sandy’s property. I assume ‘ownership’ and responsibility for this belongs to utility supplier. Whilst I recognise that all HAs shouldn’t be “tarred with same brush”, Sandy’s situation does hi-light the lame role that HAs sometimes take:
Firstly, the HO (retrospectively?) agreed to Sandy’s CCTV – this was bound to cause ‘aggro’. The HO condoned Sandy’s management of the problem, placed onus on Sandy instead of taking a pro-active role. Surely, the HA would have been better taking preventative measures? – multiple occupied properties with communal meter access:
how about securing the meters individually at HA expense?;
how about the HA having inter-agency contact with the utility supplier and organising the movement of meter in to Sandy’s flat? Sandy seems to be a new tenant – this type of process should be standard and could have been organised before re-letting the property and should have probably been done years ago.
A HA that knows that a tenant could be put a risk by sudden electric cut off i.e. walking across the hall at night (could suddenly lose footing), holding hot pan in kitchen (can’t see cooker / unit) is not acting responsibly by allowing this situation to continue. I have no doubt that the real responsibility is that of the perpetrators but HAs too must accept that multi-occupied buildings need as much preventative facilities upgrade as reasonable. Indeed, although it wouldn’t be the HAs responsibility, are these meters ripe for neighbours running their electric use from? Again HA should consider this when letting multi-occupied properties.
14/10/2010 11:10 pm
Do you work in social housing perhaps?... Where do I say you do not need evidence for asbo?... My line is the weight of evidence should not be put on victims shoulders to the point of endangering their lives. That's the reason victims do no report crimes in the first place.
It happened with racism, then it happened with domescti violence, then it happened for gay people, (and for some of these categories still goes on) that victims only came forward and reported abuse only when steps where taken to protect them.
Now it is social tenants who are victimized and not protected.
As for anonymous entitities here here talking about crossing lines. I am a customer. If I hear other customers like me with any social landlords are living a life of hell I am inclined to assume it is because social landlords are not doing their duties as they should.
15/10/2010 9:58 am
To: Anonymous 6.39 p.m.
I had read the post, thank you and identified IMO the salient points - my comments would apply albeit LA or HA – afterall, they are doing the same role, aren’t they?
Although an LA in this case, the current outcome would very likely be same if HA was landlord.
I was fair enough to acknowledge comment that all “shouldn’t be tarred with same brush”.
15/10/2010 10:55 am
maybe are you tarring with the same brush the fact that LA and HA are ALL doing the same role?
Surely some of them will not do exactyly the same role 100%...
Or maybe you do not like to admit that fooball hooligans give a bad name to ALL football, whether your own club is an admirable model of conduct or not.
Or you do like to admit false expense claims will give a bad name to ALL politicians, whether they are honest or not?
It's really pathetic how social housing staff instead of demanding their sector is improved, go about complaining they are being tarred with the same brush... Until they themselves are found out that is.
15/10/2010 12:30 pm
When the problems first arose I did ask both the electricity company and the local council if the meter and fuse box could be moved into the flat. The electricity company said that it was the council's responsibility and the council say that they can't move it or box it in as the wires are all jumbled up so it would be extremely difficult to rewire/reroute and that funds were not available to do so anyway.
It is completely unsatisfactory but it seems that there is little that I can do at the moment. If a fuse blows I have to take step ladders down two flights of stairs to be able to reach the fuse box. The problem is that even my heating, although gas, needs electricity to run the boiler.
Ah well....I have a roof over my head and hopefully the sun will shine over the weekend.