RBKC “Alternative” Residents Summit
First of all we have the news that – yes some suit has FINALLY seen it fit to get into contact with our blog from RBKC Community/ Resident Investment/Engagement (whatever they call it these days – still same thing) and notify us of an upcoming event which starts this evening. So we will say a big thank you to whichever suit sent this and now THINKers will do our job and publicise, so here goes (plus some extra commentary from us of course):
“The Alternative Residents Summit”
“Despite the restrictions of lockdown we can still enjoy a little light relief. We would like to invite all residents to join us at our Alternative Residents’ Summit, which due to lockdown restrictions, we will hold online this year. Plans are well underway for what promises to be an interesting, interactive and fun event that we are sure you will enjoy”.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 20TH 6:30pm – 8pm
“Grab a seat on your sofa for a quiz and virtual tour of the borough. Landmarks, hidden gems and a few stories of life in the borough in bygone days”
Residents can join via Zoom on this link: HERE
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21ST 2pm – 4:30pm
“Learn who does what in Housing Management”
“Award winning food writer and campaigner Jack Monroe joins us to discuss the challenges this year poses, and we’ll have a panel discussion and cookery competition.
(For more information on the cookery competition (subject to change) , please contact email@example.com )
Residents can join via Zoom on this link HERE:
Well we hope other residents do enjoy these events and find them useful, but some of us are certainly in no mood for this.
As to learning who does what in housing management, perhaps RBKC would like to hurry up and answer this long overdue Freedom Of Information request that one of us sent:
This FOI request was sent back in April – the law states they must respond within 20 working days. All our Editor received back was an acknowledgement they received it and they said they would respond by May – liars. She requested an internal review back in July; also ignored by RBKC. We could ask why these very simple questions are being ignored – but we just wish our council would pull their socks up and provide us with an answer, please.
As for our housing services, THINK are not so sure that VIP guest – food writer and social campaigner Jack Monroe will be too impressed when she hears about some of the conditions that some of RBKC’s council housing residents are expected to live in (after all, they’ll be no cooking for one of us when the council refuses to replace to replace old rotting kitchen cupboards which have gaps and holes in them) plus a number of other more serious issues.
We are also concerned about the proposed changes to tenancy agreements; we believe these need a serious overhaul if RBKC really wants to commit to positive change and improved relations and communications with its tenants and leaseholders post Grenfell.
So our blog will go through some of these and also go into part of the ordeal that one of us has had to put up with by way of explanation in some parts; so we hope others can forgive us for not being in the mood to “party”…..
Proposed changes to RBKC Tenancy Agreements: A THINKer’s view
First of all this:
In fact only a SMALL NUMBER of RBKC social housing residents were consulted about these proposed changes. Certainly some of us weren’t. See this post of ours again:
It is certainly not a fair process of consultation if residents belonging to the TCC (Tenants Consultative Committee) Homes group were not thought worthy of inclusion in the process by the council at all and even more unfair and disproportional when a far larger number of residents in council housing have not even been made aware that the TCC exists.
Next, there’s this:
What is this “Tenant’s Handbook” ? Most of us don’t have one and many of us have never even heard of it. Moreover, why does this have to be separate fron the agreement anyway? Putting out various separate documents/booklets etc. all relating to what amounts to the same thing only causes confusion.
As for repairs caused by neglect or damage, we think this more than reeks of blaming tenants for the council’s neglect. Those rotten kitchen cupboards that one of us has were provided by the council!
This resident has been desperately asking to move (more on that later), will not spend money they do not have on a property they are desperate to leave and does not know the first thing about DIY anyhow (if RBKC encourages complete novices to fit kitchen cupboards they really will end up with tenants causing damages to council properties by the way). Nearly six years ago when that tenant was forced to take this property (a final “offer” – in fact it was the only offer of housing and not really an offer – more “accept this or you’ll make yourself homeless and we will never house you”), the council refused to fix most of the problems. RBKC/KCTMO’s work can be shoddy at times to say the least ; just look at these tiles protruding from a kitchen wall and the gap (which again RBKC have refused to fix):
RBKC also gave the same tenant a bathtub with a hole in – which rather than bother to replace, had just been filled in!
