Tag Archives: policy

Winning!

Up against powerful vested interests and a government that supports (or shares) them, campaigning for a better housing system can often feel like fighting a losing battle. But not this week!

On Monday, the government quietly dropped its controversial ‘Pay to Stay’ plans to impose unaffordable market rents for social housing tenants on incomes above a stingy minimum. This policy was introduced earlier this year as part of the regressive Housing and Planning Act, which members of Radical Housing Network (RHN) joined with the Kill the Housing Bill campaign to organise against.

kensington-occupation march-march

We occupied a building in Kensington and helped build a march of thousands in protest against the Housing Bill

Then in yesterday’s budget, it was announced that letting agents will be banned from charging fees to tenants. Letting agent fees can often be £500 or more, making the already high costs of moving house impossible for renters to afford.

RHN members have for years have been calling for the law in the rest of the UK to be brought in line with Scotland, where this form of profiteering is already outlawed. As Hackney renters’ group, Digs, wrote yesterday:

“To be a renter is very often to feel totally powerless. But today’s announcement shows what can be achieved when communities get organised and turn up the heat on those who hold power.”

town-hall-group

F*ck fees! Digs’ action against letting agents’ fees, discrimination and other dodgy dealings in July 2013

These changes come hot on the heels of other local victories across London. Following concerted campaigning on the Aylesbury estate in south London, Southwark council have been prevented from evicting leaseholders after the government refused to grant compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to force them to leave. In west London, the local council recently refused a planning application by housing association Affinity Sutton which would have seen the Sutton estate demolished, resulting in a loss of social housing. And last week, RHN’s meeting was hosted by the inspiring campaigners on the Butterfield estate in Walthamstow, who shared how they have fought off evictions and attempts by their landlord to make huge rent rises.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go. Social housing is still under attack on many fronts, and millions are stuck renting sub-standard insecure and unaffordable homes from private landlords, while Southwark council are appealing against the decision to block their CPOs on the Aylesbury estate (you can donate to the residents’ crowd-funder to fight it here).

But this week shows that by organising together we can win victories that make real differences to people’s lives – and the bigger we can build our movement, the more we will win!

A Critical Analysis of Labour’s Rent Reforms

The post covers a host of links giving background to Labour’s Rent Reforms announced on the 1st May  in the lead up to the local elections soon and the general election next year. The general critique: “too little too late”, a half-hearted attempt to win some votes.

A Few Comments:
“The moves to ban letting agents fees being charged to tenants are welcome, but 3 years is still not a very long tenancy (London Renters have been demanding secure/lifelong tenancies which used to be the norm for council tenants), and the moves to limit rent increases are very weak (and won’t bring rents in much of the country down to anything like affordable levels).”///////
“We’re also a bit worried about the introduction of a 6 month ‘probationary period’ for tenants, which could potentially make us more insecure not less.”//////
“In my view, reforming private renting (if it happens and however partially) will be welcome, but only answers part of the problem. I thought the feeling at the RHN Weekender event on Sunday was very clear: private renters demand better conditions, but recognise the need for this to happen alongside investment in other forms of housing, particularly council housing. So far, I see little sign of the Labour Party having the political courage to challenge the home ownership orthodoxy and express the same pride in council housing as it does in the NHS.”/////

Background and Mainstream Media (MSM):

Labour Party Press: “Ed Miliband launches election campaign with rents pledge”
(The policy detail is hidden at the bottom of this document)

Owen Jones in The Guardian: “The foaming Tory response to Labour’s rental reforms stops any rational debate” (1 May 2014)

Inside Housing: “Miliband to announce Labour’s PRS plans today” (1 May 2014)
(comments worthwhile too; note: need to sign-in to access)

Thoughts/analysis from groups/ people involved in London Renters

Digs: “Labour’s rent proposal; too little, too late?” (1 May 2014)

Lambeth Renters:
“Labour talks of reforming renting” (2 May 2014)

Members of Southwark Tenants:

“Labour’s Rent Reforms” (A Handbook for City Renters)

“Rent Is Still Too Damn High – On Labour’s New Managed Rent Increases” (TMP, 1 May 2014)