One of the UK’s leading social landlords – Sanctuary Housing

Sanctuary Housing refuse meeting with representatives of 2500+ tenants

Final reply from Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Facebook Group to Kate Reynolds, Sanctuary Board members and Sanctuary Group executives (italics added afterwards)

Tues 25th Feb at 10.02

Dear Kate and Sanctuary,

Thank you for your reply.

As the existence of our now 2500+ group demonstrates (in fact the number is nearer 4000 if two other similar Sanctuary Facebook complaint groups are included), your strategy of supporting tenants and residents only when they contact you directly is clearly not working.

Tenants and others join our group as a last resort, when frequent attempts at contacting Sanctuary, their MP or other authorities have failed to resolve the often extremely serious problems. As Sanctuary frequently don’t listen to their tenants or others negatively affected by widespread Sanctuary bad practice, we have become their voice. Your comment that it is not appropriate to meet with people who are not Sanctuary tenants – some of us are – is just one more typical excuse for Sanctuary to avoid confronting reality.

You refer to “revisiting historic complaints” but we made no mention of this. We are more concerned with the widespread and ongoing serious problems that are repeated again and again – year in, year out. These range from the bullying and intimidation of tenants, to poor quality or non-existent repairs to mouldy properties, to continual mistakes with rent payments and a great deal more.

Simon Clark, Group Director of Housing. Willing to meet tenants “unconditionally”?

Our request for a meeting was prompted by Sanctuary’s recent (13th November 2019) Inside Housing comments, which you have chosen to overlook in your reply: ‘Sanctuary’s Mr. Clark strikes a more conciliatory tone, insisting that he is willing to meet members unconditionally. Kate Reynolds, head of external affairs at Sanctuary, adds that there has been a “breakdown of trust” with some tenants and acknowledges that the association “has to work to rebuild it”.’

The above all sounds good and Sanctuary claim to be committed to serving tenants and residents. Yet, in reality, your typically dismissive attitude towards our proposed meeting clearly shows that Sanctuary don’t care. You could hardly make it more obvious.

As requested, we will post your reply on the Facebook group page, along with this response. We are interested in open and honest communication to improve the situation for all concerned. Given the widespread damage to so many people’s lives, we find it extraordinary that Sanctuary remain so insensitive, inflexible and excessively corporate. The large number of resulting complaints from tenants and staff alike can be found on an increasing number of review websites.

Even after being shamefully exposed on national television, Sanctuary still appear to be in denial about how diabolically bad things are for so many tenants and residents.

(New Landlords from Hell, Dispatches, Channel 4, 22nd March 2019. Please see for yourself how bad things have got or search for easily found video clips of the programme, Tim)

We will continue to do our best in supporting tenants and others in any way we can, be it offering emotional support or practical advice such as help in contacting solicitors.

Because we personally have been on the receiving end of Sanctuary’s devastating and inhuman incompetence, we care.

Yours sincerely,

Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group Admins.

Kate Reynolds, Group Head of External Affairs. An odd approach to rebuilding trust with tenants?

Reply from Kate Reynolds of Sanctuary to our initial email approach on Wed 12th Feb, proposing a meeting

Tue 18 Feb at 14:50
Dear Mr Burness, Mr Greensmith, Ms Prime and Ms Charlton-Toye,

Thank you for your email. We appreciate you contacting us directly and welcome the opportunity to respond.

While we recognise that we won’t get everything right, we are determined to resolve issues when there are cases where we have fallen short. Our view is and has always been that if tenants contact us directly, we will look into any current issues they may have. However, we cannot commit to revisiting historic complaints which have already been brought to a conclusion.

While we would be happy to meet with current tenants and discuss present day issues, it would not be appropriate to meet with people who are not Sanctuary tenants.

If you have any current issues or concerns with a Sanctuary property that you are living in, or services that you are receiving from Sanctuary, we would encourage you to provide details so that we can assist you in resolving any outstanding matters.

We support open and transparent engagement, and in that spirit, we would ask that you post this email in full on the Facebook group.

We recognise this will not be the response you are looking for but we strongly feel that we are best able to support our tenants and residents when they contact us directly.

Regards,

Kate Reynolds

Group Head of External Affairs

Deaths, incompetence and lies – the multimillion pound housing associations destroying lives

UK’s housing associations made record operating profits of £3.5 billion in 2017

Change must happen, this is madness.

Housing organizations with charity status are badly damaging thousands of people’s lives.

Some great work is still being done by large UK housing associations but they are now too big and too greedy to function properly. They are accountable to no-one, the regulators are a joke and have been for years. In one way or another, many thousands (most likely tens or hundreds of thousands of people) are being shat on.

