Council slammed by regulator after thousands of social homes breach minimum standards

Investigation by housing regulator finds more than 100 Haringey Council properties had serious hazards and nearly 5,000 did not meet minimum social housing standards, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Broadwater Farm
Broadwater Farm Estate

Thousands of social housing tenants were put at potential risk after Haringey Council failed to meet fire and electrical safety requirements, a watchdog has found.

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) said there was the potential for “serious detriment” to the council’s tenants after ruling the local authority had breached UK consumer standards.

According to the regulator, the council failed to complete a significant number of fire safety tasks, including 4,000 that were deemed high risk.

The watchdog found the council did not have up-to-date electrical safety reports for thousands of homes. Its investigation also revealed more than 100 properties had serious hazards and nearly 5,000 did not meet minimum social housing standards.

Kate Dodsworth, director of consumer regulation at RSH, said: “Haringey Council put thousands of tenants at potential risk by failing to meet health and safety requirements for fire and electrical safety. Our investigation has also revealed that a significant number of Haringey Council homes do not meet the decent homes standard.

“The council needs to act urgently to put things right for tenants, and we are monitoring it closely as it does this.”

The council brought the management of its housing service – previously outsourced to council-owned management firm Homes for Haringey – back under its direct control in June last year. It referred itself to the watchdog in January after identifying a failure to meet statutory health and safety requirements in some of its homes.

The council is now undertaking a full condition survey of its tenants’ homes and has put a programme in place to address the issues. It says it has already taken actions to ensure the number of overdue tasks starts to rapidly come down.

Dawn Barnes, the Liberal Democrat group’s spokesperson for housing, described the regulator’s findings as “completely damning” and said the failings “must be corrected immediately”.

Cllr Barnes added: “Haringey also faces real questions about how this was able to happen, and how long they knew about these issues before action was taken. Tenants deserve answers and complete transparency over the issues Haringey is aware of in their properties and when they will be brought up to acceptable standards.”

Council leader Peray Ahmet and chief executive Andy Donald said in a joint statement that the regulator’s findings confirmed what they had expected – that there are “some serious shortcomings in our current services in key areas of compliance including electrical safety and fire risk assessments”.

They added: “We fully understand that a well-maintained home is a foundation that every person living in this borough should be able to expect. We are very sorry that our residents have not been receiving the quality of service that they should have done. What is important now is that we move quickly to change this.

“Our tenants and leaseholders are experts about their homes, estates and communities, and we want to benefit from their views and experiences as we look to improve the way we work.

“The council has taken a series of actions to ensure the number of overdue actions starts to rapidly come down since we initially reported the figures to the regulator in December.

“We know that we need to build trust with our tenants, build trust with our leaseholders and we will only be able to do this when they see real progress on these issues.”

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