MPs frustrated by 'dreadful' housing associations
Some housing associations are out of touch, poor at customer service or just plain dreadful, according to MPs.
New research shows MPs want associations to have a local focus and to be better at communicating.
The survey, commissioned by the Place Shapers Group, suggests MPs have very mixed views about the social landlords working in their constituencies.
Many had good things to say about the associations signed up to the Place Shapers agenda, which stresses a community and resident focus.
But others were unhappy with larger national associations, which they felt did not respond well to residents’ needs.
‘I don’t think it much matters if you are big or medium. You can be big and have a regional or local focus.’
Anthony Mayer, chair, Tenant Services Authority
‘Some housing associations treat their local MP with the same contempt as they treat their residents and many do not even bother to reply to letters,’ one MP said. Another complained: ‘Housing associations are dreadful. I have had loads of complaints about anti-social behaviour and it was all down to housing associations.’ Others were positive about locally-focused associations but critical of ‘absentee landlords’.
The research was prompted by coverage in Inside Housing of the negative views of associations expressed during the passage of the Housing and Regeneration Bill.
The majority of MPs who took part called on associations to ensure they provided a quick and full response to their queries. Many wanted more regular contact from associations – but not in the form of glossy promotional brochures.
Speaking at the launch of the report at the House of Commons this week, Barbara Thorndick, chief executive of West Kent Housing Association and chair of the Place Shapers Group, said: ‘This is important stuff. Our reputation is built not only on the services we provide but on the quality of the contact we have with key decision-makers. MPs are key to the success of housing associations.’
Anthony Mayer, chair of the Tenant Services Authority, said it was crucial for associations to focus on their communities. ‘I don’t think it much matters if you are big or medium,’ he said. ‘You can be big and have a regional or local focus.’
Hammersmith and Fulham MP Greg Hands said he dealt with 40 different housing associations, allowing him to compare varying levels of service.
‘I like to see housing associations that are properly sized, that are putting residents first and that look after existing residents, not just having grandiose plans about empire building.’