Housing for the 99%

Housing for the 99% was set up to discuss taking collective action to resolve housing problems for private tenants; here are the notes from the first meeting, some of the action ideas can be applied locally in Haringey.

Notes from Housing for the 99% meeting

13 May 2012

Background:
This meeting was called in response to individual private tenants’ frustration about high rents and poor quality insecure housing, and concern about the impact of welfare reforms on people’s access to housing.

 Two key areas for action came out of the initial discussion:

  1. The need to empower and support private tenants within the current system, which might include providing information about tenants rights and providing mutual support to to make sure they are respected, and resisting evictions due to benefit cuts.
  2. Pushing for a better housing system, recognising that the current one is deeply unjust.

The rest of the meeting focused on the second area, with three main themes for what needs to change:

    • Better regulation of landlords/rights for tenants – including security of tenure, quality of housing (e.g. repairs, health and safety, insulation) and arbitration to prevent retaliatory eviction or major rent increases when tenants demand improvements. This would have health benefits that could save public money in the long term.
    • Measures to reduce and/or limit rents – as still exists for long-standing tenants e.g. in Camden.
    • More public/council housing – which provides security, genuinely affordable rents, decent conditions and an accountable landlord.

Other issues raised included:

  • Challenging British cultural values – there’s nothing wrong with renting
  • People who don’t qualify for social housing often have problems finding accommodation in the private rented sector because many landlords don’t take Housing Benefit claimants and/or require large deposits.
  • Existing housing stock is poorly used – empty buildings
  • Letting/estate agents need to be better regulated
  • Need for myth-busting e.g. the idea that regulation will deter investment

Organising:

Camden Federation of Private Tenants hoping to secure funding for a London Private Tenants Forum and to support the set up of more local groups to support private tenants. However, still a role for a grassroots campaign alongside this.

Next steps:

Another meeting to discuss how to organise a private tenants’ campaign and what actions we might take, as well as more detail on what we want to change (and maybe a name!)

Anyone who wants to be involved in this is welcome to join – especially private tenants!

Action ideas (more are welcome – send them to housingforthe99@gmail.com):

  • Black list of bad landlords/landlord review site to name and shame
  • Get landlords to open up their accounts to see how much they’re making
  • Hold ‘rent rip-off’ awards to show what a bad deal people are getting
  • Occupy empty housing and call for it to be turned into council housing
  • Start taking about ‘Landlord Benefit’ (rather than Housing Benefit)
  • Target letting agents

May 16, 2012  Tags:   Posted in: NEWS