Richmond residents 'wait months for repairs' as 'diabolical' housing slammed at election debate

Vivian Carvalho, 35, Chertsey Court, Mortlake, Richmond upon Thames
-Credit: (Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)

The state of housing repairs in Richmond has been slammed as 'diabolical' by parliamentary candidates vying for local seats, with tenants waiting months for repairs. Candidates hoping to represent Richmond Park and Twickenham in the next parliament shared their frustration about the issue at a hustings on June 24, along with their ideas on how to tackle it.

Munira Wilson, who was elected Lib Dem MP for Twickenham in 2019, faced questions from residents on housing at the hustings, along with Labour's Philip Moshi, representing Twickenham candidate Tom Bruce, the Conservatives' Twickenham candidate Jonathan Hulley and the Green Party's Richmond Park candidate Chas Warlow. The event was held at the Masonic Centre in Twickenham by local disability charity Ruils and also covered health, social care and special educational needs and disabilities.

When quizzed on holding housing associations to account, Ms Wilson described the state of repairs in Richmond as 'diabolical' and said she has met regularly with provider Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) to raise concerns. She added she has signed letters to RHP and other providers, with Richmond Council, 'about the state of the repairs, the delays and we've challenged them to do better'.

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York House which serves as Richmond Council's town hall in Twickenham, Richmond upon Thames
Richmond Council is consulting on its social housing improvement plan -Credit:Google Maps

She added: "They have changed contractors, there was a minor improvement, I still don't think it goes anywhere near far enough and I know the council is currently consulting on its five-point housing improvement plan which RHP is signed up to and will be held accountable for."

The council's public consultation on the social housing improvement plan, which aims to drive improvements in the sector, closes on June 30. It aims to put residents' voices at the heart of decision-making, improve services, tackle disrepair, create well-insulated, sustainable homes and invest in communities.

Sarah Thomas, chief executive of RHP, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) it is keen to work with Ruils and local MPs to address issues raised at the hustings. Ms Thomas said RHP has signed up to the council's social housing improvement plan, while it is committed to meeting government regulations designed to improve services for tenants.

Ruils election hustings on June 24 at the Masonic Centre, Twickenham
Candidates for Richmond Park and Twickenham faced questions from residents at the hustings on June 24 -Credit:Charlotte Lillywhite

Mr Moshi also described services provided by RHP as 'appalling' and raised particular concerns over its record in repairing homes for disabled people. He said he wants the council to reclaim powers given to RHP when it transferred all the housing stock it owned to the newly-formed organisation in 2000 to put tenants 'on top'.

In public meetings Mr Moshi has attended, he said: "There was a woman who said it took three years for RHP to repair her shower, they did it badly, she's constantly given the run around, and another woman who said that she had missed 10 appointments for her gas boiler because the gentleman didn't turn up… there's also waiting two to three months for repairs, [logbooks] saying that they've finished when they haven't."

Mr Hulley told residents he has supported RHP tenants over the past year, including a family who have not been able to secure a shower and working toilet for more than a year. He said: "It is shameful that there are housing associations in this constituency, and I have to name RHP here today, who have fallen short of their obligations to many, many residents... and when you try and contact them you are met with a wall of customer service silence."

Mr Hulley said the state of repairs in Richmond 'must change' and the Social Housing Regulation Act, passed last year, sets clear standards requiring housing associations to improve. Mr Warlow said the Greens, as the official opposition on the council, had been holding the authority to account, while he also called for 'more pressure' on housing associations like RHP to carry out repairs quicker.

Organisers said they had no response from the Workers Party, Social Democratic Party, Reform UK or Chris French, who is listed as standing as an independent candidate for Richmond Park, when inviting them to attend the hustings. Voters will head to the polls to choose who they want to represent them on July 4.

'We take these concerns very seriously'

Ms Thomas told the LDRS: "As a socially responsible landlord the safety and wellbeing of our customers is our highest priority, and our aim is to work with customers to meet their individual needs. As such we take these concerns, which have been passed on to us by Ruils Independent Living, very seriously.

"We'd already agreed to meet with the charity's senior team alongside representatives from Inclusion London and the Tenant's Champion of Richmond, and local MPs at their earliest convenience and look forward to receiving a revised date following their cancellation. We're keen to work in partnership to learn more about these issues, so we can make sure they are addressed.

""As a matter of priority, I'd strongly urge our residents to contact us directly about any concerns they have regarding repairs or otherwise, so we can work with them to get them resolved in a timely manner.

"As a regulated housing provider, RHP is fully committed to meeting building safety regulations and statutory measures in property compliance, as well as delivering on the government's new consumer standards. Importantly, these standards are driving improvements in the sector to ensure all providers provide quality homes and services for tenants.

"As part of this, we're working hard to improve how we capture and use customer insight data to identify diverse needs and vulnerabilities to better plan and provide service adjustments for our customers."

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