Tenants take Guinness housing association to Ombudsman over anti-social behaviour problems in Milton Keynes

Zoe Nolan
Zoe Nolan

One of MK’s biggest housing associations has received a rap on the knuckles from the Ombudsman for failing to tackle tenants’ complaints about anti-social behaviour.

Guinness Partnership was ordered to pay compensation for distress and inconvenience to tenant Sally Newton for the distress she suffered living in a block of flats at Grange Farm.

Ms Newton had to move elsewhere because of the unbearable due to noise, drug dealing and disruption generated by a fellow tenant over a four year period.

She said: “Our block of flats has been exposed to violence and crime with Guinness repeatedly taking no action.

“I hope this ruling will make Guinness aware that they have to protect the rights of all of their tenants and I hope our success will inspire other dissatisfied tenants to take action against ineffective management at housing associations.”

Councillor Zoe Nolan said tenants had gone through hell with the constant anti-social behaviour.

But, despite frequent involvement of police and the council, Guinness bosses refused to even meet to discuss the problem, she said.

One of the biggest problems was the failure by Guinness to repair the lock on the communal entrance to keep out the unwelcome visitors.

Now Zoe, who helped the Grange Farm tenants in their battle, wants to find out if other Guinness tenants elsewhere in MK are having similar problems.

The Guinness Partnership is a huge national social housing landlord and has 66,000 homes - including hundreds in MK.

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“I am aware there are other colleagues who have problems with the response of the Guinness Partnership to issues such as repairs,” said Zoe.

“Guinness needs to ensure they serve all communities and listen to local tenants. In this case the Ombudsman found that they failed to act on the genuine concern of tenants for four years. I think that this highlights the problem of a large remote national landlord not valuing or listening to their tenants.”

Zoe has asked the council’s Housing Scrutiny committee to investigate the performance of Guinness and other social landlords.

A spokesman for Guinness Partnership said: “The Ombudsman found that while we worked closely with the police, council and other agencies to try to resolve two complex ASB issues, our response to Ms Newton could have been better.”

She added: “ We have apologised to Ms Newton, and reiterate our assurances to her and all our residents that we do value their views and take all concerns seriously.”

The spokesman said the Guinness Partnership works “constantly” to ensure they provide good services to all their residents .

“We have reviewed our complaints process to ensure prompt escalation and resolution of any issues. We welcome all feedback from our residents, and Councillor Nolan, and will work hard to address any areas for improvement.”