Private Renters occupy DCLG

Well done to housing campaigners from London Renters who today occupied the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in protest at evictions and insecurity of tenure. The campaigners bedded down in sleeping bags in the department’s lobby to highlight how being evicted by a private landlord has become the leading cause of homelessness.

The DCLG have reportedly held a workshop about ways to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants. But we want secure tenancies for all tenants, and in particular an end to ‘no fault’ evictions, where a landlord can evict a tenant for no reason.

Members of our group have had landlords refuse to renew tenancies, or threaten eviction, after tenants have complained of disrepair.  But there are even greater numbers of people who would rather not complain, and continue to live with damp or poor heating, rather than risk triggering an eviction, and being in the difficult position of trying to find somewhere affordable to rent in London.

Recent research by Shelter found that 1 in 33 renters had been a victim of retaliatory eviction, and a one in eight were so fearful of it that they did not ask for repairs to be done.

According London Renters, it is already easier to evict a tenant in the UK than it is in any other European country.  It is disgraceful that the government are thinking about making it even easier. And a report by Crisis has found that landlords ending private tenancies are now the main cause of homelessness and the number of evictions has been soaring since 2010. Instead of making it easier for landlords to evict tenants, we need secure tenancies to reduce homelessness and allow people to build lives in their communities without fear.

As part of a consultation on property conditions in the private rented sector, there has been a proposal to prevent landlords evicting tenants where they have complained about serious disrepairs. This is something we would support, however, this would still leave tenants at risk of eviction for things like being involved in private tenants groups or questioning a rent increase. There is also no guarantee that this proposal will be implemented.

Tenants also fear evictions for joining or being seen to be involved in private tenants groups or other housing campaigns, questioning rent increases or asking permission to make changes to their home or living arrangements like hanging pictures or keeping a pet. We consider that section 21 should be removed entirely, and private tenants should have the same rights and security as social tenants with secure tenancies.

See more at http://letdown.org.uk/

April 10, 2014  Tags: ,   Posted in: NEWS, PRIVATE TENANTS  Comments Closed

1000 Mothers March for Justice, 29th March

This Saturday, Haringey Housing Action Group will be joining the 1000 Mothers March for Justice.  Come along and speak out against the attacks on welfare.

We’ll be marching with families, carers & supporters
11am Saturday 29th March 2014
Assemble at Bruce Castle Park,
Lordship Lane N17 8NU
Move off 11.30 – march down Tottenham High Road to Tottenham Green East, N15 4UR for a

PUBLIC SPEAK-OUT

Follow up meeting; Haringey benefit claimants and supporters
11 am – 1 pm Saturday 12th April
North London Community House, 22 Moorefields Rd, N17 6PY

MOTHERS OF LONDON SAY:

MARCH TO DEMAND

living incomes and decent, affordable homes to rent or buy for waged & unwaged

MARCH TO REJECT

bedroom tax, housing benefit caps, unfair taxes, hunger and cold homes – austerity hurts vulnerable people, the rich get richer

The £500 overall benefit cap

forcing families to pay rent out of the income they need for food, utilities, clothes and transport or be evicted and deported away from their extended families and vital support to anywhere in England or Wales; cap rents not benefits.

The bedroom tax

hits disabled people who have one or two spare bedrooms. It also hits 50 to 60 year old adults who become unemployed and are expected to survive on £71.70 a week minus £24 pw bedroom tax and £5 pw council tax. People evicted are forced out of London – this is social and ethnic cleansing.

20% of the council tax has added to the misery of residents.

Last year Haringey Council started court proceedings against 23,000 households adding £125 court costs and in over 9000 cases bailiffs’ fees, which have already been increased by 42% this year.

Sanctions

imposed by jobcentres punish people for little or no reason leaving them penniless for up to three months.

Freezing increases in benefits at 1%a year

while prices escalate inflict hunger and cold on thousands of households.

Food banks as an alternative to social security

the three days food does not end hunger for adults or children. Supply food by right, not by charity.

The activities of ATOS

inflict poverty on disabled people with inappropriate fitness for work tests carelessly administered.

Barnet Alliance for Public Services, Day-Mer Turkish & Kurdish Community Organisation, UCU at CONEL, Global Women’s Strike, Haringey Alliance for Public Services, Haringey Defend Council Housing, Haringey Federation of Residents Associations, Haringey Green Party, Haringey Housing Action Group, Haringey Solidarity Group, Haringey Trades Council, Haringey UNISON, Holy Cross United Reformed Church, Unite the Union/Community, London Region National Pensioners Convention,
Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Socialist Women’s Union, Socialist Workers Party, Somerford Grove Community Centre, St. Paul’s C-of-E Tottenham, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Contact Taxpayersagainstpoverty@gmail.com

March 24, 2014  Tags: , ,   Posted in: LOCAL ACTIONS  Comments Closed

Advice Providers Network meeting 3/3/14

Ruth went to the meeting last week for HHAG. Here are brief notes from the meeting:

Haringey: council tax: letters going out. Asked about re-instating 100%  council tax benefit – decision for this year to stay the same & it was up to councilors. 517 outstanding new claims for housing benefit & council tax reduction. Discretionary Housing Payment ’14/’15 funding similar to ’13/’14 approx £2.5 millions. All spent this year on about 2,400 cases.

