Community Housing Inspectors expose anti-social practices by Haringey Letting Agents and serve Cease & Desist orders
Return of the Community Housing Inspectors – See short video below
On Saturday 27th April 2013,as part of a London-wide day of action against Letting Agents, 20 Haringey Community Housing Inspectors went out to investigate the practices of local Letting Agents in Green Lanes, Haringey. Other actions took place in other parts of London including in Islington/Hackney, Brixton and Herne Hill, see the campaign blog www.letdownblog.wordpress.com Haringey’s action was a follow-up inspection to one held six months ago – in October 2012, members of Haringey Housing Action Group became ‘Community Housing Inspectors’ and exposed the unwelcome practices these Letting Agents are engaged in: profiting and supporting landlords all to the detriment of the basic need of people to find an affordable, secure home.
Over 20,000 households in Haringey rent their homes from private landlords, and about half of these are claiming housing benefit. The greedy and discriminatory practices of letting agents are a huge problem for Haringey as well as London as a whole. Our inspections showed how local Letting Agents were
- promoting unaffordable rents
- discriminating against benefit claimants and people on low wages
- charging extortionate fees, and
- offering only insecure tenancies
On Saturday 27th April we returned to carry out further inspections to find out if any of our demands for changes had occurred. We served Cease and Desist Orders on eight Letting Agents found to be engaging with one or more examples of the above greedy and anti-social practices: Wilkinson Byrne, Easy Properties Ltd, A1 Estates, Hane Estates, Kings Lettings, Winkworth, Bairstow Eve, and Brian Thomas.
Our inspections involved interviewing staff inside the various offices and then formally serving Cease and Desist orders on them. We informed the public of the anti-social practices and crimes being committed by the Letting Agents. Our inspectors cordoned off the entrances as a crime scene and gave out over 800 leaflets with our demands. There was great public support from passers by and cars honking their horns.
There were a range of responses. Winkworth and Bairstow Eve closed their doors and refused to answer our inspection survey. An employee at Brian Thomas admitted (before refusing further questions) that new company policy means that they now discriminate by refusing to accept people on housing benefit – a new development, as six months ago our inspection revealed they were. In fact, out of the eight visited three admitted refusal to accept people on benefits.
We were alarmed to note that Kings Group (who refused to answer our questions last year) require a guaranteed, provable, regular income of 2.5 times the rent before they will accept a tenant. This excludes a large number of tenants who have to try and live off the lowest wages in our society. Rather than this being company policy, they put the blame on the reference company (who they refused to name) who they say make this demand of them.
Another of the Agents, Hane, recognised there was a serious problem with the lack of affordable housing but blamed the government and landlords. Easy Properties also agreed with us that people should not be forced to move due to high rents, but denied any responsibility on their part and called on the Council to do all they could to support tenants in this situation.
There was not enough time to stop at every Letting Agents along Green Lanes, but we already had information that others, for example Paul Simon and Anthony Pepe, were basically no different from the ones above. We agreed to continue to monitor and visit all Letting Agents in the area.
Background legal information
The Cease and Desist order* gave notice to the above Letting Agents, as of Sat 27th April 2013, to cease and desist from committing any further anti-social behaviour** and/or crimes against tenants, including one or all of the following:
- Ensuring an unaffordable housing market
[In contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25]
It should be noted that until 1988 most private tenancies were secure / long term and rents were capped by law at affordable levels. In a recent report, one in five landlords had increased their rents because their letting agent had encouraged them to. This was five times as many who had done so because of increased mortgage costs. Read the rest of this post »
April 27, 2013 Tags: bairstow eve haringey, brian thomas haringey, community housing inspectors, day of action against letting agents, easy properties haringey, green lanes letting agents, Haringey community housing inspectors, haringey housing action, haringey letting agents, haringey letting agents proest, haringey private tenants, housing action protest, housing inspectors, kings group haringey, let down protest, letdownrenters, letting agents, letting agents protest, letting agents protest 2013, london renters, paul simon haringey, private tenants demonstration, winkworth haringey Posted in: LOCAL ACTIONS, NEWS, PRIVATE TENANTS Comments Closed
April 27, 2013 Tags: community housing inspectors, haringey housing, haringey letting agents, haringey letting agents protest, housing inspectors, letdown renters, letting agents protest, Return of the community housing inspectors Posted in: LOCAL ACTIONS, PRIVATE TENANTS Comments Closed
We demand: Bring rents down – stop discrimination and fees – bring back security of tenure
We believe: Everyone is entitled to a decent, secure, affordable, local home
Join us for a return of the Community Housing Inspectors
We will once again be taking to the streets of Haringey to inspect local Letting Agents as part of a Day of Action across London.
Saturday 27th April, assemble at 12 noon outside Turnpike Lane tube station
Six months ago, on 6th October 2012, local housing campaigners became ‘Community Housing Inspectors’ to investigate our local letting agents and uncover the unwelcome practices they are engaged in. See video report: http://haringeyhousingaction.org.uk/community-housing-inspectors-demonstration-video/ Next Saturday we are carrying out further inspections to find out if any of our demands for changes have occurred. Where they have not, we are providing a ‘Cease and Desist Order’* to those Letting Agents found to be engaging with such greedy and anti-social behaviour. The ‘Cease and Desist Order’ will only be revoked if they put an end to such practices.
Some of the unwelcome practices include:
- Discriminating against housing benefit claimants
- Extortionate charges to prospective and existing tenants
- Encouraging short term tenancies to maximise renewal fees
- Inflating rents
It should be noted that until 1988 most private tenancies were secure / long term and rents were capped by law at affordable levels. Fees are categorised as extortion and outlawed in Scotland. Discrimination against benefit claimants should be illegal under Equalities legislation. If you’’ve had enough of such dodgy behaviour, come along. Read the rest of this post »
April 22, 2013 Tags: discrimination against benefits claimants, haringey housing action group, haringey housing problems, haringey letting agent protest, haringey letting agents, haringey private tenants, haringey private tenants network, letting agents protest, no to dss Posted in: LOCAL ACTIONS, PRIVATE TENANTS Comments Closed
Haringey Haringey Housing Action Group join Haringey Solidarity Group & others demanding return to rent caps and to bring a stop to the benefit cap
Cap Rents NOT Benefits – Scrap the Benefit Cap Protest
Monday 15th April, 8am-10am, Stratford Benefit Delivery Centre, Department for Work & Pensions
Up to 25 people joined us to protest against the benefit cap on the first day of the pilot due to commence today in Haringey, Enfield, Bromley and Croydon, before being rolled out nationwide in the summer. These four trial boroughs were apparently chosen because one office processes all their benefit claims. We called on the workers to join with us to bring a stop to the cap, and passersby supported our calls to oppose the cap and that a rent cap was required to bring unaffordable rents down. Read the rest of this post »