Service Family Accommodation Contents

Appendix: Illustrative examples for written evidence

1)We received written evidence from service families highlighting various concerns related to their accommodation. In this Appendix we provide some illustrative examples.

Poor cleanliness when moving in

2)A service family described how they returned from overseas to their allocated house to find that the property was dirty and had been poorly maintained. They reported that CarillionAmey was reluctant and slow to respond to complaints, and its representatives did not appear to be aware of its own quality standards. Examples of poor maintenance included fractured and detached drainage pipes beneath the kitchen sink; the gas hob fractured and unusable; oven dirty and light broken; shelves missing; exterior walls caked in grass clippings; paved areas covered in weeds, flower beds unturned and bushes overgrown; entrance area filthy; and an active wasps nest in the shed. The serviceman commented that “it was immediately evident that it had not been correctly prepared for the move-in”.

Poor customer service

3)The wife of a serviceman compared her experience of several moves within Service Family Accommodation. The first, under the previous provider, was described as a very positive and accommodating service. More recently, she said she had experienced a very poor level of service from CarillionAmey. Despite hours of phone calls and complaints, the technicians had not solved problems. Her family was living in damp and mouldy accommodation and had not been offered an alternative home, despite some being available locally. She commented that “On moving day, the house was still dirty; carpets heavily stained, the oven dirty, evidence that mould had been painted over but not treated, the smell was overwhelming.[…] I have lost count of the number of hours spent trying to project manage the many faults that continue to exist with this house. For 8 weeks I spent 1–2 hours a day on the telephone trying to progress the issues. I was told on 24 occasions that someone would call me back but my calls were not returned. […] CarillionAmey have tried to close the complaint I raised in September 2015 regarding the state of the house. I have had many visits from technicians and management who listen to my concerns and yet do not progress the issues”.

Families left without basic facilities

4)A service family was left without hot water and heating for several weeks, despite telling CarillionAmey that they had a 7-week-old baby and a 4 year-old. The contractor was slow to repair the boiler, and failed to co-ordinate plumbers and roofers to install the new one. The serviceman advised that “The impact on our family has been huge. We have been constantly worrying about keeping the baby warm, we have not been able to clean bottles properly when there has been no hot water, our elder son has been having tepid/cold showers, it has been constantly cold in what is a poorly insulated house, it has not been good for my wife who has had to sit around waiting for people and constantly phone up for progress reports and I have had to take time off work for this whilst also spending hours on the phone trying to rectify the problem”.

Prolonged disruption to family life

5)A serviceman told us that a lack of routine maintenance to his family’s property resulted in significant structural damage which took over a year for CarillionAmey to repair. When the repair work was finally being carried out, the family did not have adequate facilities to live in and they were not offered alternative temporary accommodation. He was told they would not have an upstairs toilet or bathroom for the duration [2–4 weeks] and it was implied that his wife should wash the family, including a disabled child, in the understairs toilet. Major works were to be carried out while the family were living in the house, despite warnings of heavy contamination with brick and plaster dust. The serviceman told us that appointments were often missed or resulted in no work being conducted due to a lack of authority or resource. All repairs were made to the minimum tolerable standard. The subcontractors conducting work were generally skilled but had to use the lowest grade parts, materials and finishes possible. He considered the time allowed to conduct a repair was also generally inadequate, and a long winded and inefficient approvals process often led to repeat visits to assess, survey, approve and conduct work.

Concerns about how properties have been assessed for rent

6)A service family told us that they received what they considered an inconsistent banding in comparison to their neighbours and found out through an Freedom of Information request that the CAAS survey was never conducted on their house. They considered that this lack of a survey resulted in them paying much more for a home that was in worse condition than those adjacent to it. The serviceman reported that on speaking to his neighbour, he discovered that his house had been graded a B, whereas their house had been graded a D. He told us that this was confusing given that the houses were virtually identical and commented “On Condition, our house is the only house in the group which has been rated as a Decent Homes+ for condition, all others have been rated as Decent Homes which automatically reduces them by two rental bands. This is despite other houses having new boilers, renovations and new layout kitchens”.

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8 July 2016