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2nd Jul, 2022

Frustrated tenants 'not being treated like human beings' by housing association

Catherine Thompson 12th Jun, 2018 Updated: 13th Jun, 2018

FRUSTRATED tenants in Stratford say they are not being treated like human beings by a housing association.

Orbit residents said it was becoming increasingly difficult to contact the association, and bosses needed to do more to help tenants.

Helen Nelson, who lives in Shipston, has set up a Facebook group which has since gained some 170 members. Disgruntled tenants also recently held a meeting.

She said: “I think we have more power as a group as some individuals don’t necessarily get heard and just get the standard response.

“Orbit is not meeting obligations and as a group we can be a voice for those people unable to speak out. I’m really pleased so many people are getting on board.”

One of the main gripes people had in a common was a lack of communication.

Ms Nelson added: “There’s no access to the office in Greenhill Street. People are asked to get in touch by an anonymous phone line or via the internet but what about tenants with no internet or difficulty using the phone?

“The humanity is gone. We’re not being treated like human beings.

“They forget social housing is for people on low income or who may be vulnerable, and they are shutting off tenants who might need things sorted.

“It used be a personal service where they would get to know the tenant and look at your personal circumstances and computers can’t do that.”

She added the way in which rent arrears was handled was often ‘aggressive’, with many people experiencing difficulty with the switch over to universal credit, which had resulted in late payments.

District councillor Jason Fojtik, a former Orbit tenant himself, said late payments went on record regardless of the circumstances, leaving a ‘stain’ on the tenant’s name, and a second late payment prompted a swift eviction process.

Both Coun Fojtik and Ms Nelson said they had paid for various repairs to their homes after Orbit officers had been unhelpful or poor quality work had been carried out, or contractors had not even turned up.

Orbit customer service spokesperson Paul Richards said the company welcomed the new group and was keen to meet with members and discuss ways in which to improve the service.

He added: “We have developed a new customer promise that is really gaining momentum and as a result, customer satisfaction is growing.

“The decision to close the reception in Greenhill Street was not taken lightly. People are increasingly interacting with us over the phone and on our website. We have services in place to support those who may be more vulnerable and we will be investing heavily in an improved phone service and website in the coming months. We are also reviewing the tone of our communications to make them more approachable and easier to understand.

“We are committed to Stratford for the long term and continue to invest significantly in the area, working with the local authority to help local people access affordable housing by building over 400 new homes over the next three years.

“We had a really positive conversation with the group organiser and look forward to meeting with everyone next month.

“If customers have any issues, we encourage them to come to us directly so we can work together to resolve them.”

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