Bedroom tax -loophole cases 350 applicants, 200 looked at so far of which 35 rejected as non-continuous entitlement (17%).

Customer services: working with  AGILISIS to restructure – more on line access to accounts and services in 2015.

2,920 families in temporary accommodation – An increase in homelessness because of welfare changes and Private Rented Sector (PRS) evictons. Looking at 2 year tenancies in PRS. Criminalisation of rough sleepers – not being considered.

Homeless prevention fund- small grants to use to save evictions – e.g. pay arrears, pay for hoarding clearence etc. Denise Gaudi willing to visit group to explain.  has been to the private tenants group already

benefit cap- by 7.2.14 – 594 families being capped. 352 of which with children.

Coram childrens legal centre: Talk about legal aid cuts & assylum/immigration law for children.  They offer other  legal services where children involved too.

DWP Dee Sebunki: Haringey DWP officer.  Universal Credit – Sounds like DWP backing off on monthly payments so 2 weekly payments and payments direct to landlords will be possible – but will be special cases. Likely to be implemented in Haringey in 2017.

Working Tax Credit hours will still apply for benefit capping but hours may change. When going to review meetings can have some one with you e.g. a friend.

Haringey Migrant Support Centre – Carolina gave a talk, Mondays 1-4 pm at west green road – starting Enfield group look for a health advocate.

Future Meetings every quarter on Tuesdays. 1st week June next meeting.

Good Advice Haringey  - an umbrella group for advice services – Common referral system – training requested by groups -  on line HUB for people and organisations -  funded by HAVCO and lottery. Launch 3/4/2014 at 10.30 at 639 High Road, Tottenham.

March 11, 2014   Posted in: NEWS  Comments Closed

End Fuel Poverty – Shian Housing Association listen to your tenants!

This Monday, 27th January 2014, we had a small demonstration outside Shian Housing Association in Hackney.

We are demanding that they replace totally inefficient electric boilers with something that works well for a three bedroom property or a larger property.

One member of the Haringey Housing Action Group told the group that for the last three years she has been having to heat her home with the NIBE Fighter 360p electric boiler, installed by her landlords Shian. The boiler does not heat her home sufficiently, nor provide enough hot water, and yet her bills are running at about £5 or £10 a day. Her house is in a new building, and one would expect it to be efficient and cheaper to heat.

We looked at the boiler up on the internet and found out that many other complaints have been made about this boiler, and some housing associations have replaced them and compensated their tenants. We also talked to other families living in the block, and found they too had similar experiences. Meanwhile Shian are blaming the tenants’ use of the boiler!!

A number of the tenants have written to Shian to demand they take action. Meanwhile they are suffering yet another winter in a poorly heated home.

At the demonstration Shian refused to talk to us to explain how they would proceed with our member’s situation.  However, a member of their staff acknowledged that the problem of high heating bills was a problem made worse by the boiler. She said that previous communication shouldn’t have pointed the finger at tenants and their individual energy use.

This is only the start of our actions. We will keep up the pressure. Watch this space for news of our progress.

 

 

January 29, 2014  Tags: , ,   Posted in: NEWS  Comments Closed

Landlords Responsiblities

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/renting_and_leasehold/rights_and_responsibilities/landlords_responsibilities#6

If you are a tenant, your landlord has certain obligations. The rules and procedures vary depending on the type of tenancy you have but certain basic rules are always the same.

It’s important to remember that if you have a licence rather than a tenancy, you may not have all of these rights. Use our tenancy checker to check this and use our advice services directory to find an adviser in your area if you’re still not sure.

Landlord has a responsibility not to disturb tenants

Landlords may need access to the accommodation to inspect it and do repairs but they must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference. If you are a tenant then your landlord can’t come in whenever they feel like it, and should give proper notice and arrange a suitable time if they need to visit.

The amount of notice they have to give might be set out in your agreement. If you have a licence, your right to restrict your landlord from coming in is more limited, so get advice before you do anything.

You can ask your landlord to stop entering your home without your permission. It may be classed as harassment if the landlord persists. Read the rest of this post »

January 6, 2014   Posted in: INFORMATION, PRIVATE TENANTS  Comments Closed