Stop Tenant Evictions – Reduce Private Sector Rents – Protest 3rd August 2012

Haringey Housing Action Group protested today prior to a meeting with the Housing Advice & Options Team to demand more support for private tenants faced with eviction following cuts to Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance.

Here are some shots from the protest, report to follow.

LEAFLET TEXT or download at HAG Apex Hse Protest 3rd Aug
OR DOWNLOAD THE QUESTIONS we put to Haringey Council Housing Advice & Options Team in our meeting with them following the protest.

Private tenants all over London are being hit by government Housing Benefit cuts, high rents and insecure tenancies. With over 20,000 privately renting households in Haringey, this a key issue. Tenants affected by cuts to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) are facing eviction now. If landlords want to increase rents above LHA rates, tenants need support. With solidarity actions, we can all try and stop individual evictions.

But what is the Council doing to support private tenants? Haringey Council has funding to support people facing housing benefit cuts, including help with ‘renegotiating rents, finding affordable property and ensuring they get the support they are entitled to’.

However, we have seen little evidence of support so far. Instead, private tenants have been told they will get no help negotiating with landlords, because ‘landlords have a mortgage to pay’. They are told to look for properties in the local papers, but most local letting agents are now refusing to deal with people claiming housing benefits. They also face high rents and extortionate letting agent ‘fees’.

WE WANT:

  • Private sector rents to be reduced to LHA levels or below Birmingham council has negotiated reduced rates with letting agents and landlords covering 500+ properties. Haringey must do this too.
  • No evictions for tenants who cannot cover rent increases The council aims for ‘early intervention and the prevention of homelessness’, and so should do everything they can to support tenants threatened with eviction. The council should cover court costs for tenants facing eviction, and for those in ‘priority need’, re-house them before their eviction date.
  • Decent, genuinely affordable, secure housing for everyone The council must ensure landlords provide long term tenancies for all.

Fatima: I’m 25 yrs old and seeking somewhere to live since my previous
tenancy came to an end, and am currently staying on peo ple’s floors whilst
I look. Very few landlords and letting agents accept me as I receive
Housing Benefit and those that do have high rents which are not covered
by my HB. The council offers no support because I am not in priority need. I
don’t know where to go for help.

Patricia: I have three children and pregnant with a fourth and currently
going through an eviction process. My current landlord has not given any
reason and I would really like to stay. The council have stated that they will
only help me on the day of my eviction, which allows no time to sort out
childcare, household items, nor considers my pregnant situation. With a
family to care for, I need a longer term tenancy so I don’t have to move
every 6 months when a landlord chooses to put rents up or change tenants.

Mohammed: I live with my 3 yr old daughter in a room in a shared house
with 4 other strangers sharing kitchen and bathroom. I receive Housing
Benefit to cover my rent, but after the cuts, my rent is now more than my HB,
meaning I struggle to pay bills. The council said if I found a two bedroom flat
that I would be entitled to more HB, but I cannot find anything within the
maximum limit, and many have stopped accepting people on HB at all. I
cannot continue to pay the difference and I worry what will happen.

Tell us what you want the council to do for you

Do you have any suggestions for how the council can improve its service for private tenants? Let us know and we can take all suggestions to the Housing Advice Manager to see what she has to say.

Protest called by Haringey Housing Action Group

Haringey Housing Action Group meet regularly to give and receive support on housing problems and campaign for better housing. Our next meeting is Saturday 11th August 11am, North London Community House, Moorefield Road, behind Bruce Grove Station. All welcome.
0845 223 5270
housingaction@haringey.org.uk
www.haringeyhousingaction.org.uk

Demo Call out text:

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Housing Benefit cuts are starting to hit, and we are seeing the first set of evictions for tenants who can’t pay for rent increases from their benefits. With solidarity actions, we can all try and stop individual evictions, but what is the council doing to support tenants who don’t want to be forced to move?

Haringey Council runs one of 10 projects that were given £1.4 million to support people facing housing benefit cuts. But we have seen little evidence of support.  We have been told that the council will not help tenants negotiate with landlords to reduce rents – they didn’t see why they should, as landlords “have a mortgage to pay”.

Housing is a basic necessity, like food and water, yet many landlords appear to forget this and think they’re running a business like any other.  At recent council-run landlord forums, the council has done nothing to challenge this.

Where landlords raise rents above LHA levels, families in particular suffer, with less money to feed and clothe their children. If evicted, it will mean upheaval for the tenant and their family, the potential breaking up of community and family support, which can have a significant impact on a child’s health and education. And there will also be costs to the council, for giving advice and possibly housing for tenants in priority need.

We want:

  • private sector rents to be reduced to LHA levels or below – in Birmingham, the city council has negotiated reduced rates with letting agents and landlords responsible for more than 500 properties. Why won’t Haringey council do this?
  • no evictions for tenants who cannot cover rent increases
  • better support for private tenants in Haringey -  the council should cover court costs for tenants facing eviction, and should re-house tenants before their eviction date, avoiding unnecessary stress
  • decent, genuinely affordable, secure housing for everyone

Bring your own suggestions for what we can do to stop evictions and reduce rents, and for how the council can improve its service for private tenants. We will be taking all suggestions in to the head of housing advice and options to see what she has to say.

August 2, 2012  Tags: , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS