On Monday 3rd February 2020, the BBC’s Panorama aired a programme titled: “Cashing in on the Housing Crisis”. The programme featured two of the properties we own and manage in Harlow: Terminus House and Templefields House.
Secret filming took place and specific allegations were made against certain members of our staff regarding tenant privacy, security and reporting procedures. We take these issues extremely seriously and were disappointed with the footage and some of the views expressed. We are grateful to Panorama for bringing them to our attention and as soon as we were made aware of them we instigated an internal disciplinary investigation. At the time of broadcast this remained ongoing. We are also reviewing the information and reporting procedures between head office and building management.
In terms of issues raised:
- Examples of anti-social behaviour were highlighted in the programme. Caridon does not tolerate criminal and antisocial behaviour of any kind at any of its buildings. We act robustly and swiftly when made aware of such issues. We have evicted significant number of tenants over the years with cases currently before the courts, including some of the individuals shown in the CCTV footage on the programme. Where necessary we will continue to do so, as well as reporting them to the relevant authorities, local agencies and the police with whom we have a close working relationship.
- We sympathise with the concerns raised by our tenants and welcome any further feedback they may have. We regularly encourage them to get in touch with us directly with any specific concerns they may have, so we can seek to improve the service they receive.
- Another issue highlighted in the programme was the length of time some tenants remain in this accommodation. Our studios in these properties are only intended to provide a temporary housing solution to transition individuals out of shared accommodation, and insomecases, away from homelessness. We sympathise with Nic and his wife’s plight. Because of the scale of homelessness and lack of alternative available accommodation, residents often do not move as quickly as they would have hoped to. This is regrettably out of our control.
We welcome anything that will stimulate a wider debate among national and local government, the private sector, charities, architects, academics and other stakeholders on the best possible ways in which to address the social housing shortfall; which is not of our making.
Each year local authorities refer huge numbers of people to private landlords, as their resources are massively stretched and they have little or no social housing available. As the programme points out this is a national problem and we have no say as to whether we accept or reject tenants as the local authorities can place tenants at their sole discretion due to the leases or nomination agreements in existence.
All Caridon’s properties are built and managed to the highest standards and comply with all relevant government legislation. As a private developer and manager of the properties, Caridon provides a level of support exceeding that provided by other private developers and beyond our contractual terms. Unlike other private developers we offer housing related support to our tenants that are vulnerable within the community. We have successfully helped tenants turn their lives around with the supportive service we provide, going above and beyond for individuals. We break the mould in social housing and the stigma given to social tenants.
There are many case studies and testimonials of tenants who have had a positive experience in our accommodation, which can be found here. To get a balanced view, we would urge you to consider the other side of the debate and read the following thought piece, which addresses many of the issues raised by all those who contributed to Panorama’s programme.