We understand that a very small minority of tenants may have caused harm to their properties but that is in many cases difficult if not impossible to measure properly who has damaged what and when because RBKC themselves in conjuction with KCTMO, have poorly maintained and in some cases, severely neglected quite a lot of their housing stock over a number of years – especially properties that were earmarked by the council for regeneration or potential regeneration and also a certain number of street properties.
There is also a monumental failure on the part of this council to keep full up to date records on the conditions of properties as well as on tenants.
It’s not only “Catastrophe Claire” Williams’ records and notes that appear to have ended up in the bin…..
Here’s another page, we don’t disagree with or object to these rules of course, but just have a look:
What we object to is the format and the tone of it – eg. “You have to do this, you cannot do that”. There are only a couple of paragraphs on the agreement relating to the council’s responsibilities – and it doesn’t go far enough in our view. This format of the tenancy agreement and most of the wording of it remains COMPLETELY UNCHANGED since the TMO days.
Look, we are very pleased that the council is really taking fire safety seriously, we also very much highly welcome and applaud the decision made by RBKC some time back to restore lifetime tenancies – these are excellent and positive changes. But we believe that they must break firmly with the KCTMO past and they must start again with the tenancy agreements – and, by consulting ALL tenants and leaseholders.
We strongly suggest they change the format and wording – so in part 1 – with rules and conditions – is “what we expect from you ” and part 2 of same agreement is “what you can expect from us”.
So what should tenants and leaseholders expect from RBKC, some may ask?
Well, we would expect to see a condition on all housing staff and repair staff to keep full records of conditions of properties and needs of tenants – because they don’t – and there appears to be no condition that they do . See this:
What about the vulnerable? The ill, the disabled and the elderly? We believe that these chronic failures of RBKC/KCTMO to keep up to date records and documents puts the wellbeing of these residents at risk. Council housing management should not purely be just about properties and finances after all
We also expect tenants to be protected from violence and threats. RBKC have proposed this:
But this isn’t good enough. It does nothing to fully address needs of safety of residents if it is not properly enforced and if the council will not fully commit to moving tenants who have been subject to violence and/or threats away from problem neighbours.
The same tenant mentioned above, has also been a victim of violence in their block – from their downstairs neighbour (whose flat they have to go past every day) and also once (from druggies using the bin cupboards who punched said tenant’s front tooth out ) when the tenant went out to put their rubbish out in the cupboards late at night and accidentally happened to inadvertently interrupt these trespassers and their illegal activities.
The tenant is terrified and absolutely desperate to move. Kim Taylor-Snith and the housing officer responsible gave permission to move – but that’s it – no action taken to move her. Instead she is just told that she can bid under the system but has ZERO chance of being moved under that system as she is fairly young- ish, in good health and able-bodied and does not have many housing points.
RBKC just punishes this resident further and tells her she needs to go to the doctor in order to stand a chance of having her housing points increased – ridiculous.
This tenant also lives right around the corner from Grenfell and is affected , but is not considered by RBKC to be eligible for the Local Lettings Policy- under which she might stand more chance of being rehoused – because she does not live in Lancaster West Estate, Treadgold House or Bramley House. So RBKC is making an already traumatised resident (who lives nearer to Grenfell Tower than a few parts of Lancaster West) suffer even more by not accepting her case and other similar cases on this scheme.
There needs to be a guarantee that the council will act to move victims of violence immediately, otherwise the bleak prognosis is that the only way herself and others in a similar position will ever leave their living hell of a council home will be in a bodybag.
Lastly, THINK will reply to this below, as this was obviously proposed by council officers reacting to something we said on this blog:
Here is what one breach of data protection by housing officers towards ourselves was: Housing staff used our blog email and passed that email address along with one of our personal details to other departments without our knowledge or consent. Our Editor was contacted by RBKC Electoral Services via our blog email. She did not hand these contact details to them, she is on the electoral register anyway of course, but the point is, neither she or the blog consented to this and that is the email addresss for the blog and NOT for our personal details to be used and shared freely – for electoral registration or not – and certainly not for the council to pass around; completely unacceptable
Anyway, we will end by wishing all at the events a happy weekend .