Whats going on?
11/12/2009 11:52 am
Yesterday, IH posted a news article on a very important legal case Garbet v Circle 33. This was the first case to be decided on the removal of sheltered housing wardens and was decided on Monday 7 December.
I commented on this and then the article disappeared. Interestingly legal websites are amazed that the transcript is not available yet in the public domain - It cant be found anywhere.
Before this is labelled as some form of 'conspiracy theory' there was a discussion of this case on Radio 4 programme You and Yours on Thursday this week and so undoubtedly this csae is in the public domain.
So for whatever reason this article has been withdrawn on this site (and i presume it is legal and not because of potential advertising revenue loss to IH) I will restrict my comments to what the radio interview said.
The landlord was found not to have consulted with tenants and acted unlawfully. The court decision on the remedy was not however to make the landlord reinstate the warden.
This is a seminal case in housing law of interest to many on this site yet IH for some reason have chosen not to report on it. Why is that?
If the editor of this site had emailed me to give reasons why it was removed I would not need to post this comment - yet in that absence it is clearly in everyones interest and especially IHs interest to comment on why they have chosen NOT to report such an important news item here
Sort: Newest first | Oldest first
11/12/2009 12:18 pm
11/12/2009 12:47 pm
Yes, it appeared about 2 minutes after I posted this original point. It clearly explained the reasons why it was removed and those reasons are clear and right.
Yet the transcript non-appearance is still bemusing and baffling as the court confirm the decision was made and transcribed yet for some reason(????) this is not available. I can understand either side not wanting it to be made available for legal or other reasons but this is a public domain issue surely as many of the legal profession that commentate elsewhere are baffled by this too?
Inside Housing staff post
11/12/2009 1:27 pm
We've got the judgement as a Word document so I've attached this to the bottom of the story. The link is http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/Journals/1/Files/2009/12/11/garbet%20and%20circle%2033.doc
11/12/2009 3:05 pm
Tom, thanks for this. Though whether 'enjoy' is the correct term ....
31/12/2009 12:37 pm
Thanks Tom, for the link, very informative, and thanks Joe for another worthy discussion starter.
31/12/2009 1:49 pm
It is laughable that housing professionals are surprised at the fact that social landlords are getting away with murder, like in this case. This is what social landlords have been doing for decades and the fact is that there is no way social tenants can fight for their rights in the courts and come out winners, even if they win their case. Anytime these social landlords say through their staff or pubblicity that they have any respect for their residents are just blurting out sickening lies.
31/12/2009 3:29 pm
Kass, if landlords are 'getting away with murder' then the surprise is at the courts and what they are not doing in terms of remedy.
You take a case to court, its proved you are wronged yet the courts dont offer remedy. Hence its the courts who are getting away with murder or allowing it to happen and go on unabated if they - that is the courts - continue to do bugger all about it.
Most landlord support providers have the excuse or explanation - genuine reason in fact in most cases - for reducing support services because they are not funded by local councils to provide them, and this is the only current way of them being available.
In the vast and overwhelming majority of cases the fault lies not with landlords (as providers of support) but in the SP system (and its inep administration by local council SP teams) that systematically fails to provide the funding to deliver support services.
Yet in this case it was proved the tenants had a legal and contractural right to a resident warden and STILL the courts dont make them reinstate - the bigger villains of the piece here are the courts.
31/12/2009 4:47 pm
Thu, 31 Dec 2009 15:29 GMT
I do not think your logic stands up to scrutiny.
While the courts might fail to deliver justice to tenants, the injustice has been inflicted by the landlords in the first place.
After all a murderer not punished for her murder is still a murderer.
It does not make these landlords any less trusthworty or guilty if for whatever reason, a barmy judge or a powerful lawyer firm, gets these landlords off the hook. On the contrary this only magnify how perverse these landlords are, by piling injustice over offence on their residents by arguing these clear cut cases in the courts.
Tenants and the general public are no fools and know that this is what is going on. That is why lack of trust and faith in social landlords or legal system is epidemic.
