The DORA committee discuss Housing, Safety and Trust
After the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, residents of Doughty Court and Oswell House in Wapping decided to take action to improve communication channels with local authorities. The newly formed Doughty and Oswell Residents’ Association (with the catchy abbreviation DORA) has begun to facilitate discussions, block by block, on key topics. Fire safety, repairs, local environmental issues, and THH plans for further major works have all been discussed so far.
Although new, DORA has quickly become part of the fabric of the local community. Each meeting has a theme, which is outlined in advance. This means that THH can advise the committee of programmes of works, and provide progress reports for residents in a timely, transparent way. Before every meeting, the committee holds a ‘surgery’ for residents with individual concerns: this allows everyone access to support, without distracting from the agenda of actual meetings. Another thoughtful decision was to make the position of Chair rotational, so as to be inclusive, and allow for more flexibility.
As the committee is keen to reach as many residents as possible, a real effort is made to open up multiple routes for involvement. Holding bi-monthly Monday breakfast meet-ups makes them accessible for those who work during the day, while a TRA WhatsApp group opens up another channel of communication for any residents who cannot make it to meetings in person.
DORA’s treasurer, Sheikh Ayesha Rashid, a busy full-time mum herself, says that the TRA has given her a lot of experience, which will allow her to confidently apply for part-time work in the near future. She has enjoyed working on the committee alongside fellow residents Matin Miah, the Vice Chair, and Mark Blann, who is similarly positive about the opportunities DORA provides to ‘influence decisions that affect all of us living here’. He is exemplifying this currently with his contributions to designing lights and signage, in the interest of improving fire safety for residents.
The final member of DORA’s committee is Shirley Bell, who had previous experience as an advocate for a group of local woman, and who liaises with THH officers in her role as Secretary. Shirley hopes that the TRA will continue to grow over the next year, putting on more events for the community, and encouraging wider social engagement. ‘Everyone is welcome!’
DORA's next meeting will be held on 23/04 from 6.45pm-8pm at Raine's House, Raines Street, E1W 3RU.
MyTHH: Manage your services online 24/7
MyTHH is an online service used to make life easier for all tenants and leaseholders. You can view your MyTHH account 24/7 and access a range of services whenever you want.
Over 1500 tenants and leaseholders manage their accounts through MyTHH. You can manage most of your transactions online and MyTHH also gives you a live view of rent, service charge accounts and repairs.
With MyTHH you can:
» View current and previous repairs on your property and the communal areas of your block and estate
» Take part in surveys to help improve services
» View your rent statements and balance
» Log requests directly
» View your leaseholders account and invoices
» Give notice to terminate licence or tenancy
» Message us securely
» Update self-serve account details
» View the major works and improvements THH has planned for its homes and estates over the next six years
» View parking bay, garage or store shed accounts
Signing up is quick and easy - just head on over to my.thh.org.uk and fill out a few details to register. Once your details are validated you’ll automatically be sent a username and password.
Dates for events and meetings in April
Collingwood TRA meeting
(6:30pm at Collingwood Hall, E1 5AY)
Brodick House TRA meeting
(6pm at the Idea Store, Bow - Gladstone Place)
Locksley TRA meeting
(6.30pm at Locksley Community Centre/Dora Hall)
Cranbrook TRA meeting
(6pm at Cranbrook Community Centre)
Doughty & Oswell RA meeting
(6.45pm-8pm at Raine's House, Raines Street, E1W 3RU)
Older people’s afternoon – sports, tea and a choir
(12-3pm at St. Matthias Community Centre)
Community day – stalls, music, a bouncy castle, games and face painting
(3-5pm at Our Lady & St Joseph Catholic Primary School on Wade Street)
Afternoon dinner and entertainment
(4-7pm at St. Matthias Community Centre)
Job fair and BBQ
(2-5pm at Wigram House Community Centre)
Landlords fined £13,000 for licensing, nuisance and safety breaches
Two landlords and a company director who left their tenants at risk of fire, failed to repair leaks and did not obtain a landlord licence were ordered to pay a total of £13,333.29 after pleading guilty to a total of 11 offences under the Housing Act 2004 at Thames Magistrates Court on 8 March 2018.
This happens to be the first prosecution by the Council’s selective licensing team.
The court heard that the ex-council flat at 41 Clifton House, Club Row, London E2 7HB was owned by Mr Muhammed Nazrul Haque of Shirley Gardens, Barking, Essex. Mr Haque had rented the flat to the agent Oceans Property Limited of 118 Stepney Way, London E1 3BG under a “guaranteed rent” arrangement. The sole director of Oceans Property was a Mr Kamal Hassan Shumon of Ashfield Street, London E1.
Oceans Property separately let each room in the property to tenants, and in doing so changed its use from a family dwelling to a house in multiple occupation.
