Massive bills from out of the blueThe main part of the housing improvements involves installing new kitchens and bathrooms in council properties to bring them up to standard but also includes communal areas and windows. But the leaseholders have to pay their share of everything – whether they like it or not. This comes as no surprise to Love Wapping who often tells prospective purchasers of flats on the lovely Green Bank Estate (LW HQ) to watch out for massive maintenance charges. We have heard tales of residents being hit with a charge for £35,000 out of the blue. Curiously this exact sum is mentioned in the Standard story.
Tower Hamlets HomesTower Hamlets Homes (THH) is the trading name of Tower Hamlets Homes Limited, a not for profit company limited by guarantee controlled by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets also known as an ALMO – Arms Length Management Organisation. In other words THH is the Tower Hamlets council’s housing department but a separate organisation. Sort of. Tower Hamlets Homes’ Chief Executive Gavin Cansfield has announced that he will be leaving his role later this year after six years in the position. Mr Cansfield has been a staunch advocate of Tower Hamlets Council’s provision of ‘Mother Tongue / Bengali language lessons’ services much criticised by Eric Pickles, as can be seen in his article written for the Guardian newspaper, Why Eric Pickles is wrong about local language services. In it he praises the benefits of ‘language support’ and the THH ‘We Speak Your Language’ scheme. No mention of the alternative approach of providing English lessons to any THH tenants who do not have an adequate grasp of the language. Could be handy for all sorts of things.
Overcharging by THH contractorsLove Wapping has also heard from very reliable sources of overcharging by contractors working for THH including:
- Multiple billings for the same job
- Excessive charges for minor work
- Charging for work that is never actually done
“THH contractors have made numerous visits to treat the damp. But all they do is a cosmetic job, stripping wallpaper and treating the surface of the wall. The cause of the damp remains. Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of building knows that treating damp is a waste of money until the source is fixed.The damp comes up from the floor so it doesn’t take an expert to work out that there might be something wrong with the damp proofing of the building. No one knows for sure because no one can be bothered.”Anita was eventually temporarily re-housed and the damp work done properly. But how many other Anita’s are there in the borough? It would be very interesting to carry out an investigation into this. Here’s how it could be done.
(The stark reality of social housing in Wapping, LW, 31 January 2014)
- Identify all Tower Hamlets council tenants who suffer from health problems such as respiratory infections often caused by damp
- Identify all Tower Hamlets council properties where remedial work for damp has been carried out
- Compare 1 against 2
- Check the costs of works for each property