Caring, Collaborative, Community-focused…Cruel, Conniving, Contemptuous

Haringey recently spent money redesigning their website to boast about how much they care for our community. Yet our members are constantly being faced with the opposite of every value they claim to uphold. N’s story is just the latest example.

Screenshot of text from Haringey Council's website titled 'the haringey deal'. The text says

Our commitments

Haringey Deal - Doing things together logoWhen the Haringey Deal was launched in November 2022, the council outlined a series of commitments:

    developing a better understanding of our residents and what matters most to them
    building stronger relationships with residents
    learning when mistakes are made and fixing them quickly
    empowering communities to lead their own change
    finding new ways to share power with residents and communities

We’ve introduced a new set of organisational values to capture the change that the council is going through:


After a long battle, our member N finally won a court order at the start of July for Haringey to move her family into suitable housing. But nearly 2 months later, she’s still waiting.

When a judge finds in your favour, you think something’s finally going to be done, but Haringey’s showing me that they’re above all law. It’s affected me in every way, mentally, physically, emotionally. I’m a shell of myself. Even when I’m not speaking about it I’m constantly thinking about it, I can’t shut my brain off, it’s on my mind 24/7. It’s like I’m trying and failing, it seems like there’s no break, it’s never-ending. When is it going to be enough? They’re not listening to our cries, but even when I run to a judge, we’re still here.

I feel like I’m being racially profiled. If my skin colour was different I don’t feel like I’d be treated like this. The way Haringey treat Black people is just disgusting. Even when my house was infested with roaches I got ignored, even with my kids’ disabilites we aren’t taken seriously. Everything for me gets delayed, and when it does get looked at, it gets sabotaged. Even when I’m trying to look out for the interests of my kids and safeguard them, they make it out as if I’m a bad parent and threaten me with Social Services. But when I’m calling Social Services myself and asking them to help us, I get ignored by them too.’

Haringey might be acting in contempt of court now, but they’ve been treating N with contempt for many years before. Here are just a few snapshots from her story.

10 times Haringey treated N with contempt in the past decade

  • Ten years ago, when N was a private tenant, she went to Haringey for help with a rat infestation. She had two young children and a six-month-old baby. Instead of helping her, they called Social Services.
  • When she first approached Haringey as homeless, eight years ago, they denied any knowledge that she’d already been on the housing register for 7 years before that. She had to start all over again.
  • When she got the eviction notice from her private landlord, Haringey forced her to wait for the bailiffs before they would do anything to help. She and her kids had to drag all their belongings to the council office to find out where they were going that night.
  • At N’s first temporary accommodation, she asked to be moved because a racist neighbour was calling her kids ‘monkeys’, but Haringey ignored her. N then lost her job because she couldn’t travel 1.5 hours each way and get back in time for the school run.
  • At N’s second temporary accommodation, there was raw sewage dripping from a pipe outside her door, and mould that turned the walls black. Haringey’s own officer later admitted the property was unfit to live in, but she and her kids were left there for 3 months.
  • At N’s third temporary accommodation, the house was infested with roaches and rats. N’s young disabled children would put roaches in their mouths if her back was turned for a split second. She reported it immediately, but Haringey left them like this for 16 months.
  • At N’s fourth temporary accommodation, she had to watch her disabled children 24/7 to stop them falling two stories from the unsecured French windows. Her neighbour bullied her to the point where she stopped using the living room for fear of more noise complaints. Haringey left her there for 5 years.
  • After ignoring N’s complaints for 5 years, Haringey eventually agreed to move her again…but this time, they discharged her into the private sector and ended their homeless duties. This meant she was kicked off the waiting list for council housing, again.
  • Haringey ignored N when she tried to tell them their private sector discharge offer wasn’t safe for her children. Instead, they treated her like SHE was the safety concern for not wanting to move there, and threatened her with Social Services again.
  • Haringey’s pressure forced N to accept their accommodation offer even though her teenage son was being threatened. The following summer, he was beaten up so badly that the nerves of half his face were left permanently damaged.

Last autumn, N joined our group and we supported her to make another homelessness application. When Haringey accepted this, we hoped things might get better for N and her family soon. But this was just the start of the story.

