The Regulator for Social Housing recently released a damning judgement, confirming that Haringey Council has breached a number of health and safety requirements in its properties, such as not having electrical safety reports for thousands of homes, and, most gravely of all, failing to complete a significant number of fire safety actions - including 4,000 designated as high risk.

The regulator said this had "potential for serious detriment to tenants" - rather an understatement when you consider the possible consequences of leaving high risk fire safety issues outstanding. They have also criticised the council for the number of homes that do not meet the decent homes standard. It really is an unprecedented report into the council’s housing management.

At the same time, the council is also currently being investigated by the Housing Ombudsman, which is distinct from the regulator, due to its poor handling of mould and damp issues. Haringey has been singled out for an investigation, alongside the housing association L&Q, due to the high number of recent cases identified as high risk.

Ham & High: Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison says that drastic action is needed to sort issues found in Haringey Council's housingCllr Luke Cawley-Harrison says that drastic action is needed to sort issues found in Haringey Council's housing (Image: Liberal Democrat Group)

That investigation will decide whether the damp and mould cases are ‘indicative of wider failings" at the council. It is hard to believe they will arrive at any answer except yes.

And it's not only council tenants being failed. I am currently investigating issues with how the council handles major works to leasehold properties, in some instances going back many years, and issues with its private sector leasing service. Meanwhile, councillor inboxes are flooded with tenants raising issues with repairs being carried out inadequately or, in many cases, not at all.

I am pleased the council has set up a Housing Improvement Board that will look at these failings, and the service as a whole to try and move it out of the critical state it’s in, and I have joined this as the Lib Dem representative and will ensure that I use my position to help change how the council does housing. 

However, Haringey Liberal Democrats believe that drastic action and greater investment are needed now, or problems will only get worse, condemning thousands around the borough to living in poorly maintained homes. That’s why, long prior to these critical reports, we proposed that the council should set up its own service level agreement with tenants and leaseholders, which will include an automatic compensation scheme for late and poor quality repairs.

It is clear to us that the council bureaucracy will only begin to prioritise tenants when the council itself suffers financial penalties, so that is what we must do, as part of a much greater package of changes.

Luke Cawley-Harrison is the Lib Dem oppostion leader at Haringey Council.