Haringey housing company accused of “profiting from poverty”


12th June 2012

Haringey residents today gathered outside the offices of Smart Housing Group on Tottenham Lane to protest against the company’s attempts to encourage London councils to move homeless residents out of the city, calling on passers-by to contact the company and demand that they withdraw their plans.

Leaflets accusing the company of “profiting from poverty” were handed out to shoppers, parents and workers early this morning outlining the company’s proposals, and calling at the same time for the lowering of rents and the provision of more social housing. Many of those receiving the leaflets were vocally supportive of the protest.

The protest was organised by members of the Haringey Solidarity Group and the Haringey Housing Action Group, who also held a banner reading ‘HOMES FOR ALL’ in front of the office.

A proposal made to Westminster Council by Smart Housing Group in April suggested rehousing “150 people within the next 12 or so months” to towns as far away from London as Derby and Nottingham, “and ideally with an option for Smart Housing Group to increase this number over time to perhaps closer to 500 properties.” [1]

Under these plans, Smart Housing Group would buy properties outside London, and then charge London councils wanting to move people out of the city.

This is being justified as a way to reduce the housing benefit bill and the amount spent on emergency homeless provision. In reality the housing benefit bill is so high because there are no controls on the amount landlords can charge for accommodation that is often of poor quality.

Protesters argue that the real problem is “out of control landlords.” Martin Wood from the Haringey Solidarity Group said: “We are calling on the residents of Haringey to speak up against companies and landlords who exploit everyone’s basic need for housing. ”

Staff at the office vehemently denied the protestors’ accusations, despite the company’s General Operations Manager having previously been quoted by the BBC as saying that Smart Housing Group is in the early stages of negotiations with three London authorities. [2]

Protestors are hoping that enough bad publicity and public opposition will prevent the plans from progressing at all.

Smart Housing Group’s plans for homeless families represent part of a wider housing crisis for ordinary people, with recent studies suggesting that if current trends continue, renting is increasingly to become a “way of life” for young single people and families alike. [3]


[1] ‘London Tory councils consider moving claimants to Midlands’, The Guardian, 24th April 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/24/tory-westminster-council-tenants-derby

[2] ‘Moving London homeless to East Midlands ‘appalling idea’, BBC News, 25th April 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17837363; ‘Smart staff’, http://www.smarthousinggroup.com/staff.htm

[3] ‘Renting to be ‘way of life’ for young UK families’, The Guardian, 9th June 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jun/09/renting-price-rise-young-families


Protesters fight for fairer rents

Haringey Independent report – Tuesday 12th June 2012 – By Hermione Wright

Campaigners fighting for fairer rents protested outside a housing group in Crouch End this morning.

Members of Haringey Solidarity Group and the Haringey Housing Action Group stood outside Smart Housing Group in Tottenham Lane from 8.30am to 9.30am to spread the word about bringing cheaper rents to the borough.

Martin Wood, who is part of Haringey Solidarity Group, said: “We are saying the problem is rents are too high and landlords are getting away with charging extortionate rents at the moment, which the Government is doing nothing about it.”

Mr Wood is concerned companies, including Smart Housing Group, are encouraging tenants to move to other parts of the UK as housing benefits struggle to pay for high London rents.

He said: “We talk about community and the Tory Government talk about the big society, but this is breaking up the communities that are there.”

“I am in rented accommodation myself and I have a child in Haringey, if I had to uproot and move somewhere miles away, I wouldn’t be near friends or family and my kid would have to move schools.”

He said part of their mission is to make people aware that they should not have to stand for such high rent prices, and people are working to make positive changes.

He added: “A lot of people are quite isolated and are thinking the same thing but don’t think well ‘what can we do about it?’ If people think well at least some people are doing something about it, it makes them think they are not alone.”

The Smart Housing Group did not wish to comment about this morning’s protest.

June 12, 2012  Tags: ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS, NEWS