This is a crisis and the government is doing nothing. 

Post-Grenfell, the government published a social housing Green Paper in August 2018, which suggested many moves in the right direction. So far, almost none of this has been translated into action.

The mainstream media are not reporting it.

Apart from a few articles here and there (others below), the mainstream media continues to ignore how bad things now are with large housing associations and their outsourced companies, even after the Grenfell Tower social housing tragedy. The big housebuilding HAs have become property developers with a lot of old and crumbling anti-social housing on the side.

New Landlords From Hell, Dispatches Channel 4, March 2019

Link to programme https://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/69156-001

Sanctuary Group, £198 million operating profit and in the region of £3 billion assets

Many social housing campaigners thought that a breakthrough moment may finally have come with the shocking evidence against Sanctuary Housing (one of the biggest and worst) presented on Dispatches, Channel 4, 22nd March 2019. Please see for yourself how bad things have got or search for easily found video clips. Sanctuary Housing Group continue to describe themselves as “One of the UK’s leading providers of housing, care and commercial services…” Leading providers? 

Immediately after the programme, Sanctuary Chief Executive Craig Moule’s responded to the allegation that Sanctuary appeared to have played a part in both the death of a pensioner and the development of a severe respiratory condition in a baby. “When anyone calls our values into question, it hurts.” Values!? This is about people’s lives.

Sanctuary Chief Executive Craig Moule, in denial and on over £350,000 per year

Without any reference to people’s considerable suffering (cases in Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Cornwall and Aberdeen), Moule then went on to laughably attempt to discredit the programme makers. “It struck us how little the programme makers knew about how housing associations work. It also struck us that they seemed to misunderstand our purpose.” Yet he made no effort to explain what he means by this, let alone present any evidence to support his view. Unfortunately, many folk in the Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide (2300+ members) can immediately recognize this style of communication from Sanctuary Housing. Clueless, dishonest and completely lacking in compassion. Come on Craig and Sanctuary, what’s wrong with you? Do you actually want to appear inhuman!?

Astonishingly, the Regulator of Social Housing found ‘no breaches of standards’ by Sanctuary (Inside Housing, 26.6.19). The shameless denial, corruption and establishment cover-up is breathtaking. 

Patricia Gavighan, died after 11-day boiler repair wait

Pensioner dies in freezing home

A ‘stressed, angry and cold’ pensioner died of a heart attack following an 11-day wait for her boiler to be repaired, an inquest has heard. Patricia Gavaghan, 80, died at her home, which was maintained by Morgan Sindall, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, on 22 December 2017. She asked a call handler at the firm if she was “meant to sit in her coat” and wait, the court was told. At the time there was an amber weather warning due to a prolonged cold spell. The hearing at Huntingdon Law Courts was told Mrs Gavaghan lived alone in Sycamore Road, in a bungalow owned by Clarion Housing and maintained by Morgan Sindall. Her family claimed the boiler system was more than 15 years old and engineers struggled to get parts to make repairs.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-49743535

There is a growing independent facebook complaints group for Clarion tenants (1700+ members) Clarion Tenants Support Group

5-year old girl dies in broken lift

Alexys Brown, died in a broken lift

“Two companies have been fined a total of £1.5m following the death of a five-year-old girl in a disability lift. Alexys Brown died in hospital after putting her head through a broken screen in the lift at her home in Weymouth on 13 August 2015. Synergy Housing (a subsidiary of Aster Group), her family’s landlord, was fined £1m and lift company Orona Ltd was fined £533,000. Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations by failing to maintain the lift properly. At the end of the two-day hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Stephen Climie described Alexys as “beautiful” and “priceless” and said no words of the court could ever compensate her family for their loss.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-46874763

Undiscovered dead bodies in sheltered accommodation

“Two dead bodies are claimed to have lain undiscovered in a retirement scheme for months, sparking complaints about “callous” cuts to care support. Neighbours have urged Suffolk County Council to reinstate funding for wardens and sheltered accommodation following the tragedies at Mussidan Place in Woodbridge, which is owned by Flagship Housing. The latest body was found on August 8 after a neighbour noticed the man’s kitchen was infested with flies. Residents believe he had lain there since June, when they first complained about a bad smell. They said they were shocked by the death – but it was not the first to go unnoticed. Another body was found in February. Neighbours said the dead man’s relative told them it had been there since November last year. They said the bodies would have been found sooner if not for budget cuts stripping away wardens who used to check up on residents.https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/flagship-housing-residents-in-woodbridge-criticise-sheltered-housing-cuts-after-two-deaths-1-6226463

Ceilings collapse in housing association properties around the country, warnings ignored

L&Q tenant’s ceiling collapsed on the morning of his daughter’s birthday – six weeks after first raising the issue and warning this would happen

Record surplus for 2017-18 of £348 million

All over England, this is increasingly common amongst the corporate profit-driven housing associations. This month with L&Q, for example https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/housing-complaints-goodmayes-london-quadrant-1-6326741 Inside Housing also reported on this, although they chose not to show the collapsed ceiling but instead, a lovely shiny picture of L&Q offices.

