The following message has been sent to Sanctuary Students notifying them of the rent strike:
Dear Sanctuary Students,
Over the past year the Residents’ Council, with the support of SOAS Students’ Union, has attempted to raise a number of complaints, issues and problems on behalf of residents at Dinwiddy House and Paul Robeson House. This has included cockroach and rodent infestations, water outages, hot water outages, delays to repairs far exceeding Sanctuary’s stated policies, problems with communication, staff and security entering rooms/flats without notice, accessibility (including the accessible ramp being closed off for two days and the accessible toilet being used as a store cupboard) amongst other issues. This has been compounded by Sanctuary failing to recognise either the Residents’ Council or the Students’ Union as representatives of Dinwiddy and Paul Robeson House residents, not responding to multiple emails and holding meetings at which no resident is present.
Despite the open meeting held on 4th March which allowed residents to put their complaints directly to Alene Campbell, it appears that very little of these issues have been taken on board. Many of the complaints raised were not included in Sanctuary’s response to residents and few issues have been satisfactorily resolved, Santuary have maintained that the Residents’ Council is not legitimate and the proposals for compensation were entirely inadequate for the unacceptable conditions and service which residents have endured.
As a result of this, the Residents’ Council has been left with no option but to advise residents to withold their final rent instalment until the following demands are met by Sanctuary:
– A full and unreserved formal apology from Sanctuary Management for the mismanagement and inappropriate handling of at least the following issues: pests, repairs, security, health and safety, accessibility, communications, reports of staff misconduct, bullying, break-ins, entering rooms without notice/knocking, room allocations.
– Compensation of at least £800 for all residents in Dinwiddy and Paul Robeson House.
– Monthly open meetings with Sanctuary Management staff, with all residents of Dinwiddy and Paul Robeson House, as well as the SOAS Students’ Union executive, free to attend. A response should be published within a week of these meetings.
– Monthly meetings with Sanctuary Management staff, SOAS staff and SOAS Students’ Union. At least one resident should be present at these meetings.
– Where meetings must be held between Sanctuary Management staff and SOAS staff without a Students’ Union representative or resident present, an agenda should be released beforehand and the minutes afterward.
– We call for a thorough review of all internal procedures at Dinwiddy and Paul Robeson House including complaints, repairs reporting and implementation, emails and communication, Senior Residents system, and staffing and training.
Representatives of the Residents’ Council and SOAS Students’ Union are available to meet with Sanctuary Students immediately to agree the implementation of these demands and bring this dispute to a swift resolution.
In the interests of transparency, we will be making this email available to residents.
The Residents’ Council
Update: Sanctuary’s response
Thank you for your email of 23/04/15.
Due to the content of the email, I have shared this with my line managers.
You will be reassured to note that we will be attending a pre-arranged with SOAS University colleagues, ourselves and representatives of the SOAS Student Union. The serious matters that you have raised in your email will be discussed at that planned forum, next week.
Residents’ Council response
Regretfully, the Residents’ Council has not been invited to the meeting mentioned in Sanctuary’s reply and, whilst we welcome the presence of the Students’ Union, we do not recognise the legitimacy of a meeting about residents with no residents present unless there is a good reason for this to be the case. Under these circumstances, we see no good reason. The Residents’ Council will work with the Students’ Union to ensure that the Residents’ Council and residents are represented at this discussion in order to reach a swift agreement of our demands.