A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing

Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

Time to expose this relentlessly appalling organization and others like it.

It’s now 2016 and as you can see below, Sanctuary Housing are still up to their tricks. There is no effective regulation stopping them, so they can keep getting away with it – the likes of the Homes and Communities Agency and the Housing Ombudsman have no serious interest in complaints. This is a nationwide corporate rip-off scandal (so far almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media) if ever there was one. I have heard that some of the other large housing groups can be just as bad e.g. Hyde Housing, Affinity Sutton, Metropolitan and others. Perhaps all part of the Conservative government’s long-term plans to privatise social housing? Run it all into the ground and bring in non-affordable affordable homes and more private landlords to save the day? And generally make the housing crisis worse? In the meantime people are suffering – big time.

If you have had serious problems with Sanctuary Housing or Sanctuary Group, please join the independent facebook group, from which the edited posts here are taken. It offers support and advice from others who have suffered at the hands of Sanctuary Housing – the incompetence, the frequent breaking of tenancy agreements, the threats, the lies and all the rest of it. (To Sanctuary staff who genuinely do their best, keep up the good work. I know from my own experience that it’s not an easy area to work in.) The group now has over 600 members:-

Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

poundsignukSince I first came across them in 2008, it has become obvious that thousands of people (including the elderly and vulnerable) have had their lives ruined by this frequently uncaring and incompetent organization. Unbelievably, Sanctuary is a registered charity – so they don’t pay tax. Even more unbelievably, Chief Executive David Bennett was made a CBE for services to social housing in 2015. Given the Sanctuary performance shown below, perhaps he is now due for a knighthood?

Sanctuary Group Executive.David Bennett FCA, CCMI, Group Chief Executive.For Sanctuary Group

Sanctuary Chief Executive, David Bennett. Awarded a CBE in 2015… for THIS!?

Sanctuary Group make millions. For the year 2013-2014, the landlord reported a surplus of £42.6 million. (Inside Housing 1.10.14)

In one way or another, thousands of people in their 100,000 homes are being shafted by this company. Do everything you can, an e-mail to Watchdog achieves nothing. Go through their complaints procedure until you are completely satisfied, or write to your MP and make sure they follow it through, contact local and national media with detailed documentation, go to Citizens Advice, Environmental Health, local councillors. Try to stay calm and strong, you are not alone! Demand that Sanctuary stop causing you and others so much suffering. Please do it people, don’t let them bully you.

Here is the link to the facebook group again:- Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

A typical complaint on Twitter

A typical complaint on Twitter

A SMALL SAMPLE OF COMPLAINTS FROM JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2016

“We beat them once in court, now winning again. They are only interested in their bank balance not our children’s safety”

“I was waiting 12 years (in the end I gave up and moved out) and they blamed me for breathing moisture/being in flat all day….I worked 65 hours a week so how did they figure that out! They are now charging me for repairs as it was “my fault”. If the damp issues were my fault, why do almost all Sanctuary properties have problem with damp and my new home that I’ve lived in for a year now doesn’t?…..funny that x”

“Still no hot water as a tiny piece of metal had pierced the hot water pipe when it went bang… Communication was rubbish the whole time me having to chase them all this while having a 3 yr old..wouldn’t even put us in a bnb!! Sanctuary housing do not care.”

“Yesterday I found out I may need my entire ground floor digging up and replacing because there may not be a membrane down or it could have corroded. Also had to call them back because despite new parts on my hot water tank, the hot water is off and still turning on all night because something isn’t doing its job properly. The boiler was serviced a few weeks ago too and had a new seal but now it’s making a whistling tune when it fires up. Very nice, but I worry about carbon monoxide because I’ve been poisoned before. I don’t need to worry about something that should be working properly.”

“I went 13 months before they decided to replace my boiler and then they only did it as my health visitor phoned them!”

“This is the worst housing association. I have been without water for 4 days which they don’t think it’s an emergency. I call burst pipes emergency not only that they have put charges on the rent an extra few quid a week coz they planted a few flowers somewhere. I say somewhere coz nobody as seen them and they charge for window cleaning and I’ve lived here for 3 years and not once have anyone come round to clean them how are they getting away with treating people like this it’s a f***ing joke.”

