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    [Submitted by A MacFadyen]

    I have read the proposed housing charter, and I am about to point out my opinion on two areas.

    Travellers and Gypsy sites.

    Local authorities in Scotland state that they provide sites for above, what they are neglecting to do is adhere to the law, on common ground, where for hundreds of years travellers have had the right to camp, and stay, the local authorities are using the police to issue threats, and conditions to the travellers within 12 hours of them camping, this is wrong.

    As a scottish person who can trace my genetic link for several generations, and I am not of travelling stock, but can sympathise that authorities are bending the rules to uphold prejudicies of non travelling people, this has to be stopped, if it is an equal opportunity country then it is for all people in the country of Scotland. The local authorities have to be able to uphold the "law of Scotland" for the benefit of the people of Scotland, be they travellers, gypsy or common people. They should stop the bigotry which is in existence today and make it fair and equal. As Local Authorities making sites available for travellers, they are entitled to the same deal as the rest of the people, they should not only have a small building which houses a toilet, sink, and a room for washing machines, they should be able to have plumbed water to their static caravans if this is what they want, they are paying local authorities a weekly charge for these building plus council tax, and as such they should have the same entitlements as those in houses or settled dwellings. The local authorities should provide toilets, and bins on common ground camping, it is usually only for the summer, or when needed.

    The second Area

    Social Housing charter for elderly.

    This is also a can of worms, as stated in earlier discussions all people whether they have a court record are paedophiles, murderers, etc., etc., having served their time are entitled without prejudice to the rights of a home, be it with a housing association or private landlord.Have a mental health illness and deemed fit to be living "as normal" in a community have the same rights as everyone else.No one has the right to pick and choose their neighbours, but as a nation there are a lot of people can remember the "wars" also the extreme cases of child abuse, the murderers, and the less fortunate, conversation and rumours start, and then snowball about who has just got a tenancy, as housing associations have to rent to everyone there choice of people should not interfere about what has gone before, but unfortunately, this appears to be happening already, and when the new Scottish Housing Charter comes into force in 2015 it will have to obey the law of the land, it will be very difficult to re-educate people who feel they have a grudge, and understandingly it is very difficult to reassure people when "staff and management" feel they do not have all the facts. It is going to be about information and rights, and not as present about people.

    I am at present a tenant in a housing association, and a member of the Partnership Forum, Bield Housing Association. This is just my opinion.

    From Ian Spence, Social Housing Division - 23/05/2011
    Tagged as: allocations, gypsies and travellers

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    [submitted by Lynne Palmer, Perth]

    There should be something in the Charter re.

    1 Getting officers & staff to implement everything in the Charter.

    2 " " " " " keep to the Charter.

    3 How staff are at the "coal face" & in one to one situations. It's about the way we are treated; there could be something in the Charter.

    4 What about loop-holes caused by the way we might be treated e.g. a prospective tenant told the council he didn't want a bedsit flat, then he ended up in one. How did this happen? There should be something in the Charter to protect our rights.

    5 Staff don't understand about true participation, they do participation to fit their idea of it e.g. rent setting. ( pages 11 & 20 of Discussion Paper ).

    6 Quality-- how can you talk about good quality housing when people are living in bedsits & bedsit/kitchenettes? The Charter Discussion Paper mentions the SHQS on pages 13 & 21; but where can we contribute or give our opinions about the type of housing offered to us as tenants or the type/style of housing being built?

    7 Stigma-- it's always 'hovering about', there should be something in the Charter.

    8 Equalities-- if officers, staff & services did not stigmatise people we would be getting our human rights met & the equalities issue would be met also.

    From Ian Spence, Social Housing Division - 23/05/2011
    Tagged as: customer service, housing quality, equalities, allocations

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    [submitted by P.C.]

    You asked for comments. Our housing association has just passed to us an outline of what the charter will try to do to improve equality, amongst other things.

    Some comments for you to peruse -

    There may well be performance standards that housing officers have to adhere to, but I can assure you that there is not enough overseeing done of our housing officer by our housing association. Our housing officer is never seen in the building and is merely reactive, instead of being proactive. Many tenants do not pay any attention to her letters informing them of how and when they have breached their tenancy agreement and this is not followed up. Regular estate walkabouts should be brought in to force and there should be unannounced building inspections to keep an eye on things at regular intervals. If anything is seen, then the door should be knocked on and the individual dealt with on the spot, completely out of the blue. Letters are frequently not replied to, or you have to wait at least 3 weeks for a reply, from the housing officer.

    The repairs centre is also slow to get back to a tenant who has reported a fault. I would expect to be contacted within 48 hours, but this is not the case, so sometimes up to 3 phone calls have to be made to get someone out to fix a repair. A landlord should also provide a handyman service to his tenants - some properties have very high ceilings, light flexes are too short and impossible to reach to change a light bulb, for example, or to change curtains, or put up a curtain rail. Tenants should not be expected to have family or neighbours to do these jobs for them. It should not depend on your old age or your disability to get this kind of service from a social landlord.

    Homes should indeed be clean and tidy at the point of entry, but this is not happening either. The housing association I belong to gives tenants a decoration voucher and expects them to do the decoration and cleaning up for them!

    The local Council is not allocating homes fairly in my opinion. There are far too many people living in properties that are far too big for them. Their families have moved on and those of us who really need a larger property simply cannot get it, not even after several years of being on the waiting list. Those with the bigger properties are often telling lies on the council tax registration form and the council does not check the information out. This is costing the council a great deal of unnecessary money in housing benefit payouts. These people just refuse to move on. They should be made to move on to a smaller property - with no cash incentive! The council believes too easily what it is told. Many people register as homeless and they are nothing of the sort! Many tenants pretend they are separated from partner or husband because they refuse to give up the tenancy of their own 2- or 3-bed flat and because they can squeeze out from the housing benefit office a lot more money, but it is all a pretence. Not enough investigation is being done by the council to ascertain the real truth. The only people who seem to be getting re-housed quickly are genuinely homeless people and lots of foreigners from eastern Europe who have never paid into the system. More fairness to our own people needed!

    Landlords need to be much firmer regarding anti-social behaviour! It causes loss of income, deterioration of health and makes it very difficult for tenants to move house away from such a troublesome building, as I have experienced myself over the past 5 years. Because the housing association was so lax in dealing with anti-social behaviour, from 2 neighbours, these problems went on and on for over 5 years! No amount of complaining improved the situation and indeed there is still no monitoring that I can see of this neighbour still misbehaving, so the situation is still going on! Tenants are fed up with such poor service! What are tenancy agreements for? A waste of paper!

    A probationary period of at least 1 full year should be brought in for new tenancies. The population in our town centres is far too mobile and it is difficult for the authorities to trace where these tenants have gone to to retrieve money owed to them. Tenants should be evicted more easily. There are far too many excuses found to give anti-social tenants a second or third chance, making other tenants' lives a misery for far too long. The police are not robust enough in their actions.

    There needs to be much more customer participation in the monitoring, assessing and reporting on the quality of services received from the landlord, and on the quality of the service provided by the individual housing officer.

    From Ian Spence, Social Housing Division - 23/05/2011
    Tagged as: repairs and maintenance, customer service, housing quality, anti-social behaviour, customer participation, allocations

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