10 times Haringey treated N with contempt in the past year

  • At first, Haringey sent an email saying they were treating the case as if she’d never been discharged. Then they recalled that message, and said they were treating it as a fresh case instead. This meant N lost the chance to backdate her housing register bidding to the point when she first became homeless in 2015.
  • N repeatedly asked Haringey for a banding review so that she could bid in the most urgent band on the housing register while waiting for suitable temporary accommodation to come up. Despite her follow-up complaints, they didn’t even acknowledge this request for 5 months.
  • In March this year, Haringey eventually did a banding review…but they incorrectly assessed N’s case as if she was still living in her previous accommodation, not the current one.
  • Nine months since she first requested it, Haringey STILL haven’t finished doing a banding review based on N’s actual living situation. She could have been bidding in the highest band all this time, but Haringey have denied her the chance.
  • Haringey accepted a full homelessness duty to N last November because her accommodation was unsafe to stay in, but since then, they’ve left the family in the same place for 9 months and counting.
  • They ignored letters from HHAG, and ignored letters from N’s lawyer, until she began a judicial review and made a successful urgent application for interim relief.
  • When she took them to court, Haringey tried to discredit N to the judge, downplayed her son’s trauma, and gave false information about whether she’d contacted the police.
  • The judge saw through this and gave them 3 weeks to move N’s family somewhere safe and suitable. Instead, Haringey tried to offer N the SAME place she was currently living in, with the only change that it was now reclassified as temporary accommodation.
  • They tried to justify this by claiming the attack on her son was a ‘one-off’, even though he can only stay safe if he never leaves the house alone. The first time Haringey ignored N’s warnings, her son was violently assaulted, but now they’re dismissing N’s safety concerns again.
  • A month after the judge’s 3-week deadline had passed, Haringey finally offered N other temporary accommodation… which would be 1.5 hours’ travel from her child’s SEN school and her family support networks. Their own suitability policy says it’s a top priority not to disrupt disabled childrens’ education. But the ‘suitability’ section of the letter was just a couple of lines long and didn’t even mention any of these issues.

N’s expectations were already low, but she still wasn’t prepared for the phone call she got from a Haringey Council officer last week. The officer called her up out of nowhere with no appointment, going behind her lawyer’s back, and tried to guilt-trip and bully her into giving up on her legal case.

10 times Haringey treated N with contempt in one phone call

  • The council officer said her expectations were ‘too high’ because she wants a safe outdoor space for her disabled children, even though she has an Occupational Therapist report and an EHCP which confirms they need this.
  • N was living in Haringey when she made the application, has spent most of her life in the borough and her support networks are all close at hand, yet he interrogated her about why she didn’t approach another council for her homeless case.
  • He said she should move to one of the neighbouring boroughs, Enfield or Waltham Forest … but when N said she was willing to do so if Haringey offers a property there, he moved the goalposts and started pushing her to move outside London instead.
  • He asked about her income, then treated her as if she was being ridiculous for hoping to find accommodation anywhere in London.
  • He acted like she should have done more to find a property herself, even though Haringey have had 9 months and still failed to find somewhere suitable.
  • He said that if she thinks that’s unfair, she should go and ask the government for more funding.
  • He lectured her about how she ‘keeps refusing properties’. But when N pointed out that she’d only refused one unsuitable offer, he claimed he couldn’t comment because it’s ‘not his department’ and quickly changed the subject.
  • He claimed he was worried about her children suffering in unsuitable accommodation…as a result of staying in the same accommodation which Haringey had previously tried to claim was perfectly suitable.
  • He said she should use Homeswapper to get rehoused, which is only available to permanent council tenants.
  • When N tried to explain how his behaviour was making her feel, he scolded her for being ungrateful. He lectured her about how he’d got a degree from a top university and could have made a fortune in business, but chose to work in public service to ‘help’ people.

Two months since the court order, and nine months since N was re-accepted as homeless,  there’s still been no help. Last week, Haringey asked N again for medical documents which were already supplied nine months ago. Every time they’re supposed to do something, they come up with another way to delay.

Nothing can take away the impact of these years of contempt, but Haringey still has the chance to make it right going forward. We’re supporting our member N in her fight to make Haringey recognise their mistakes. 

The judge let Haringey have 3 weeks to find accommodation, despite the threat of violence against N’s oldest son, because the court recognised that her disabled younger children can’t be placed in any random property that comes up. Before N took Haringey to court, they’d already wasted half a year failing to find somewhere suitable. Even after the judge allowed them extra time, they still wasted another two months.

