London Tenants Federation Summer Newsletter: Protecting the social housing we have and building more

Welcome to our Summer Newsletter

Things haven’t got any easier for social housing tenants, or for anyone in housing need, since our spring newsletter. Despite all, we hope you and your neighbours are well and finding ways to stay connected. 

The government’s shambolic and inadequate statements around protection for renters and funding for new ‘affordable’ rented housing have provided no comfort whatsoever to those already disproportionately affected by Covid19.

Frustratingly, it’s not that the resources aren’t available. In June, we published a briefing: ‘Who gets the most from the taxpayer when it comes to housing?’ Clue: It’s not social rented housing and those in need of it.

With many more people facing homelessness and job losses, now more than ever it is essential that we protect the social housing we have and prioritise available funding and resources for building more. This newsletter covers a number of ways we can help.

35,000 homes on London estates are earmarked for demolition

Estate Watch is a new online resource which aims to ensure those communities have more information about demolition and its alternatives. We had fantastic feedback when we launched the website with Just Space in June, from tenants and residents, journalists, academics and campaigners. 

The website summarises research led by Professor Loretta Lees, highlighting that around 131,000 tenants and leaseholders have been displaced by council estate demolition in London since 1997.

To mark the launch we held a Twitter Q&A with Loretta Lees in June and a Zoom meeting for residents of affected estates on 5th August.

Whilst it was a positive to see the Mayor introduce ballots for grant-funded demolition schemes in 2018, we have heard concerning accounts of how the policy is being implemented. A leaseholder on a Camden estate which has voted in favour of demolition described seeing council officers visiting residents in their homes while the ballot was taking place to ‘help’ them fill in the form.

“They were upfront that they were pushing for it to be knocked down,” said Luise. “There was nothing impartial about the consultation. They’ve been deliberately and continuously neglecting the estate. We were basically told that if we voted against demolition the estate would be run down even further.”

We can’t rely on councils, housing associations and their development partners to share the full picture of what demolition involves with tenants and residents before they go to ballot so it’s important we share that ourselves. Please help us spread the word about Estate Watch:

GOVERNMENT AND MAYORAL CONSULTATIONS

Planning for the future (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Consultation closes at 11:45pm on 29 October 2020

The government are consulting on potentially radical changes to the planning system. Proposals include scrapping Section 106 and a zoning system which sets out areas for ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protection’. Read more here.

We are very nervous about what this could mean; for social housing delivery, for liveability in poorer areas and for community involvement in the planning process. We will be in touch about opportunities to feed in to LTF’s discussions about this, and look forward to sharing with you our response to the consultation.

‘Priority housing for London’s covid heroes’ (Mayor of London)

Consultation closes on 11 October 2020

The Mayor is consulting on proposals to prioritise allocation of ‘intermediate housing’, eg. shared ownership and the ‘London Living Rent’, for ‘key workers’. Read more here.

As we know these tenures are unaffordable to many of the essential workers who have kept London running through the pandemic. We have shared our initial response to this announcement on Twitter and will keep you informed of our response to the consultation itself.

FIRE SAFETY

Phase 2 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been especially hard to listen to. We’ve found Pete Apps’ Grenfell Tower Inquiry Diary in Inside Housing particularly insightful reading.

The government has now published its draft Fire Safety Bill. We aim to hold a Zoom meeting about this for tenant and leaseholder representatives. We will keep you informed on when that is and how to book.

Do you live in a high rise tower block or know someone who does? 

FixMyBlock: A Tower Block Action Guide is a new publication that could help tower block residents track and report safety and maintenance issues in their buildings. It’s being trialled by Tower Blocks UK and mySociety and they are currently looking for comments from tenants and residents. 

NEWS, BLOGS AND EVENTS

Tenants excluded from London’s Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce 

In May, we raised our voice about the exclusion of tenant and community groups from the Deputy Mayor for Housing’s taskforce on housing provision post-Covid-19. The Task Force has since published it’s report and recommendations. Watch this space for our analysis.

