East London residents left without heating over successive winters

by Pete Mason, Chair, Barking Reach Residents Association

  • *Flat numbers in this article have been changed for privacy reasons

Last Christmas, on 23 December 2022, the Barking Reach Residents Association on the Barking Riverside estate in East London gathered the following information from residents in Argent House:

“Flats 1072, 1005, 2001 and 1008* are all without heating in Argent House. Flat 1072 has care of a one-year-old and eight-year-old at weekends, flat 1005 has a two-year-old child.

“Flat 2001 has been waiting for the issue to be fixed since the spring, flat 1072 no heating or hot water since 14 October, flat 1005 since July, and flat 1008 since they moved in, in June.”

Promises by housing association London and Quadrant (L&Q), that contractors would turn up failed, and these issues were not resolved. Christmases were ruined.

After Christmas, one resident wrote:

Dear L&Q Team,

I am emailing from a place of disappointment and anger at the shabby way we are treated as residents of your property.

We have endured two biting winters without heating as L&Q have sent at least eight people to check our heating and none has been able to fix it since December 2021. This leaves me wondering if incompetent people are sent or if L&Q has just decided that their tenants can freeze to death and ignored the recommendations given to fix it.


My family spent the entire Christmas and New Year sick because we were stuck in a freezing house unable to recover. This has happened two years in a row, same problem…

Barking Reach residents safety protest.
Following a fire in 2019, residents in Barking have fought for
safety. Photo: Pete Mason

Now, the government’s own housing ombudsman says L&Q is even ignoring their official warnings! A Guardian report on 19 September carried a picture of our estate. The ombudsman’s report demonstrates that L&Q is far worse than other housing associations, which are bad enough as anyone can tell you.

This is not a case of good or bad local property managers at the front line. I’ve urged them to join the Unite the Union housing branch. This is a case of them being inadequately resourced.

The article in the Guardian came out the day before our Barking Reach Residents Association monthly meeting, and we agreed to demand that L&Q should double the resources put into our estate to resolve residents’ issues, without extra cost to the rent or service charge.

I’ve had three responses so far, none of which address my request. An L&Q executive member wants to speak to me in person to “fully understand” the issues. We wrote 2,000 words and he can’t understand the issues?

Makes my blood boil.