Sanctuary Housing repairs
September 8, 2013 12 Comments
Letter to Robert Goodwill MP from Sanctuary Housing Association tenants
Hello Mr Goodwill,
I hope you are well and I am sorry to contact you again about this shambolic company. I am writing to you to keep you updated with our situation and inform you of our intentions.
Sanctuary have and are going back on their word regarding some of the improvements on our Estate. Sanctuary promised to spend £1,010,600 on the Estate for their 133 properties. After my partner and I had a meeting with Dennis Evans (National Director for Repairs) in November last year, we were led to believe that this was a starting point figure, and any improvements that needed doing on their housing stock would be done. However, numerous tenants have informed us that Sanctuary are changing the goal posts – no change there. Since the beginning of May, Sanctuary staff have been telling tenants that there isn’t any money left. Some tenants have had refurbishments done but Sanctuary tell tenants that there isn’t any money for things like lino floor coverings, thus failing in their obligations, and this being less than four months from the start of improvements.
People don’t want the earth Mr. Goodwill. They merely want their homes bringing up to a decent standard, a standard set by Government and a standard which Sanctuary are failing to meet by a country mile – not just here in Scarborough, but nationally too.
Please read the Tim Burness blog Are Sanctuary Housing Above The Law? as you are mentioned favorably a couple of times and also your picture is posted.
With regards to the recent improvements, by our understanding, 60 to 70% have had problems in one form or another. From one tenant having to have their bathroom replaced 3 times because it had been installed wrongly, to a lady having to have half her garden dug up because of something a workman had put down the toilet, subsequently blocking the main drain.
Many, many people have had leaks and floods. When we have approached Ian Calver (who is in charge of the improvement program) on numerous occasions, he has said “People will have to except that this is always going to happen”. A statement that I find staggering and one which was repeated at the residents meeting. I contacted the Chartered Institute of Plumbers and Heating Engineers to ask their opinion, they too were staggered by those comments and stated if plumbers were to have many leaks during heir work, they wouldn’t be employed for very long.
Sanctuary are hiding under the banner of having multi-skilled operatives. However, the true facts are that the people that they are employing have little or no experience at all. Once again, this is happening nationwide. The people employed to do the moderization here are joiners, with the exception of one. When asked by tenants how things are going, one joiner said “Okay I think? We are learning as we go along.” It dosn’t project great confidence really, does it?
The Chartered Institute of Plumbers and Heating Engineers also stated that the minimum qualification level should be NVQ Level 3 with a minimum of 4 years experience before plumbers should be undertaking work unsupervised, and that we as tenants have a legal right not to let any workman without the proper qualifications into our home. So the question has to be asked – why do we have to have unqualified, untrained personnel working on our homes? What checks have Sanctuary put in place to make sure their personnel are up to scratch? None at all, judging by the catalogue of errors that we have found.
This also includes day to day maintenance staff as well. People have had issues with water stop valves installed upside down, stopping the flow of water when a directional arrow clearly showed which way it should have been installed, a water tank that had been installed with a toilet ball cock which wasn’t adequate (unqualified people messing about with people’s water supply isn’t at all good!), bare wires being left exposed, my family being hospitalised because of a multi-skilled operative treating internal timbers with creosote – even my 14 year old son knew you shouldn’t put a substance like that inside a dwelling.
I could go on and on about these issues, but the fact is, this is cowboy work by a cowboy company. They are more interested in empire building than bringing their existing stock up to the decent homes standard.
Simon Clark, Group Director, states there is 92% satisfaction with their tenants. I think he pulled these figures out of a black top hat along with a white rabbit and a string of handkerchiefs.
He also seems to be rather skilled at making complaints and problems magically disappear, perhaps he would be better suited to joining the Magic Circle than sitting on the board of Sanctuary Housing.
Last year we arranged a meeting specifically for Sanctuary tenants to air their views, the meeting was held at our local school. Sanctuary wanted to coincide the meeting with the Residents Association monthly meeting but we pointed out that the issues that tenants wanted to raise were of the solo concern of Sanctuary Housing and not the wider Estate. A meeting specifically for Sanctuary tenants was held and we had a follow up meeting, which was made specifically for Sanctuary tenants in November. At that meeting Sanctuary promised a follow up meeting for March – it didn’t happen. When I asked Sanctuary about it they failed to return my calls regarding the matter. I persisted to no avail, I was later tipped off that representatives of Sanctuary were to attend the Residents Association meeting in May to inform residents of progress.
Three Sanctuary tenants were present, and two of those were my partner and myself. No letters were posted to inform people of their intentions to be at the meeting. Sanctuary have fudged out yet again, stopping their tenants airing their views about failure to keep their promise of improvements and their failure to do work to a satisfactory level.
Our intention now is to go and ask the 133 Sanctuary tenants on our Estate a questionairre about service and confidence in the company. We will also be taking a petition round to ask for action to be taken against this cowboy company who have nothing but contempt for their tenants.
We will keep you posted.