Partick Housing tenants, as featured on the BBC, are fighting back against hygiene neglect during the pandemic.
During the coronavirus crisis, Living Rent has been working hard to hold elected officials and landlords to account, ensuring that measures are put in place to protect tenants from the virus. First, we put pressure on the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Mr Kevin Stewart MSP, to back up the need for this protection with concrete legislation. On 6 May, 194 members and supporters of Living Rent signed an open letter to Mr Stewart, demanding that the Scottish Government legislate on the rights of tenants during the crisis and compel housing associations and landlords to implement appropriate hygiene measures, such as the regular cleaning of communal areas. Our argument is as simple now as it was then: hygiene kills the virus.
Regrettably, time and again we find that housing associations and landlords cannot simply be trusted to do the responsible thing and help stop the spread. Instead, they must be compelled to take the right course of action.
Partick Housing Association have been a case in point. While housing associations like Cube Housing and Glasgow Housing Association, after an initial period of inaction, had already committed to effective hygiene measures in light of the crisis before the Scottish Government had published its guidelines, Partick Housing Association continue to fail in their duty of care even after the publication of these guidelines.
Unfortunately, Partick Housing Association are in good company. Nationwide, all too many housing associations have shown themselves to be negligent, from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond.
Since the Scottish Government produced its document on ‘cleaning and hygiene advice for multi-storeys and high-density flats’ on 26 May, social landlords have had no excuse for not knowing exactly how to care for their tenants at this time. Yet in direct conflict with these guidelines, Partick Housing Association have failed on a number of points. For example:
- They have not been carrying out the ‘enhanced, frequent daily cleaning focusing on “high touch” surfaces which are in regular use’ which the Scottish Government stress are necessary.
- In fact, tenants were promised just one ‘deep clean’ for the entire month of June, which was woefully inadequate and had to be repeated following complaints.
- Although PHA have promised, ‘Normal communal cleaning will commence from 1 July 2020’, they have still not committed to complying with the government’s guidance on ‘enhanced, frequent daily cleaning’.
- They have not kept their tenants regularly updated with accessible information (e.g. letters, posters and leaflets) on how tenants’ health and safety are being ensured. The Scottish Government’s Social Housing Resilience Group have stressed that it is particularly important to do this while lockdown restrictions are being eased.
- However, tenants have been phoned out of the blue and asked whether they are still able to pay rent.
On behalf of the Partick-Scotstoun branch, Living Rent member Danny Pilkington has written to Partick Housing Association. He has put forward the testimonies of Living Rent members, spelling out exactly where Partick Housing Association are going wrong and demanding that they get their act together. You can read the letter in full here.
We are awaiting Partick Housing Association’s response.
* Are you having trouble with your social landlord too? You can get involved with the Hygiene Kills the Virus campaign via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/536842740568717/), or by contacting us at Nick.Durie@livingrent.org.
If you are based in Partick, why not join the Partick-Scotstoun mailing list for Living Rent? Contact Nick.Durie@livingrent.org
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