The family needs to be near their SEN school. They need to be near N’s family who help her with essential childcare and respite. They need to be in a safe, quiet place which doesn’t trigger the children’s noise sensitivity or put them at risk due to their lack of danger awareness.

And they need somewhere N can finally call a home, where her children can safely enjoy their childhood at last and where she can feel at peace.

It’s not good enough just to use the word ‘suitable’ in their offer letters, they need to mean it. N needs Haringey to find accommodation that’s truly suitable for the whole family.

August 28, 2023  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

All I Want For Christmas Is A Safe Clean Home

Rehouse X Now! ‘The condition of this house is impossible. The first word that comes to mind is misery’.

For nearly 2 years, our member X has been telling Homes for Haringey that her temporary accommodation was unbearable. The council themselves have finally agreed that her living conditions are unsuitable, yet she and her family are still waiting to be rehoused.

On Monday 14th December, we’re asking you to join us in telling Homes for Haringey that she should be moved to suitable temporary accommodation before Christmas.

Between 9am and 5pm on Monday, please tweet @homes4haringey using the hashtags #AllIWantForChristmasIsASafeCleanHome or #ChristmasJoyNotChristmasFear.

Here’s one sample tweet, but please feel free to make up your own.

‘When will you rehouse @HaringeyHousing’s member X, @homes4haringey? Her children need #ChristmasJoyNotChristmasFear’

If you would like to include a photo of yourself with a sign supporting our member, please do!

Read on to learn more about X’s story (contains a photo of rats)

Read the rest of this post »

December 12, 2020  Tags: , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

“It affects everything”. Rehouse H now!

Our member H is facing eviction. She approached the council as soon as she got the first notice, over six months ago, but she and her children are still no closer to being rehoused. H is now counting down the days until the bailiffs knock on the door, but she still doesn’t know where her family will be going.Photo of two hands holding up a placard, drawn in black on red card. There's a drawing of a house full of boxes, with people lifting boxes above their heads. Next to this is a drawing two adults and three children, all with boxes hovering above their heads. At the top it says 'Rehouse The Family In Suitable Accommodation, Support The Homeless'.

I have been living there for 10 ½ years. The children are asking me where they are going and I don’t have any answer. They got the news that we have to leave a long time ago, so they keep asking ‘where, where’.

It’s affecting their education. Sometimes we feel like we’re going next week, it’s confusing and takes our minds away. I can’t concentrate to help them with their homework. They’re having trouble sleeping because they’re so worried. They can’t do the right thing at school because they can’t concentrate. If we got a place it would help them with their education, especially the one doing exams.

For me too, I’m studying, and the housing issue is affecting me so that I can’t concentrate. I get sleepless. When you’re losing where you live, when you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tomorrow, it affects everything. It’s affecting my education.

We have been in that place where there is damp everywhere, I’ve already been in that bad situation for a long time, which was affecting my health. Even before the landlord decided to sell, we wanted to leave, and now it’s even worse. Because we are moving, the landlord won’t do the repairs. I can’t wait to leave that place.

 I don’t want to go through the same experiences as other people in the group. I can’t go through anything more. Sometimes I feel vulnerable with my health conditions,  and the stress of the housing situation is making it worse. Having a suitable home will release the stress and give me and the children good health.

Waiting for a long time is not a good experience. Is it going to be here? Is it going to be there? You don’t know.

I need Haringey Council to support me and my children by giving me housing before the eviction date.’

Read the rest of this post »

February 20, 2019  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

More empty promises, more rights ignored

‘How long can we go on and how long will the Council continue to treat people like next to nothing?’

 Since we posted the last article, we’ve met another member who has also been waiting since last summer for a final decision on her homelessness case. E is in private rented accommodation, G is waiting in a council-run hostel, but Haringey Council have left both families stuck in the same overcrowded conditions.

This is G’s story:

“I’m a single mum with a 1yrs old daughter, living in a hostel provided by the Haringey Council. My daughter and I have been living in this hostel since July 2018, sharing bathroom and cooking facilities, and until today we still haven’t heard anything from the Council. I have written to them, made complaints but nothings being done.

I have never asked for help and have not claimed benefit, I’ve always worked since the age of 17yrs old, paid my own way and rent. I’m in a temporary situation, had requested for help from the council and once I’m back on my feet, I can find my way and sort myself out. Unfortunately, I find myself in a worst situation than what I had started with, the Council have put me in a hostel for the past 7 months and I haven’t heard from them, feel like I’ve been forgotten by the Council.