31/12/2009 6:01 pm
Kass, you fail to see all of my comment - often local councils have taken away or dramatically reduced funding to pay for support services. These are support services usually over and above any services general needs tenants get.
The options then become stark - the service is taken awy or tenants pay or pay more for it - landlords can no longer cross subsidise such services as they once did.
You are looking at a symptom and not the cause - and it is this cause (SP) that needs addressing as it provides landlords with no choice
31/12/2009 6:24 pm
"Joe Halewood Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:01 GMT
...You are looking at a symptom and not the cause - and it is this cause (SP) that needs addressing as it provides landlords with no choice."
Does the contract between landlord and tenant provide anything in it which includes this statement of yours?
Did this tenant refuse any increased payment if required?
Landlords have choices, but instead of addressing the issue as you point out (they could raise more money, they could link up with charities and other bodies, they could lobby - well, they should have been lobbying decades ago for more public funds for this service, i.e, there is a million things they could do if they have imagination and initiative and enterprise) but instead they choose to rush in cuts of services and to have court cases v residents (paid for by residents whether they win or lose the case - which is sick in itself).
Does not it cross your mind that had it been the other way round, in which the tenant had taken away or refused to pay any part of her rent, she would be evicted without question? But landlords can get away with murder... It is only because of few heroic campaigners, like Ms Hossack, that residents warden have not been wiped out completely. But unfortunately there is only one Ms Hossack in the land.
02/01/2010 1:36 pm
Kass - as usual you are on your crusade that all landlords are getting away with murder. Yet you are way off beam here as this is all about support services, which are additional services delivered by support providers some of whom are landlords. Hence they are not in any tenancy contract (with the exception of resident wardens in some cases)
SP is now over 10 years old and promised to place support on a secure legal and financial framework. Yet it didnt do that at all and tenants do not have any legal rights to support services.
Providers (including landlords) developed new services in light of this promise and delivered them. However, when this promise proved to be illusory local councils sought to stop funding support services and left support providers (including landlords) in the position of having to withdraw these services or charge more and charge tenants directly. Often they cant charge tenants directly because of other promises made to tenants (in transfer agreements for example).
If landlords did continue with services after funding was withdrawn, then they would have to subsidise them which means all other tenants would be paying for this through their rents - as was the case before SP was introduced with a cross subsidy.
This is why SP is the chief cause of the problems and not landlords.
You have confused support services with being part of the rent, they are not they are additional to rent in the vast majority of cases and they are not in the vast majority of tenancy agreements. Hence, your analogy of id tenants refused to pay more is not and cannot be an issue as it is not in the tenure document.
Central government have reduced SP paymets to local councils who in turn have withdrawn funding from support providers many of whom are landlords. That is what has happened here despite central government stating that SP saves the public purse to the tune of billions of pounds each year.
Unfortunately, legal challenges are not on SO itself but only on points of law such as lack of consultation, little or no regard to DDA and other related duties on landlords / providers/ councils. That unfortunately is the only way legal challenges can be brought against providers and dont provide legal reasons to challenge central government and local government on the inept and frankly stupid decisions taken to withdraw SP funding leaving providers between a rock and a hard place.
The blame here is and should be on the withdrawal of funding through SP - a programme that promised a secure legal and financial basis to deliver support services to vulnerable people that has failed miserably - and those who chose to make it fail are not even in the dock, just the providers who are forced into withdrawing services and who (in the main) are wrongly taking the flak for this
02/01/2010 4:09 pm
Joe Halewood Sat, 2 Jan 2010 13:36 GMT
It is very clear to me that it is mostly landlords messing up tenants about wardens issues, it is also clear to me that it is tenants to suffer from warders being withdrawn and is also clear to me that by far the greatest majority of tenants concerned want to keep their wardens.
But you are jumping on all sides of the fence - and it looks like your fence is made up of fo many hooks and crannies that you jet out from one and zip off into the others like a a laser beam. And now, having first shwon shock horror, at the lack of proper remedy, you are really saying that Garbet should not have defended her case because of administrative or funding with Circle33 and SP issues.
