‘Rent hikes are unfair’ says Heysham housing association tenant

John Robinson is not happy with the maintenance of St. James Court, Heysham
John Robinson is not happy with the maintenance of St. James Court, Heysham

A Heysham resident says the housing association which owns his home should be doing more to keep costs down at the properties it owns.

John Robinson has lived in St James Court for 18 years, and is one of the longest-serving tenants.

St. James Court, Heysham

St. James Court, Heysham

The houses and flats are owned by Places for People, but Mr Robinson says their rent increases are not in line with other similar properties, and their charges for extra services are unfair.

“The rent is due to rise again this year and some of the residents are of the opinion that we are getting a bad deal and greatly over charged,” the 57-year-old said.

“We have to pay several service charges on a weekly basis, for example we are charged for communal cleaning, but this does not now happen on a weekly basis, it is only done when they come to cut the grass on a two week basis, and obviously this does not happen during winter months.

“Another charge is for landscaping which is not required on a weekly basis.

“The repairs that they carry out are substandard; it is so bad that unless I am absolutely stuck I do most of my own repairs, just to make sure they are done right the first time.

“The boilers are now 18 years old and forever breaking down. The last time my boiler stopped working properly I engaged my own gas safe fitter to fix the boiler. It took him 30 miniutes to correct the fault, and since then I have had no problem, yet the housing association said they would have to do a far more complecated work to fix the problem and the wait would be two weeks.

“A lot of the residents have in the past tried to stem the rent increases, and have been in touch with a lot of people to do this but to no avail.

“The association do not listen to the residents; the rents on this estate are the highest rents acrross their portfollio yet we seem to get the worst service.”

Mr Robinson said he pays almost £131 a week for a two-bed house, while his son pays £500 a month for a privately-rented three-bed property nearby.

“Me and some of the other residents have been in constant contact over the rent rising,” he said. “It goes up every year.”

A spokesman for Places for People said:

“We are sorry to hear that Mr Robinson feels that his repairs have not been dealt with quickly enough. We have attended his home within the allotted time to undertake a small number of repairs that he had requested and these were completed within our agreed timescales.

“The boiler repair was logged and an engineer attended on January 25 with parts booked for January 31. Further repairs were booked in but Mr Robison cancelled these on February 3.

“The communal areas and site are maintained to an agreed standard and we were last on site on the February 6 2017 to clear some litter. Our health and safety officer visits the site weekly and one of our managers on a monthly basis to ensure that the standards are maintained.

“Mr Robinson’s property is a market rented property which means that the rent is higher than would be charged for a social rented property.

“However, we have held any rent increases back for the last two years and the properties were all fitted with new kitchens last year.”