Victory for Haringey council tenants – and a grim warning

Haringey Council’s Cabinet last night (14 October) agreed that future Haringey Council tenants will continue to be offered permanent (lifetime) tenancies.Last year, members of Haringey Housing Action Group joined up with Haringey Defend Council Housing, to oppose the introduction of five-year, “flexible”, tenancies for new council tenants.  The council’s own consultation questionnaire was overly long and confusingly worded.  Instead, we canvassed opinions outside local schools and the council’s own Customer Service Centres on two key issues – flexible tenancies and “affordable” rents.  Almost everyone we spoke to was against the five year tenancies and the introduction of new rents set at 80% of market rents (an “affordable rent”).

Below is a statement from Haringey Defend Council Housing on the council’s new proposed tenancy strategy which will now go out for consultation:

This is a tremendous victory for tenants who have bitterly opposed proposals by Cllr Alan Strickland (Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration) for new council tenancies of five years only, with options for renewal, but without any appeals procedure.It is also a victory for those Councillors who have blocked and criticised Cllr Strickland’s plans.  They know who they are. Thanks are due to everybody who spoke out, and helped to secure this decision.

However, the Tenancy Strategy which the Cabinet will consider this evening fails to protect future Housing Association tenants, who will be offered “flexible” five-year tenancies at up to double the council rent.  We need permanent tenancies, to promote social equality,  inclusion, local integration, and family security.  But not just for council tenants; it is unacceptable that this security and real affordablilty should be denied to future housing association tenants.   This is a recipe for poverty and social exclusion.Instead, the Tenancy Strategy should require local housing associations to award permanent tenancies, as the council will continue to do, at the same Target Rents (35%-40% of market rents), which the council uses.

The Council’s failure to defend the rights of future housing association tenants  is a warning to people on the many council estates that Haringey plans to demolish and replace with housing association developments  (Love Lane,  Turner Avenue, Helston Court/Braemar Road, Larkspur Close, Park Grove/Durnsford Road, Tunnel Gardens; more than 1,000 homes at Northumberland Park, etc.) It is also a warning to those estates set for transfer (by sale or gift) to housing associations (such as Imperial Wharf and Noel Park).

The Tenancy Strategy document warns tenants of a grim future, under the Council’s housing demolition and gentrification plans.

Instead, we need more and better council housing.  Last night’s decision to continue to issue new permanent tenancies, albeit to council tenants only, shows us that we can win.

Cllr Strickland should now resign.  He promoted five-year tenancies as a keynote policy. He has failed to convince either tenants or his Labour Group colleagues of the case for ending permanent dwelling rights for council tenants, and his present proposals are divisive, and neglectful of the rights of future housing association tenants.

More from: Paul Burnham, Secretary (Haringey Defend Council Housing). Tel. 07847 714 158

October 15, 2014  Tags: , ,   Posted in: LOCAL CAMPAIGNS, NEWS