What a load of rubbish you are talking,
When and where tenants have ever said we do not want to pay for wardens?
Tenants have always paid for wardens. Social rents are assessed for fair rents, and landlords whether they provide all the services in the land or none at all, every time there is a rent increase try to impose the highest rent they can get away with and they do this shamelessly, whether there are wardens or not around.
The fact is tenants want wardens, they want wardens because of specific well documented needs they have and from wardens intrinsic function.
Landlords not providing wardens where they are due are failing their residents. garbet v Circle33 has proved that, which was all an unnecessary expense of residents money because it was an issue it did not need any proving as even the most idiot of landlords knows very well this is what tenants want.
02/01/2010 6:45 pm
Kass - a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
As for the specific Garbet case you can see elsewhere that the landlord is at fault and very clearly in my view. The landlord and provider were actually getting more than enough funding to pay for the resident warden, so where you get that I am saying in the Garbet case the landlord isnt at fault i dont know.
Tenants have always paid for wardens. Yes thats true - but not those tenants that receive the service. Prior to SP sheltered wardens were paid for by all tenants including all gerneral needs tenants - that is why SP made such loandlords go through an 'unpooling exercise' to make the real cost of resident wardens (a) transparent and (b) that shelotered tenants bore that cost alone without cross subsidies. And its got bugger all to do with the fair rents service either.
I agree tenants want resident wardens but they also have to be prepared to pay the actual cost of such a service. Therein lies the problem.
A resident warden costs about £700-800 per week and the cost of that needs to be met by tenants (and or SP on their behalf.) The national average payment is just less than £12 so it needs a sheltered scheme of about 60 residents to break even. If you only have 30 residents they need to pay about £25 each per week or about double the average . Yet the same tenants have been paying £12 per week and are (naturally) reluctant to increase the amunt they pay - in the above example it doubles.
Also some landlords have agreements such as transfer commitments that dont allow them to increase the charges. These are just some of the problems and why SP systemically works against resident wardens in sheltered housing.
Yet underneath the problem and real cause is the failure of SP
02/01/2010 7:02 pm
Joe Halewood Sat, 2 Jan 2010 18:45 GMT
One can go about this for ever, but basically the substance of it all is this. Are wardens a luxury or a response to real tenants needs?
Well, for me is the second. Wardens are a help towards real and deeply felt tenants needs. Have social landlords a duty to provide to needs of such type and nature? Yes, they have, that's the specific kind of needs which fit exactly what a social landlords should satisfy.
No amount of administrative failures, fake politicking, mismanaged funding issues, etc etc, will take this need away from tenants. Until these needs are met tenants have all the right to be angry, upset and cast shame on their landlords. Like in other instances, only more and more legal actions and more and more protest is needed until the situation is redressed in full.
02/01/2010 7:13 pm
And as far as the economic reason for abolishing the wardens service goes, I alwasy thought that wardens were in fact SAVING money to landlords and the community in general by anticipating and preventing lots of accidents and incidents, which without them will happen and will cost even more than having wardens...
03/01/2010 12:19 pm
Kass. I agree wholeheartedly that residnt wardens are not a luxury and that they provide a very cost-effective service that is both needed and wanted.
The unfortunate thing is that landlords have a moral 'duty' to respond to tenant wishes, they dont have any legal duty to provide such a service. The original aims of SP was to create a secure legal and financial framework and create a right to at least be assessed for support need - whether in sheltered or supported housing. Yet it failed to do that.
That is the rub of the problem - the financial underpinning of services when there is no legal right to support however strong and right and even cost-effective that would be. The fact that the system (of SP) cant be challenged legally is very regrettable and the fact the judiciary explicitly avoids looking at that (see the Barnet case transcript) is offensive and frankly wrong.
