Council asks tenants: what do you want from repairs service?

Council tenants and leaseholders, together with members of the housing improvement board, have cautiously welcomed the latest Town Hall engagement exercise, intended to improve the pace and standards of the repairs service provided for the borough’s properties.

Service improvements: Croydon Council has decided to hear what its tenants have to say

The housing improvement board was established last year as part of the response to the scandal surrounding the appalling conditions of some council homes in blocks on Regina Road, South Norwood, as exposed in a series of television news reports.

It was with this in mind that some tenants were sceptical when Fisher’s Folly issued a statement last week in which they claimed, “The council continues to work closely with its current provider, Axis, to make sure residents receive a high standard of responsive repairs… Both parties are committed to continuing to raise standards and put residents at the heart of the housing repairs service.”

The housing improvement board issued a report earlier this year which was strongly critical of the council, and Axis, for failing to do enough to put right the living conditions of tenants.

The improvement board’s report said, “We have heard from many tenants that they struggle to make the council and Axis take issues seriously, they do not feel respected or taken seriously, and we have heard about some examples of shocking rudeness and inhumanity.”

As the council draws up the terms of its new service contracts for whoever replaces Axis next year, and with Susmita Sen now installed as the council’s new housing director, they are staging a series of roadshows and focus groups with residents which have so far left a positive impression.

Installed: council housing director Susmita Sen

This includes the housing board having recently held a meeting with Mayor Jason Perry and his cabinet member for housing, Lynne Hale.

“All credit to them for turning up for two hours, and sitting down with tenants and other board members for a serious discussion,” a source told Inside Croydon.

“I cannot imagine this happening with previous regime.”

The council is extending that consultation process with an online survey for tenants and leaseholders, which is open for responses until August 10.

The input will help produce a draft set of customer service standards, which potential repairs service providers must demonstrate they will meet if successfully appointed.

The council said, “The proposed standards cover expected service levels for reporting repairs, flexible appointments, thorough follow-up, a transparent complaints procedure and better support for vulnerable residents.

“They also set out how the new contract will support wider council priorities – working in an environmentally friendly way, supporting community initiatives, and providing employment and training opportunities to Croydon residents.”

The five-minute survey can be accessed online by clicking here.

Residents can also call 07881 677489 if they require a paper copy of the standards and survey or prefer to give feedback over the phone.

The council says it is also “looking for a broad range of tenants and leaseholders to work with to find a new housing repairs provider. This would involve reviewing bids from providers and contract monitoring”.

New approach: the council’s given a slogan to their housing strategy

Tenants and leaseholders are asked to register their interest by getting in touch via or calling 07881 677489.

“Building on our recently adopted and evolving Residents’ Charter, setting out clear expectations for our duties to tenants and the respectful and empathetic service they deserve, we are developing explicit customer service standards for any new repairs provider,” Mayor Perry said.

“These will make sure we have an efficient and accountable repairs service which works for residents and gives back to local communities.

“We still have a way to go in making improvements and providing a housing service that Croydon can be proud of, but I am confident that the work we are doing with residents is steering us in the right direction. I would encourage any interested tenants and leaseholders to keep getting involved as we work to get the most out of our current contract and restore confidence in the council’s role as a landlord.”

As one source close to the discussions with tenants and the housing improvement board told Inside Croydon, “So far so good.

“I guess the caution at this stage is whether involving tenants, which is good in principle, will actually lead to the council listening to them when they challenge officer orthodoxy.”

Read more: Investigation finds systemic failure and incompetence in council
Read more: ‘None of the tenants in Croydon trust anybody in the council’
Read more: Residents’ group pledges to keep up the fight for decent homes
Read more: Croydon shamed over ‘dangerous squalor’ in council flats

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Business, Community associations, Croydon Council, Housing, Lynne Hale, Mayor Jason Perry, South Norwood, Susmita Sen and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Council asks tenants: what do you want from repairs service?

  1. Lewis White says:

    Sounds promising–that the Mayor met –and talked with– with the Improvement board, is a good sign.

    I am fed up with faceless local government thay doesn’t say who it is, remains behind walls, never talks with the people — and I mean, UK wide. I speak as a former local government officer, for over 3 decades, who –along with collegaues–were always readty to talk with residents about the projects or services we were managing, that impacted on them.

    By phone– all our publicity had our work land lines, work mobile, office address, and email address clearly shown in readable type !. Oh–and the council had up to the 2010’s a real switchboard that stafed by lighting quick, old school telephonists, who could receive a call, put the caller through, and connect them with the team or person they needed to speak to, within 30 seconds of the caller calling.

    Sadly, that Council too, got rid of their switrchboard, and put in a “help centre”. And got rid of a very easy to navigate, comprehensive webite that had picture and maps. You would be hard-pushed to even find a phone number now for the help centre, on their sadly depleted, harder to navigate, stripped-down website. Oh well, sign of the cut-purse times in which we live I suppose.

    It is a sad refelection that the easist way to get a council officer’s work phone number now is to look them up on “Linked in”. What is the local authority world coming to ? Or maybe, got to a few years ago.

    I ask you–self promotion for local government offcers for the in-crowd of people on Linked in, while the poor old public who pay their salaries find a fire-wall of time-wasting ploys to put the enquirer off Whilst “help centre” staff can be personally helpful and pleasant, the fact that is that if you phone up, the wait will be several minutes, even if you are number 1 or 2 in the queue. Or mor likely, 10, maybe an hour.

    My hope is we have a sea-change in Croydon and all other local government to remove these artificial barriers.

    I have no idea if housing officers make themselves accessible to, and build long term working relationships with tenants, but when I worked only a few years ago at another London Borough and a housing association, designing landscape projects for housing estates, I was pleasantly amazed that tenants would call the housing officer –or we would meet them by chance on site– and have a conversation about their issue or problem in hand. Even good fedback !

    The Housing officers would also have a regular estate walkabout with the Tanants and Residents Assiciation , sometimes monthly, which must be good. I would imagine that Croydon do that too ?

    It was clear to me, in meeting tenants on their estates with or without the housing officer, that the fact that they were being listened to, by a non-faceless person, defused anger, and meant that there was a dialogue, and a response from the council…even if the answer was that sadly, there was no money at present to deal with the issue.

    Once people have got an issue “off their chest”, the anger normally goes.

    We now live in an internet dominated world, which maybe 75 % have access to and can navigate, but there is no substitute for real life contact. It builds respect. A two–way street. A conversation.

    O.M.G ! I just re-read the article and read —

    Tenants and leaseholders are asked to register their interest by getting in touch via or calling 07881 677489.

    A phone number ! A-m-a-z-i-n-g !!

    Things could be looking up !!

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    If implemented and resourced properly this will go a long way to repairing the damage done to it’s reputation. But the language needs tightening up with clear measurable targets and penalties for failure. It should be clear that moving forward failure is no longer a non cost option anymore for both the Council and the Provider.

    The council should no longer be blaming the provider if and when they fail and keep the responsibility and accountability in house.

  3. Peter Underwood says:

    Credit where credit is due – it is good that the Council now at least appears to be listening to residents. Though the important thing will be whether the Council and Mayor then bases future services on what resident’s really want.

  4. Good news. But it’s not rocket science! I’m pretty sure tenants the world over want prompt, courteous, professional service and to be kept informed. If they’d asked me first, I’d have saved the cost of the consultation and all the questionnaire analysis.

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