Housing associations to be held to account in Stratford district - The Stratford Observer

Housing associations to be held to account in Stratford district

Stratford Editorial 30th May, 2023   0

HOUSING associations could soon be held to account in Stratford district.

Members of Stratford District Council are currently working on how better to support those living in housing association properties in the town and the surrounding area.

Coun David Curtis and Coun Jenny Fradgley proposed back in December last year that more needed to be done to help these tenants, especially in light of the death of toddler Awaab Ishak as a result of mould in his home in Rochdale.

They agreed at the time that many residents lived in properties managed by housing associations and councillors were often made aware of tenants who faced long waiting times before issues were identified and resolved.

They also raised concerns about ever increasing service charges which continued to add financial burdens to these tenants and that tenants often felt that their concerns were ignored.

Members of SDC’s overview and scrutiny committee will consider a report on Friday (June 2) which calls for the council to hold housing associations accountable.

One key proposal, which councillors will consider at the meeting, is to set up a ‘task and finish group’ whose members will further explore the suggestions put forward on how to best support these housing association tenants.

This decision was put off until after SDC’s annual meeting when the new membership of the overview and scrutiny committee would be confirmed.

The report reads: “Following the recent news story where two-year-old Awaab Ishak died as a result of mould in his home, all councils need to ensure this never happens again. This council needs to exert influence and demand better from housing associations for our residents.

“We ask that the council arrange regular meetings between all councillors and those responsible at all housing associations in Stratford district, that the contact details of a named employee are made readily available to all councillors so that serious problems can be reported directly, and that training for councillors, on the process of taking complaints to the housing ombudsman, be arranged.”

Once formed the task and finish group will report back to councillors, while plans are also afoot to regularly invite those in charge at housing associations to overview and scrutiny committee meetings.

Two-year-old Awaab died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by extensive mould in a one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

On raising concerns, his dad Faisal Abdullah, was allegedly told to paint over it.

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, which owned the flat, has since been stripped of its funding and MP Michael Gove called for an update of landlord guidance to include damp and mould, as well as to review the housing health and safety ratings system.

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