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How can I get my housing association to follow its own rules?


Fred2014
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(I don't know which forum my problem belongs in. Could an administrator please move this message if necessary? Thanks.)

 

My problem is that my housing association is refusing to follow its own rules, and I want to know if there is a way of compelling it to do so.

 

I live in a housing association complex of flats, on two storeys, that used to be 'sheltered accommodation' but is now designated as 'supported accommodation'. It is for over-55s only.

 

I'm in an upstairs flat, and because I have severe asthma, I sleep in the living room, as it has windows in two walls, which allows for a current of fresh air to flow through the room. I moved here to be in the country air, and I need those windows to be open, especially through the night.

 

Last September, the woman living in the flat adjacent to the one below me allowed her son to stay with her (I understand this was because of his marital difficulties). I wouldn't care about that, but she does not allow him to smoke in the flat, and so he smokes on the patio, and the smoke comes into my flat. As cigarette smoke is a strong asthma trigger in me, as soon as I smell it, I have to close the window. And he has a smoke about every half hour or so, so I'm always opening and closing the window. But worse, he gets up throughout the night - 1am, 2am, 3am, etc, right until dawn - and goes outside for a smoke. This means I either have to close the window before I go to bed, resulting in the air quality dropping gradually through the night, which can cause an asthma attack, or risk actually waking up in the night with an attack triggered by this man's smoke.

 

He could solve this problem very easily, by either walking around the corner, a distance of about ten yards, or going out the front door, which would put him on the other side of the buliding, a walk of a few seconds. The HA has asked him to do this, but he won't.

 

I have written letter after letter to my HA, but all they say is, "We can only ask tenants not to smoke if they are doing it on their own property". I have pointed out that the tenancy agreement forbids 'nuisance' and antisocial behaviour' and that, surely, damaging another person's health when you can easily avoid doing so constitutes one or both of these. But they never answer that point.

 

The most glaring thing, though, is the fact that for the last ten months he has been living there contrary to my HA's rules, and for some reason I cannot fathom, they are turning a blind eye to this. I have not been away from my flat since last September, except for a few days around Christmas, and I have had problems with this man every single day. Furthermore, my next door neighbours, who live right above him and both have serious health problems, have been distrubed by him in the early hours of every night as well. The husband has been keeping count of the nights they have been disturbed, and the total is now over 300 consecutive nights (and it's turning them both into nervous wrecks). He's living there, no doubt about it.

 

My housing officer approached all three of us to ask about this man, and we all told him he was definitely living there, and gave her what we felt were compelling reasons for our believing this. We also told him that we thought his mother wasn't living there any more (I've heard from several other tenants that she's living with a boyfriend).

 

And yet, when I wrote to the HA, ten days after the three of us gave our accounts to the housing officer, asking why I had to put up with this threat to my health from someone who was not even supposed to be living there, this is they reply I got:

 

“As regards your other allegation that your neighbour’s son is actually living at The Firs. Your neighbour denies this is the case but accepts her son stays there regularly. We do not prevent tenants from having their relatives staying over”.

 

Three people have been disturbed throughout the evening and throughout the early hours of the morning by this man, almost every day since last September, and have told the HA this, so they have absolutely no grounds for believing this man's mother.

 

Even if he were 'staying there regularly', which he is not, he would have been contravening the rules this HA has always enforced up until now We have always been told that relatives or friends of tenants must stay in the 'guest room', never in our flats. Once, when a tenant wanted her graddaughter to stay, she was forbidden to let her stay at her flat, and was told she had to sleep in the guest room, even though it was far away from the tenant's flat, and the graddaughter was only six. The HA said that staying in the flat would constitute overcrowding. And yet the HA tells me they allow a tenant's adult son to stay at her flat.

 

But as I say, he isn't 'coming to stay regularly', he's been living there for ten months - a man in his late 20s in a flat restricted to over-55s, of which he isn't the tenant.

 

None of this would matter much if it weren't for the fact that he's making the lives of three people very unpleasant, and damaging their health.

 

For the record, I do not think for one moment that the HA staff believes his mother's story - I think they're pretending to because it saves them the trouble of taking any action. This woman is very confrontational and aggressive, while I and my two neighbours are very quiet, timid types, so my guess is that they would rather deny us our rights that risk upsetting her. That's my opinion, anyway.

 

Just one more thing before I close. Even though all my correspondence with my HA has been scrupulously polite and very reasonable (and I have always communicated with it solely in writing), it looks as though it is now beginning to repond by attacking me. I recently got a letter from its housing mananer that concluded this way:

 

“If we are unable to meet to resolve this and you continue to repeatedly contact us referring to issues that have been already raised and dealt with, I will need to consider applying our policy for dealing with vexatious complainants and as a result we will restrict the number of communications we will accept from you.” (Please note that they have not dealt with any of the issues I have contacted them about).

 

So, it seems to me that my HA is behaving as a law unto itself. It is allowing someone to live in a flat strictly against its rules, and will not act to stop him from damaging the health of three tenants, even though this man is not a tenant himself. And now it is threatening to treat me as a vexatious complainant, even though it does not have a shred of evidence that I have been behaving like one.

 

Is there anything I can do?

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It's awful when you are in a situation like this & no one seems to be listening to what your saying.

 

So I've found the following, that hopefully will help you to finally resolve your current issues;

 

This information is for Housing Associations & gives info about, how to complain, who to contact & the Housing Ombudsman Services...

 

http://m.england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/complaints/complaints_about_housing_associations

 

One last thing, have you tried speaking to either the Tenant of the flat or the son involved, about the issues you have raised?

 

Good luck!

I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every single minute of it!!

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