The Court was told that although both landlords derived a significant income from rents received from the occupiers, neither applied for a landlord licence despite being advised to do so by the Council. A Council notice requiring a leak in the shower room to be repaired was ignored and the leak was allowed to continue for six months, causing damage to flats on the three floors below 41 Clifton House before Mr Haque eventually took action.
An inspection by the Council’s environmental health team found the property to be poorly managed. The water supply to the shower had been disconnected, leaving the occupiers without facilities for 16 days. Despite the high fire risks, the fire precautions provided were minimal and those that were present were not working. Each landlord decided the other was responsible for meeting legal requirements with the result that the occupiers were left at risk, and the people who owned or lived in the neighbouring flats were greatly inconvenienced by the leak.
The Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Sirajul Islam said: “This case highlights the problems that can arise in poorly managed houses in multiple occupation, which is why the Council are considering a new additional licensing scheme to cover this kind of property. We are very interested to hear the views of landlords, tenants and others who may be affected by the scheme. You can find out more about the proposals and have your say about it here.
Further information and fire safety advice for landlords and tenants can be found on the Council’s website.
New Deal for Leaseholders
At the beginning of 2017, we asked our leaseholders how we could improve services and communication. You told us that you wanted more relevant information about major works payments, more transparency and better access to digital services.
In June 2017 we launched our New Deal for leaseholders to give you better payment terms and consultation for major works, access to partner services, clearer details about rights and responsibilities and better digital services. With the latest copies of our leaseholder estimates, we sent all leaseholders a booklet with an overview of the four main areas that fall under the New Deal, which include:
• Major works – better payment terms, more consultation and transparency
• Rights and responsibilities – a clearer outline of the rights and responsibilities you have towards us and we have towards you
• Online services – MyTHH, an online platform which allows you to manage your account 24/7
• Repair services – new repair services for leaseholders from our partner, Mears
You can read full details about all of the elements above in our ‘New deal for leaseholders’ booklet, which is downloadable from our website.
30th birthday celebrations for SPLASH: what’s changed, and what’s to come?
South Poplar and Limehouse Action for Secure Housing began with a ‘splash’ in 1988, born out of the upheaval caused by large-scale construction in the Docklands. The community came together to defend themselves against the potential loss of their secure tenancies and the ensuing gentrification of the area. In total, 500 council homes were destroyed to make way for the new global financial centre, but with SPLASH’s tireless campaigning, £3 million was secured from the development corporation to renovate properties across the ward.
Over the years, SPLASH has also developed both the Workhouse Leisure Centre and Poplar Baths, as well as running countless community services for local people. These have included: ESOL classes, Employment advice, Study support, Estate fun days, and summer trips to the seaside – last year, 22 coaches took local families to various beaches over the course of four months.
Looking forward, SPLASH is working towards forming a Neighbourhood Planning Forum, which will allow residents some control in altering the developments once again planned for the area. The main focus is ensuring that genuinely affordable housing, priced according to local wages, as opposed to market prices, is built. The ultimate goal is ‘500 for 500’ – enough affordable homes to replace those lost in the 1980s.
Over the last weekend of April, SPLASH is running several events in the local community to both celebrate the big 3-0 and to invite residents to contribute to ideas for the Neighbourhood Planning Forum. Everyone is welcome.
Friday 27th April: Older people’s afternoon – sports, tea and a choir at St. Matthias Community Centre from 12-3pm.
Saturday 28th April: Community day at Our Lady & St Joseph Catholic Primary School on Wade Street – stalls, music, a bouncy castle, tea, games and face painting from 3-5pm.
Sunday 29th April: afternoon dinner and entertainment from 4-7pm at St. Matthias Community Centre.
Monday 30th April: Job fair and BBQ at Wigram House Community Centre from 2-5pm.
At each of these events, there will also be a celebratory exhibition of SPLASH’s history over the years – and what a history it is!
Fun Palace launches in Bethnal Green
Fun palace is an ongoing campaign for cultural democracy, with an annual weekend of action every October.
The weekend of action uses a combination of arts, craft, science, tech, digital, heritage and sports activities, which are all lead by local people for local people.
In the last 2 years, there have been 2 Fun Palaces, which both took place at Boundary Estate – each year it has grown bigger with more people and communities across the estate and beyond the Boundary getting involved.
In February, Fun Palace 2018 was official launched, with Rich Mix hosting the event. The originator of Fun Palace was there to speak about how successful it has been, not just in England but across the pond too, with Fun Palaces in Australia, Germany, Norway, New Zealand and the USA!
THH have been actively involved in the Fun Palace, along with with resident lead Philip Green, St Hilda's Community Centre, and LBTH. This year the Fun Palace will be even bigger with two events taking place over the weekend of 6th and 7th October 2018 at St Hilda’s and Rich Mix. We always need volunteers on the day so if you are interest in taking part, please let us know at ResidentEngagement@thh.org.uk.