In figures: Why the Mayor should scrap the London Affordable Rent
The London Affordable Rent is often referred to as social rent or very similar to social rent, but the 2018/19 benchmark London Affordable Rent for just a bedsit (£150) was £44/week higher than the average London council rent (£106 a week), covering all sizes of property. We took the matter up with the regulator of social housing, who confirmed that this is compliant with the expectations for an ‘affordable rent product’.

Can shared ownership be made better for Londoners, or is it fundamentally flawed?
In May, we responded to concerns around shared ownership, raised by Unmesh Desai, Chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee.

Book Review: Community-led Regeneration by Pablo Sendra and Daniel Fitzpatrick
LTF rep Pat Turnbull gave her thoughts on this new book; a free resource for communities and planners. You can find a copy of the book online here.
If you’re a social housing tenant or leaseholder and you’ve read anything on housing or planning that you’re interested in writing a book review for, we’d love to hear from you. Contact zoe-comms@londontenants.org

Want some help getting on social media?

We periodically hold social media training for our members and social housing tenant and resident representatives. If there is demand, we will hold another training session via Zoom (a free online conference call service) in the autumn. If this interests you, get in touch with zoe-comms@londontenants.org

PUBLICATIONS 

Tenants’ Guide: The Mayor of London’s Powers 

The Mayor of London has wide-ranging strategic powers over housing, regeneration and large-scale developments. Intended for tenant, resident and community groups in the capital, this Guide sets out what those powers are and how they impact on us locally, so that we are better able to influence decision-making. Council and housing association tenant participation officers who are seeking to connect tenants and residents groups to opportunities to engage in wider debates about housing and planning may also find this useful. If you have a tenant participation officer, why not send them the link?

The London Tenants Guide to ‘Genuinely Affordable Housing’ 2020 

This is an updated version of the 2019 guide and includes the latest figures on London Affordable Rent for 2020/21.

Case studies 

We can’t easily get out and explore different parts of London at the moment, but there’s still virtual guided tours. We visited the Holland Rise estate in Lambeth and the New Kingshold Estate in Hackney, both filmed before lockdown.

Holland Rise and Whitebeam Close Tenant Management Organisation
Cindy and Pauline, a volunteer and Board Member of the TMO, take us on a tour of the estate’s well equipped community centre and beautiful shared gardens; a fantastic example of the possibilities and benefits of tenant management.

Victoria Community Association (The TRA for the New Kingshold Estate)
When Hackney’s New Kingshold Estate was demolished and rebuilt in the 1990s, what was formerly a council estate was split between four different landlords. Pat Turnbull, LTF rep and Chair of the estate’s tenants and residents association (TRA) explains how and why the community fought to retain one joint TRA for the whole estate.

Do you have any photos or videos giving a picture of your estate and community? We’d love to see them. Email zoe-comms@londontenants.org 

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS

Could you be the next Chair of the London Housing Panel?

The London Housing Panel is looking for an independent Chair to provide leadership to the Panel as they work on housing policy issues facing London. Application deadline: Monday 17 August 2020, 5pm. More details here. 

Housing management and tenant involvement

Inside Housing held their ‘Digitial Housing Week’ in June and Andy Bates from Leathermarket JMB, an LTF rep for the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations (NFTMO) gave a presentation at the workshop on financial hardship in relation to Covid19. You can find slides from his presentation here.

We’re looking forward to speaking on how we get landlords to better listen to tenants at the Inside Housing Consumer Experience conference in October. We’ll report back on that too it

Highlights from Twitter, Facebook and Youtube

  • The Setchell TRA in Southwark have kept us learning with a series on Facebook about the history behind the estate’s architecture

  • Leathermarket JMB have kept spirits up in their community and on Twitter, by sharing stories of their good work 

  • The Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team held a webinar in July about sustainability in social housing, including a presentation from Anne Power on ‘the case for retrofit’. The full presentation has been uploaded to Youtube.

  • The Estate Watch launch received huge engagement and high praise from Guardian journalist Aditya Chakrabortty who described it as a ‘Brilliant resource’.

London Tenants is a company ltd by guarantee, reg in England/Wales No 08155382

Our registered company address is:
82A Godwin Court, Crowndale Rd, London, NW1 1NW

Telephone
07931 214913

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