04/01/2010 9:59 am
This whole topic really is a minefield, for every person that wants "everything" which, usually is the person on full HB that isn't required to make a payment from their own pocket, this then has to be balanced up against the call from the general taxpayer about waste, and the ongoing pressure on SP. I have real concerns about SP anyway, particularly with the chances of the Tories coming in. The personilisation agenda will be rolled out further, making it almost impossible for wardens in theor current format to continue.
I'm not claiming to know the answer but I can't see how resident wardens wil be sustainable if the personailisation agenda means people can opt for a pendant/telephone based system themselves, thus saving them cash but increasing the costs to the ther residents and/or the RSL. I'd imagine any tenancies tying people to certain support requirements will be challenged in the same way residents have challenged RSL's trying to take away such support. Funny how people will look at tenancies in different ways depending how it suits them!!
04/01/2010 10:28 am
Harry - a few points. Personalisation is a misnomer and cant work as no support provider will be willing to offer a service if it can be withdrawn or not purchased by a tenant on a whim. It can only lead to less choice for the individual as providers will flee the market in their droves.
Support in with the tenancy - this is normal in supported housing (think of homeless hostels / DV refuges, mental health services etc) and needed. They have only been developed because of the need and the fact that they are only financially viable because support is tied to the tenure.
Sheltered housing is not supported housing and an anomaly in that the need for entry is just age and not support need. So I agree that sheltered tenants will look at it differently as some need support, some dont and of course some have to pay when others dont.
I disagree there will be legal challenges however, as those most likely to challenge in sheltered housing - the ones who pay but dont necessarily need support - are free to (legally) move elsewhere and so they can exercise this choice.
SP is also an anomaly in that it is supposed to be tenure neutral, yet to qualify for it one had to be a tenant and in vast majority of cases a social tenant due to the hoops one had to go through if one was a private tenant. Owner occupiers couldnt qualify at all.
So when arguments are used by councils (ie Barnet) that SP doesnt go to all older people they know full well why - the system they administer prevented it!
Calls from taxpayer about ongoing waste? - Despite the anomaly that sheltered housing is, the resident warden model is still sustainable and cost-effective as the official government figures show without any ambiguity. Its also not 'waste' that SP does not cover all vulnerable persons - eg older ones as Barnet claimed as that is also a systemic SP problem that was and never has been addressed.
Concerns over SP - They are very real ones I agree but not limited to whichever political party is in office - SP is dead in the water due to the removal of the ringfence - why not just remove the constraints on its spending eg to all older people and keep the ringfence as this would take away all inflexibilities. Yet instead councils can now spend SP grant income on holes in the road or more likely cash-strapped social service budgets for which they have a legal duty to pay for - unlike SP that holds no funding rights at all for vulnerable people.
04/01/2010 10:34 am
Harry Lime Mon, 4 Jan 2010 09:59 GMT....
....Funny how people will look at tenancies in different ways depending how it suits them!!"
It might be very funny to you but if tenants and residents feel wardens are not a luxury they have all the right to claim wardens should stay.
You are forgetting that while this issue might be a minefield for some as you, there is certainly no doubt on what it has caused and is causing to concerned residents, that is real anguish, untold painful upset and anger.
04/01/2010 10:57 am
(sigh.....) New Year, same old Kass. Kass, the point I made was a valid one, I managed over 16 schemes as an area manager once - what's your experience in the field? Anyway, as the demand for social housing grows ever stronger many people see the "over 55" schemes as a route in despite the fact that many of them are still working and have no "real" support needs.
It's ridiculous to assume that on a scheme of 30,40,50+ properties all tenants are going to require the same level of services and It's these people who will challenge tenancies and the like if it would reduce their outgoings, particularly as personalisation is going to make it harder for landlords to hold people to these services.
There's also the fact that in a rapidly ageing society 55 is nowhere like the age and infirmity it used to suggest in years gone by. However, personalisation and the like will sound the death knell for many schemes as some will choose a pendant/telephone system that is much cheaper than a resident warden which will increase the cost to remaining residents or the RSL
Surely you'd be all for tenant choice Kass?