Tenants feel 'forgotten and neglected' as landlords face unprecedented number of complaints

In an exclusive report ITV News Investigations Correspondent Daniel Hewitt reveals that housing associations and councils have received an 'unprecedented increase' in the number of complaints made by tenants in the past year

The number of tenants complaining about their housing association or council has risen dramatically in the last 12 months, ITV News has learned.

Complaints to the Housing Ombudsman increased from 10,015 to 16,289 between April 2021 and March 2022, a rise of 63%.

Data shared with ITV News shows L&Q (1,202) were the most complained about housing association, followed by Clarion (749) and Peabody Trust (537).

Peabody experienced the biggest jump in the number of complaints year-on-year, with a 123% increase.

Complaint cases received April 2021 – March 2022 Housing associations by complaint cases received Landlord Name Cases

  • London & Quadrant Housing Trust 1202

  • Clarion Housing Group Limited 749

  • Peabody Trust 537

  • Notting Hill Genesis 440

  • Hyde Housing Association Limited 343

  • Thames Valley Housing Association Limited 342

  • Sanctuary Housing Association 296

  • The Guinness Partnership Limited 278

  • Home Group Limited 222

  • The Riverside Group Limited 208

Analysis of case numbers by ITV News shows the Ombudsman is now dealing with twice the number of complaints about social landlords than in 2019, when it received 7,769.

In a statement, Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway said: “We have faced an unprecedented increase in complaints over the last year.

"Increased awareness of our role, media coverage on the quality of some social housing together with the challenges faced by social housing landlords with the cost of living crisis and ageing homes have all contributed to this.

“We expect complaint volumes to remain high and would reinforce the need for landlords to have effective leadership to drive a culture of learning and improvement. Complaints and the learning from complaints are important to help maintain effective services."

The figures only reflect those tenants who took their complaint to the Ombudsman, and not complaints made directly to their landlord.

Between April 2021 and March 2022 there were 11,580 complaints made to the Ombudsman about housing associations, and 4,512 about local authorities.

Complaints about local councils have risen significantly in the past year, from 2,663 to 4,512.

The Ombudsman received the most complaints about Lambeth (298), followed by Birmingham (234) and Southwark (193). Leeds City Council (147) was the only other non-London authority in the top 10.

Complaint cases received April 2021 – March 2022 Local authorities by complaint cases received

Landlord Name Cases

  • Lambeth Council 298

  • Birmingham City Council 234

  • Southwark Council 193

  • Haringey Council 155

  • Leeds City Council 147

  • Westminster City Council 136

  • Hammersmith and Fulham Council 133

  • Camden Council 118

  • Islington Council 113

  • Hackney Council 107

Spotlight on Peabody Trust

As part of our ongoing ITV News investigation into the state of social housing, we have been contacted by a number of tenants from Peabody Trust.

One of the country’s oldest and largest housing associations, Peabody owns more than 100,000 properties in London and the home counties.

Housing Ombudsman data shared with ITV News shows the social landlord saw the biggest increase in complaints of any major housing association between 2021 and 2022.

Gemma Osborn is not surprised.

She lives in south London, and has experienced 12 leaks in the 13 years she’s lived in her Peabody flat.

The latest downpour inside her home came at the end of October, when so much water leaked from ceilings it came through light fittings. The lights blew while she and her sons were inside the two bedroom flat.

The ceiling in her hallway collapsed, and there is now a big hole in her kitchen ceiling too.

'They have neglected us - they have not kept us safe as their tenants,' Gemma said

Gemma says she warned Peabody back in September the leak had come back again, but work wasn’t carried out to prevent it getting worse.

Gemma and her sons were moved to hotel, where they spent nearly three weeks sharing one room with no cooking facilities.

They have now been placed in temporary accommodation and are still waiting to be permanently housed.

Gemma has been living in a hotel room with her two children. Credit: ITV News

In Peckham, Iyehsa Bent and her three children say they’ve been through hell as Peabody tenants.

They lived next door to Sheila Seleoane, a Peabody tenant who died inside her flat and whose body was left for more than two and a half years.

Iyehsa was among the neighbours who complained about an appalling smell, flies, and maggots coming from Ms Seleoane’s property, but no meaningful attempt was made by Peabody to discover what had happened.

In February this year police found Ms Seleoane’s body badly decomposed, and an inquest heard her probable date of death was August 2019.

'The smell from my neighbour's body caused me to be in hospital for a week'

Iyesha and her children was so traumatised living in the block of flats she requested a move, and in November was relocated to a house in Brixton.

However, on the day they moved into the property, it began severely leaking, with water falling on Iyehsa’s 17-month-old child as he lay sleeping.

'It could have got so wet up there that the roof could have just went 'bang on my baby',' Iyesha said

When they tried to leave the property, the lock was jammed and the front door would not open, so the family were unable to get out.

The family were initially moved into a hotel for several weeks but have now moved back to the property. Peabody still hasn't found the cause of the leak.

Phone footage shows how the front door would not open, posing a fire hazard

A spokesperson for Peabody said: “Everyone has the right to live in a safe, comfortable home. Our job is to put things right when they go wrong, and all of our residents should expect to have any issues they raise dealt with promptly.

“We are working hard to resolve the issues raised and are really sorry for the inconvenience caused by these repairs being needed.”

On the 123% increase in complaints to the Ombudsman, Peabody said it was due to the launch of the Ombudsman’s new Complaint Handling Code and better publicity around how to get help with housing complaints.

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