Ms Mary Moss
30 April 2008
Thank you for your recent email to the Prime Minister about young people in care, the Youth Parliament and the problems you are having with your landlord, Community Housing Association (CHA). Your letter has been passed to this Department for reply on the issues raised about your landlord as we have policy responsibility for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs - more commonly known as housing associations). I am unable to comment on the points you raised on children in care and the Youth Parliament as they do not fall within our policy area. May I suggest you refer any correspondence on these issues to the Department for Children, Schools and Families directly.
You have asked for the Housing Minister to investigate why you have not received compensation from your landlord and establish an independent investigation on the disrepair of CHA properties. We are unable to agree to your request because neither Ministers nor officials can intervene in the day to day activities of RSLs, such as CHA, as they are independent not-for-profit organisations responsible for their own aims and objectives, performance and management. This Department sponsors the Housing Corporation to fund new affordable housing and regulate RSLs in England. RSLs, such as CHA that are registered with the Housing Corporation, must meet the Corporation's eligibility and registration criteria, and they must then demonstrate ongoing compliance with the Corporation's Regulatory Code and guidance in respect of their financial viability, governance and management.
I am aware of the problems you are having with your landlord as Councillor Jonathan Simpson of Kings Cross Ward, Camden Council, recently raised this issue with the Housing Minister, Caroline Flint. The Housing Corporation was able to supply the Communities and Local Government with background information on your case and it would appear that the delay in resolving the insurance issue is because the insurer, Royal Sun Alliance, is awaiting evidence of the financial losses incurred. This is essentially a contractual matter between you and your landlord and one in which this Department is unable to intervene.
The Corporation’s Regulatory Code also requires RSLs to have a responsive repair service that meets legal and contractual obligations and is efficient and effective. The Housing Corporation's Regulatory Code also requires all RSLs to have in place an appropriate procedure for dealing with formal complaints. If you are not happy with any of the actions of your landlord including its handling of repairs and maintenance then you should consider contacting your landlord’s complaints officer with regards to making a formal complaint. I am attaching a copy of the booklet "Complaining about a housing association" which you may find useful.
If, having completed this process, you remain unhappy with the outcome then your next course of action would be to refer your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service. I am therefore enclosing a booklet that explains the Ombudsman's scheme and provides their contact details.
I hope this information is helpful.