I had a case worker who had looked into my case and agreed verbally that I was priority need and advised the Council had an obligation to find my daughter and I a place to stay. He advised I will get an approval letter by post which I never did, called him and emailed but had no response.

In October 2018, I got in contact with my local MP for help as I was advised he could be of help. He got in contact with the Council to see what was happening with my case and to give them 10 working days for response. A week later I spoke to someone at the Council only to be told ‘my previous case worker had left and I have been given a new case worker ‘. An interview was arranged, all the required demanded documentations were given again but yet I’m being asked constantly to resend them, she hadn’t looked at my case but yet she had already decided that I had made myself homeless, no thought to why I had left even though a clear reason had been given, she demanded proof but as I didn’t have it I was looked at as a disgrace.

It was a horrible experience to sit in front of someone who was supposed to help but yet I was looked at as a waste of space and another single mother requesting for assistance she cannot have. I got in contact again with our local MP to advise of the experience and the mistreatment I experienced but I was told to look past it and wait for a response from my new case worker. If not even your local MP can help control the way Haringey Council mistreats people, then who can?

Its hurtful to be treated this way by the Council, especially as someone who has never requested for help before. I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve contributed to the society and yet the day I need help from my local Council is the day I’m looked down on and treated like crap.

How long can we go on and how long will the Council continue to treat people like next to nothing?

February 14, 2019  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

Empty promises, rights ignored

Our member E and her teenage child are living in one overcrowded room with shared facilities.

Even if you have somewhere to live, you may be legally homeless if your living conditions are so bad that you cannot be expected to stay there. E first approached the council in April 2018 and asked them to open a homelessness case. In August last year they finally agreed that E was homeless, but six months later they still haven’t rehoused her. They haven’t even given her a decision letter to confirm that they will do this.

E has just sent this letter to her caseworker. Will Haringey Council finally take action?

‘Since you have been dealing with my case, you have been delaying and ignoring my lawyer and I on many occasions. I believe Haringey Council have the capacity to provide a good service to their residents.
I have been patient and respected your duty as my Housing in Need Officer.I always respond to any question you ask me.You and your colleague visited where my daughter and I currently reside and you said it was unreasonable for us to live in that condition.
As a Housing in Need Officer, what action did you take? Did you discuss my case with your senior team or your manager?
Our living condition is getting worse. An apology will not help if something happens.
Just to let you know, I am a responsible women, I am working and volunteering in Haringey. I wouldn’t like anyone to discriminate me any longer.How would you feel if you are: preparing food, hanging laundry, and living with a full time educated teenager in one room in a shared facilities house?
As a result of ignoring me, I have been endlessly seeking for advice everywhere; exposing my private life to everyone.I have already sent you pictures of my living conditions.For health and safety, is it lawful for the house to be rebuilt whilst people are living in the house?
I hope this time you will not turn down my decision letter because this situation is affecting my daughter’s education.’

January 25, 2019  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

Old law, new law, same old story

Approaching the council has become a menace to my life. Old law, new law, none of them is favourable to me. Instead of the council helping, they’ve just been dodgy, not sincere in their comments. It makes it difficult for me and my family.  Now they say that I’m top of the list, but without any communication, without getting anything, I still don’t know how they want to help. The council should look into my case and do justice to it.’ – H

Our member H has been struggling all year to make Haringey Council take on her homelessness case. She told them in February that she and her children could not bear to go on living any longer in their overcrowded accommodation. But, 5 months later, H is still waiting for the council to offer her any concrete assistance. H’s children are starting their school holidays in the same overcrowded flat– when the new term starts, will they be going home to a suitable home at last?

Handmade black and white print depicting a house with 'Share Home' written on it and a hand with 'Home' written on it.H had to fight even to get a housing appointment. After chasing her caseworker for months, she finally discovered that they had closed her case, then opened a fresh case under the new Homelessness Reduction Act. They claimed that H had ‘failed to communicate’ because she, allegedly, did not receive one voice message. Yet the council never even informed H that they were closing her case. She only found out months later, after she insisted on seeing her caseworker face-to-face.

H’s caseworker has even acknowledged that H’s current accommodation is ‘unreasonable to occupy’. This is the legal definition of homelessness! Yet the council seem happy to keep H and her children waiting in their ‘unreasonable’ accommodation with no end in sight.