“Anyone know a contact for these useless people regarding a compensation claim? I’ve called 3 times and keep being told to call the repairs dept……”

Twitter3“Yeah we have damp in every room in this house especially up stairs we also have plaster dust in the house everywhere in every room all over in all the carpets and I mean absolutely everywhere, in and on everything even in the house wee have all been breathing it in for the last 10 YEARS and we all have infections from it and it’s been here for ten years.”

“So have become a sanctuary tenant after a mutual exchange.. Wish I hadn’t bothered!! What a waste of time totally incompetent company. It’s been a farce from start to finish! Really annoyed at the amount of repairs that need doing that they fail to acknowledge. Yet are quick to inform me that if I dare to install an electric shower, at my cost, they will have to inspect it to make sure it’s done properly and looks nice.. Yet the bathroom it’s going into is really old, with blown tiles hanging off and massive chips out of the bath.. But that’s ok?? F***ing idiots.”

“Sanctuary has served eviction notice on a mum with 2 young children. Heartless and shocking. Calls itself a charity. Calls itself Sanctuary. Oh and it’s jobsworths being pedantic…. We have contacted Sanctuary Housing, local MP and submitted homeless application with council. Looks like they will be sent to a B&B. Sanctuary have been awful.”
"Apparently Sanctuary believe this is not something that needs addressing as soon as possible, despite 2 young children and myself living in this with asthma..."

“Apparently Sanctuary believe this is not something that needs addressing as soon as possible, despite 2 young children and myself living in this with asthma…”

 

“Apparently sanctuary believe this is not something that needs addressing as soon a possible dispite 2 young children and my self living in this with asthma …. I don’t know what to say I’m upset and angered by there lack of help… I won’t give up I just hate it when they put pressure on you and try to make you look like an idiot … I’m not that clued up on everything to know what’s what. This place is tearing me apart I literally sit there and cry because no one seems to do anything and how this place is practically falling to bits around me and I can’t get out. I’m already in touch with the mp and it doesn’t sound like there is much he can do from what he said … I will ask about the windows …. to top it off we have storage heaters too so it is unbelievably expensive …. we have many other issues with this place too … it’s like a living hell

 “Good luck getting anything done with them… go straight to your mp … honestly we have been fighting for so long and nothing has been done it’s not worth the stress just place a complaint and maintenance request over the phone and keep all of the reference numbers logged down in a diary and take them to your mp or local housing office. It’s really not worth our time to go through sanctuary. They simply couldn’t care less about any of their tenants or their own contracts.
investor

14 Responses to A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing

  1. Pingback: Are Sanctuary Housing above the law? | The Tim Burness Blog

  2. Pingback: Sanctuary Housing Association complaints – taking it further | The Tim Burness Blog

  3. Tim says:

    “A scandal which should be exposed.” Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith and Shadow Justice Minister, May 2011 – for a cross-party group of MPs on the performance and unaccountability of large housing associations, at the House of Commons. Since then, nothing has been done and the situation continues to get worse. Please spread the word, thank you.

  4. suzanne stone says:

    they are disgusting …… sanctuary…… what a joke xx

  5. Tim says:

    Here is an edited version of an e-mail I received about a year ago from a recent Sanctuary employee:-

    “I found your reports on sanctuary housing group very accurate and as a recent employee, cannot see that Mr Bennett, now CBE has made any changes and has continued driving his commercial monster towards more misery for its tenants…

    I have worked for other not-for-profit housing providers and in comparison sanctuary are a disgrace, and this is the reason why I would like to see them fail HCA value for money governance and change the way they treat staff and customers. This can only be done by a change of leadership.

    I hope this may give you fresh impetus to voice your findings to people of suitable authority to expose Mr Bennett for what he is and that certainly isn’t CBE services to housing.

    Good luck”

  6. Vivien says:

    Why can’t all the tenents that are having problems get together and try to get someone that knows how to lobby the government to get something done about them. Trying to fight them individually looks like it don’t work, but if we could name and shame them at the highest level and all stick together we might get somewhere

    • Tim says:

      Yes, why can’t they, Vivien? A very good question.

      How can Sanctuary tenants and others lobby the government to get something done about Sanctuary?

      Many of us have been discussing this for several years, particularly the last couple of years in the facebook group that now has nearly 700 members.

      Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409393152675378/

      One of the many problems in getting people to complain at the highest level and then stick together is how spread out Sanctuary is across England and Scotland. And as you probably know already Vivien, people are often completely worn down by having to deal with their own Sanctuary complaints, not leaving a lot of strength or energy to deal with anything else’s. Hardly surprising as many Sanctuary tenants are vulnerable, elderly or disadvantaged in some way. And many of the complaints are complicated – Sanctuary are masters at spinning webs of half-truths and lies to cover everything up.

      It’s not just Sanctuary of course. There are similar facebook groups for other housing association tenants (and relatives and others who have suffered) such as the 900+ strong Hyde Housing independent Resident Group:-

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1495535657339414/

      For many years, they have been going through exactly the same diabolical struggles as many Sanctuary residents, with the same struggles as to how to get one’s voice heard. At the risk of offending anyone from Sanctuary, many Hyde Housing residents seem to be a bit more articulate and capable of standing up for themselves – but they are still frequently ignored, ripped off and so on. They have managed to get a bit of mainstream media exposure of Hyde Housing’s bad practices.

      Seeing as only a handful of us were doing anything more than individual Sanctuary complaints, early in 2015 I sent a carefully presented 80+ page document with extensive evidence (text, photos and newspaper articles which taken together represented 150+ Sanctuary tenants around the country) of illegal and immoral practices to a large number of “authorities”, media and MPs. This included quotes from several tenant-run Sanctuary facebook groups and detailed evidence of a fraud against the Scottish Housing Regulator by Sanctuary in Scotland (see Derek Condon’s posts on “Are Sanctuary Housing Above The Law” blog).

      I received complacent and dismissive replies from both the National Audit Office and particularly the totally arrogant, uncaring, laughable Homes and Communities Agency (the nearest thing to an official regulator, as you probably know). The HCA seemed to think that what they consider as a relatively small numbers of obviously extremely serious representative complaints were completely acceptable. Unbelievable! Beyond shocking and disgusting, they have the flipping cheek to put such nonsense in writing.

      Previous to that, in late 2013, I sent something similar out to a large number of organizations, government departments, journalists and so on. In my opinion, the most revealing reply was from Margaret Hodge, then chairwoman of the influential Public Accounts Committee, extract:- “The Homes and Communities Agency does not actively monitor social housing provider performance against, or compliance with, the consumer standards, responsibility for which rests with the Boards of social housing providers” 6.12.13.

      In other words, there is no consumer regulation of housing associations. Official. Why on earth not?

      “If we could name and shame them at the highest level and all stick together we might get somewhere.” Yes.

      Anyone out there who thinks they can seriously and practically help with this, please get in touch with either me or the independent, tenant and ex-tenant Sanctuary facebook group above.

      Thank you for your comment, Vivien.

  7. In my experience as a previous employee, if you are good and conscientious they want you out and will get rid of you any which way. Incompetence reigns from the top down..money chasing arrogance is the order of the day. Staff who stand up for tenants rights and try to implement good practice get ousted. Before an Audit they pull staff in from all over the place to try and cover up the normal bad practice. Many staff I worked although unable to carry out adequate risk assessments and support tenants appropriately did seem to be well practised addicted experts at candy crush saga and the like.

    • Tim says:

      “Incompetence reigns from the top down… money-chasing arrogance is the order of the day”, yep. Doesn’t quite line up with their relentless PR about how great they are, even though I’m sure they must do some good – one would hope so anyway.

      I’ve just been reading about CEO David Bennett’s recent “open offer to take over struggling organisations” this month. Bennett says that “Sanctuary has proven time and again that it can help struggling organisations”. Strange then, that Housing 21 recently pulled out of a merger, referring to Sanctuary not taking a contract as legally binding. Funnily enough, Bennett didn’t mention the frequent deterioration of services after Sanctuary has taken over, either.

      “Sanctuary’s accounts for 2015/16 show a surplus of £52.7m, a rise of 8.7% on last year’s figure of £48.5m, from revenue of £669m.” but Bennett and “registered charity” Sanctuary want even more.