Places For People, £184.5 million operating profit 2017-18

Ceilings fall in with Places For People in Bristol

In May 2018, after having called out the Places For People maintenance team more than thirty times in four years, the ceiling caved in on a support worker and her family in Bristol.

Elderly residents left for 7 months with no ceiling in Ely housing block run by Sanctuary Housing

Elderly residents left with no ceiling for seven months

I’ve previously blogged about Sanctuary tenants having ceilings collapse in on them and this continues. Early this year, the Ely Standard in Cambridge reported:- Ceiling that came crashing down in Ely sheltered housing block for the elderly still hasn’t been repaired SEVEN months on.

Charlie Bissett, whose 92-year-old mother-in-law lives there: “This is completely unacceptable for elderly residents and they are all worried about it. The fire alarm has been going off constantly too – which is quite dangerous for safety purposes because they don’t know when to leave for a fire or not.”

But if so many large housing associations really are this bad, we’d all know about it by now, wouldn’t we? How about the Peabody Trust, a well-respected name in the world of charitable housing groups, originally founded in the 1860s?

Here’s a few reviews on Trustpilot “Peabody is a joke of a company.” “One star is way too much to rate this” “Shameful. Dreadful to deal with, just a constant loop of them lying that they will take action and come back to you… Do not deal with this company if you can avoid it.” “Unresponsive and disorganized housing association.” “Dreadful customer service and no accountability.” “Hopeless.

“A picture of what our kitchen wall has looked like for about a year.”

The complaints are much the same from all tenants across the whole sector. Mould and rat-infested properties, bad or non-existent repairs and maintenance, staff who don’t listen, fire alarms not working, destruction of tenants’ property, charges for services not done, inappropriate eviction threats, breaking of data protection laws, general incompetence, lies, lies and more lies

Hyde Housing More of the same in their 2200+ open residents group – Hyde Housing Independent Resident Group

Notting Hill Genesis. Riverside. Catalyst.

They’re all at it, across the whole sector and across the whole country.

Neither government nor media are seriously bothered about these companies shitting on people who are often vulnerable or elderly or disadvantaged in some way – not forgetting the many housing association tenants and their families who, relatively speaking, are none of these. Well done to a couple of MPs who’ve spoken out in Parliament but where are the rest of you? A very large number of you know all about this.

Change must happen. Regulate them – maybe break the big ones up? Even more radically, a bit more general honesty and kindness by groups like Sanctuary would be a good start.

If you are in a position to do so in any way, please spread the word, cheers.

Sanctuary Housing exposed – Dispatches Channel 4, 25th March 2019, 8pm

“Datshiane Navanayagam reveals the shocking conditions that tenants of one of Britain’s biggest social landlords are being forced to live in. A year-long investigation finds that Sanctuary Housing left family homes in disrepair and uncovers evidence that this had a critical impact on the health of some of their most vulnerable tenants. As the housing association has grown, official channels of complaint have failed to force it to act reasonably, leaving residents feeling voiceless. In desperation they’ve turned to social media to share their experiences and offer support. Dispatches asks: are housing associations the new landlords from hell?
Cast & Crew
Reporter Datshiane Navanayagam
Director Lionel Mill
Producer Lionel Mill
Producer Kate Mead

The above taken from online Radio Times

Many of us have been campaigning to expose Sanctuary Housing for 10 years. WELL DONE and THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone involved in the making of this programme.

Earlier blogs

2017 blog Sanctuary Housing – ceilings fall in and nobody cares

2016 blog A nationwide scandal – Sanctuary Housing

2014 (updated 2016) blog Housing regulation complaints – no regulation of service quality!

2014 Sanctuary’s neglect of the elderly and vulnerable

2013 MPs – please stop Sanctuary Housing

2009 (updated 2016) Are Sanctuary Housing above the law?

Facebook group (2000 members), help and support for all those struggling with this terrible company:-

Sanctuary Housing Independent Complaints Group – Countrywide

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