Over the past months, H’s case has been mishandled so often that it’s hard to summarise, but here are some of the highlights:

Read the rest of this post »

July 23, 2018  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

Property licensing: who benefits?

Haringey Council say that ‘good quality housing is a basic right of every resident’. They say they’ve found a solution which will make life better for everyone, tenants and landlords alike – property licensing. However, our member S has had a very different experience. As the council consult on whether they should expand their licensing scheme, S’s story raises questions about how a scheme like this really benefits tenants. Who is it for? Who has the power? And will it ever help S to get what she needs?

When S first came to our meeting, she told us about the conditions in which she and her child were being forced to live. After becoming homeless, they were placed in a flat in Haringey as temporary accommodation, but quickly discovered that it was riddled with problems. The walls were constantly damp and mouldy. The property was also extremely cold, dark, invaded by rats, and smelled bad. By chance, HHAG had already met the previous tenant, who had received an offer of alternative accommodation while we were still struggling to make the landlord improve conditions. As soon as S mentioned her address, we knew that we were dealing with a property which had some major unresolved issues.

picture of the mould on a wall

mould on S’s wall

When S told us that Property Licensing were inspecting the flat, we hoped that this could be the start of some real progress. S lives in an area of Tottenham where the council already operate a licensing scheme: this covers all ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’. When they grant a licence, the council can order works to be carried out to improve the standards of the property.

Yet, more than a year since the first inspection took place, S’s living situation still hasn’t improved. Since the licence was granted, the landlord has made some small repairs and amendments. But adding a couple of vents hasn’t fixed the damp, and bleach won’t do anything to address the cause of the mould. Over the past year, they’ve bleached the wall twice, but mould is already growing back again. S’s child, who has asthma, is still living in conditions that put her health at risk.

‘They’re prioritising the landlord and the building rather than the humans who live in it.’

The problems with the house go much deeper than the licensing scheme seems willing to address. To maximise profits, the landlord has crammed four flats into one small terraced house, leaving the tenants in poky rooms with no adequate ventilation or natural light. Yet S is the one who’s been criticised for failing to air it properly (although there’s one window in her entire flat), or to heat it adequately (though the walls don’t retain heat even with the heating turned up to maximum). Read the rest of this post »

February 20, 2018  Tags: , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

Join our protest, 10 Oct: Haringey Council, rehouse Z now!

Still waiting for Homes4Haringey - sign on railingJoin us in Wood Green on Tuesday to support our member Z, and to challenge Haringey Council’s callous treatment of tenants facing eviction.

Protest Tuesday 10 October, 12.30pm
outside Haringey’s housing office – 48 Station Road, London N22 7TY. (1 minute walk from Wood Green tube.)

Z and her family have been facing harassment from her landlord for months. He has physically threatened the family and tried to deprive them of heating. He enters the house unannounced, so Z can never feel safe at home.

The landlord has made it clear that he’s doing this because he is too impatient to wait until the end of the legal eviction process. There is no way for Z to stop the eviction – the landlord has already secured the legal right to the property. Yet Haringey Council* insist that she must stay there until the bailiffs come, even though she’s in danger. Read the rest of this post »

October 8, 2017  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

The waiting game: six weeks struggling against gatekeeping

Our member L, a mother of four, is due to be evicted this Monday, 3rd July. She first approached Haringey Council more than five weeks ago, but they have only just confirmed that they will provide emergency housing for Monday night.

Like most councils, Haringey is known for diverting people away from making a homeless application, to reduce homeless figures and meet central government targets. This is often called ‘gatekeeping’. One tactic they use is to tell people who are being evicted to stay in the property until the bailiffs arrive. This goes against even the government’s own official guidance. But the council keeps people waiting until the last possible minute, hoping that tenants will find alternative accommodation.

Moving house is difficult in any circumstances, but Haringey Council have made the situation far worse for L and her family. She has spent so much time and energy over the last month, fighting to get even this far, and she still does not know where she will be sleeping on Monday.

I’m less stressed than I was, but still stressed. If we didn’t go to the council all these times, they might have left me to wait until after the eviction on Monday. At least now I know they will have something for me. But if they’d seen me last week, maybe now I would already know where I will go.

It’s important to know your rights. It’s easy to be discouraged, and that’s what they want, but don’t give up. And it’s very very important to have someone with you. Alone, I think I would still be waiting to hear anything.’ Read the rest of this post »

June 30, 2017  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS  Comments Closed

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  Comments Closed