  8. Mummy Bear says:

    I am a tenant of Housing for Women and we have suffered similar problems, if not some are the same. They have ruined my life since I moved in to our home in 2012. Have been a tenant for over 4 years and 5 months and they have ruined my son’s childhood. We have been discriminated, victimised and bullied for years and despite all our evidence, they continue to lie to cover up their corruption and our MP, Lewisham Council and the Housing Ombudsman keep falling for it every time. Actually, they don’t care.
    How is it in this day and age, these social housing providers, are protected against their illegal treatment? Every day we have lived here, we put up with ASB, we are the victims and the perpetrators continue driving us out of our home. Our home is riddled with defects and disrepairs, as Housing for Women boast about how great their service is.
    Our home stinks of the communal bins 24/7. My child is sick several times a week from these smells as this landlord fails to deal with communal maintenance.
    They lied about our building being safe and secure with CCTV when in fact all these years, the CCTV was fake.
    The most shocking aspect of all is this housing association is a specialist in domestic violence and as a victim, they have to this day, put us at risk and danger. As well as breaching health and safety, breaching our human rights, they lie about every single thing, making me look like a mad woman. They have caused us so much harm, daily misery and driven me to a nervous breakdown again and again.

    I post photos every week on social media to prove the truth, a diary and evidence. Yet it still makes no difference. Environmental health department are just as useless as is the housing ombudsman who had put me on a 12 month waiting list before they began investigations. I sent a big file with evidence. My case officer kept changing. What should have taken a month to investigate, took four days by another staff member for the HO. She didn’t even look at my evidence. I couldn’t believe it, I had official reports from Thames Water, plumbers, statements from neighbours. I requested a review and the ombudsman admitted overlooking my evidence. But didn’t say how or why. She agreed maladministration over repairs but not about teh rest of my complaint. Which is incorrect as H4W lied stating that inspections, monitoring of CCTV and cleaning had been increased. Which is a total lie but she fell for it.

    The damage caused to my health, already with health problems and vulnerable, has most definitely shortened my life expectancy.

  9. Tim says:

    From the above petition:-

    For many years the Sanctuary Housing Association has been charging its tenants for pest control without providing the service. This is a clear breach of contract.

    This appears not to be a simple oversight. The group must account for these payments annually. It would seem that a large sum of money is collected annually that simply cannot be accounted for and that should be returned to the tenants.

    In one case in East London hundreds of tenants have lived with an infestation of rats and mice for at least ten years. The issue was raised with Sanctuary Housing Association using their own internal complaints procedure. This process took a huge tenacity over three years to finally reach the highest level of complaint. This involved setting up an enquiry panel of ‘independent’ service users (other Sanctuary Housing tenants). Throughout this process many opportunities to remedy the issue were ignored by Sanctuary Housing Association. The housing association simultaneously unlawfully sought to remove the tenant making the complaints from his home. A hasty rent adjustment was made to remove pest control from the tenants rent statement although no reduction in the rent appeared. The independent board upheld all the complaints made by the tenant however they were given no power to suggest or enforce any remedy/solution including the ones offered by the tenant. To date the pest control issues remain unresolved. The tenant, a vulnerable adult, has been told that he must begin another formal complaint within the procedure if he wishes to proceed.

    Unfortunately the internal system either by design or default seeks to disenfranchise tenants. Each case is processed as an individual pest control problem. Complaints are not responded to in a timely manner and tenants often misinformed as to their rights. Some of the standard advice from Sanctuary Housing Association;
    The Housing Association is not responsible for pest control in any circumstance.
    The issue cannot be dealt with unless the whole building/street complains at the same time.
    Paperwork and/or reports have been lost or are being indefinitely processed by a team that cannot be contacted by the tenants.
    Contractors called and nobody was home , often when tenants wait at home for the whole day the contractors simply do not appear.
    Many tenants who pursue complaints using the internal system experience huge delays in the process, sudden rent re-evaluations removing pest control from the rent although never a drop in rent, somehow the rent is recalculated to be the same without this element included.

    This petition is to call for solidarity as appears that the Sanctuary Group are not prepared to accept any responsibility or provide any remedy for individual tenants.

    Many tenants continue to suffer extreme pest infestations such as rats, flees, cockroaches and mice. Despite this issue being raised to the highest level of the Sanctuary Housing complaints procedure requests for a remedy have been ignored by the group.

    The remedy I propose is twofold:
    1. Sanctuary Housing Group provides the pest control that they are responsible for in a timely manner.
    2. Historic charges are used to provide legal advice for tenants affected by this matter.
    Should a remedy not be found I propose a call for an independent inquiry into the charges being levied for a service the Sanctuary Housing Association do not provide.

    This petition will be delivered to:
    Sanctuary Housing Association
    The Sanctuary Housing Association Group Board
    Sanctuary Group Chief Executive
    David Bennett CBE, FCA, CCMI

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