Affordable Housing for All/Private tenants – meeting report

Bring Rents Down / Affordable Housing for All
Private tenants event: Follow-up meeting
Saturday 9th June – 11am
North London Community House, 22 Moorefield Road, N17
All welcome

Views of participants of the What Can Be Done discussions on May 26th – as reported (including the contributions to the discussion which then followed)

KEY FACT
- About 50,000 people in Haringey live in 20,000 private rented homes. [In 2007 the official Housing Needs Assessment stated that 21.8% of all homes in Haringey were occupied by private tenants in 2005].

GOALS
- Support and Empower Private Tenants
- Bring rents down to affordable levels
- Campaign for return/extention of controlled rents / maximum rent levels (system still in place with any tenancies dating continuously from 1988 still protected)
- Fight for greater rights for private tenants, eg secure tenancies
- Demand high levels of ‘affordable housing’ (ie genuinely affordable for all – social housing) in all new housing developments

EMPOWERING TENANTS
- Organise regular independent Private Tenants Forum open meetings
- Start a Private Tenants Organisation or Action Group

CAMPAIGNING/PUBLICITY
- Get lots of publicity (leaflets, press etc)
- Translate leaflets and rights guides, and add to the HHAG website
- Put lots of useful info on the HHAG website (eg rights guides, examples of resistance, history of housing struggles etc)
- Get Residents Associations involved in supporting their local private tenants
- Bear in mind that some people are ‘precarious’ and may need special support as they have few if any legal rights eg they are sub-letting / overcrowded, or are ‘illegal’ immigrants etc
- Publicise the Haringey Housing Action Group meetings (next 15th June)
- Lobby Lynne Featherstone MP (a Government minister)
- Lobby/picket Councillors and MPs
- Hold London-wide day of action?
- Lobby/pressurise the Government
- Consider rent strikes
- Get people together, develop momentum

RESISTING EVICTIONS
- Use a landlord’s failure to put deposits in an official government Deposit Scheme to get Section 21 eviction notices thrown out as invalid
- Develop local community solidarity whenever a tenant/family decide to fight an eviction / demand affordable rent
- Get the support of other tenants
- Get the support of campaign groups especially those interested in housing issues
- Enter negotiation over bringing the rents down

PRESSURE ON LANDLORDS/AGENTS
- Put pressure on / expose specific landlords and letting agents that may be particularly bad (eg Name & Shame / blacklist and boycotts), or are particularly ‘sympathetic’, or particularly vulnerable to pressure
- Organise protests outside agents/landlords offices and any secondary businesses they have
- Investigate and use/complain to the property ombudsman covering letting agencies and their professional bodies
- Check: www.allagents.co.uk for customer reviews on services by letting agents

THE COUNCIL
- Get the Council to use/invoke its powers over a landlord, eg
….. gas and general health and safety issues
….. the Council’s offer to landlords to get tenants’ rent paid direct to them if they lower their rent to LHA levels
….. the Housing Action Team’s duty to defend tenants from harassment and illegal evictions
- Lobby for improvements to the local Housing Strategy policies, including protective ones for private tenants
- Ensure any ‘discretionary payments’ are made available for tenants in dispute over HB/LHA cuts
- Ensure as many as possible of those made homeless are rehoused by the Council

ALTERNATIVES
- Support the occupation of empty homes / buildings. See the Advisory Service for Squatters website: http://www.squatter.org.uk
- Tenants can set up their own housing co-operatives

OTHER
- Support tenants objecting to Letting Agency charges etc

June 7, 2012  Tags: ,   Posted in: LOCAL CAMPAIGNS, NEWS