Letting agents and the Localism Act

Four women from Haringey Housing Action Group on the steps beside a sign for Grangeview Estates

HHAG members delivering our letter to Grangeview Estates

After going through the stress of becoming homeless, everyone ought to end up somewhere safe and secure. However, Haringey Council forced our member A into a private tenancy where she has spent months struggling to get repairs done, living in conditions that are affecting her children’s health.

Until a few years ago, eligible homeless people who had been accepted as ‘priority need’ were able to stay in temporary accommodation until permanent social housing became available. However, in 2011 the Localism Act was passed, allowing councils to place people in private tenancies instead. This means that homeless families could easily become homeless again if the landlord decides to evict them. The law says that the accommodation should at least be ‘suitable’ – but this was certainly not the case for A.

Haringey Council accepted a duty to house A and her two young children after their eviction, but decided to place A in a private tenancy with Grangeview Estates. She was given no choice but to accept this. She soon discovered, though, that her new flat was in a worrying state of disrepair. Problems included:

-         No hot water for washing

-         Inadequate heating

-         Leaking ceiling and toilet floor

-         No ventilation

-         Damp, mould and rotting woodwork

-         Insect infestation

The letting agent did not respond when A reported her concerns, so she asked the council for help. She was told that repairs would be carried out within 21 days. This was in September. Since then, they have done nothing except paint over the mould.

When A joined our group, we delivered a letter to Grangeview Estates asking for the repairs to be done immediately. We asked them to reply within three working days, but two weeks later, A has still heard nothing. When we spoke to them, the agents claimed they had already done all the repairs needed, but they haven’t even responded to A’s request for a list of works done.

Over the past three months, A has also repeatedly tried to contact Haringey’s environmental health team. Last week, they finally carried out an inspection of the flat and have said they may issue a formal improvement notice if the agents do not act within 14 days. However, it would take months for this to be enforced.

A has already been waiting for months. She writes:

According to my personal opinion, I cannot live in this poor condition of my property which isn’t being repaired for a long time and just advised to “Wait”.  Due to the poor condition of my property it is impacting on my children’s health.  They are suffering from certain health problems such as eczema(worse), asthma and not adequately heating etc. Social worker, health visitor, school nurse and GP provided the suitable evidence to the council but unfortunately it’s pointless, because I don’t know why I have to be wait for a long time to get this repair done.  Why council been neglecting and no take any further action?  Agents are also ignoring to get the repairs done. I don’t know why they give such a bad condition of these properties to the council when tenant aren’t satisfied with the agents behaviour. However, this property isn’t suitable for us. I am personally not satisfied how they are treating me.

Grangeview Estates assure their commercial customers that they will be ‘safe in Grangeview’s hands’. We believe that people placed with them by the council are just as entitled to safe and suitable accommodation. Grangeview must commit to carrying out the repairs, or move A to a different property.

December 19, 2016  Tags: , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS, PRIVATE TENANTS