Tag Archives: Localism Act

Camden council – stop the cycle of homelessness and poverty


We blogged urgently earlier this month when one of our members was given a days notice by Camden council to view and accept private rented accommodation. Camden council were using their new powers given to them in the Localism Act to force homeless households to accept an offer of private rented accommodation. If they refuse this offer, the council can end their homeless duty and evict them from their current temporary accommodation. The council will also remove them from the social housing waiting list.

We are deeply concerned at Camden council’s policy and treatment of homeless households. Why are Camden council forcing homeless households to accept private rented accommodation – or else face street homelessness – when the private rented sector is one of the biggest causes of homelessness? Homeless households must be allowed to wait for secure social housing if they wish.

We demand that Camden council urgently review their homelessness policy and housing allocations policy:

  • Camden council must not force homeless households into the private rented sector. If a private rented offer is made, the uptake of this offer should be voluntary not mandatory. No one should face homelessness for refusing a private rented sector offer.
  • If a private rented sector offer is accepted, the council should allow them to remain on the waiting list for secure social housing. Homeless households, people in housing need, and those who have faced homelessness must be able to access secure, social housing.
  • Whether homeless households remain in temporary accommodation or voluntarily accept a private rented offer, these two groups must have high priority on the housing waiting list because of their high housing need.

Our member

Our member and her daughter were left in a hostel for over a year by Camden council, having to use shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. As soon as we raised concerns about this, they were provided with self-contained temporary accommodation. However, shortly after this, the council have now forced the family to accept a private rented offer.

We had another member who was also kept in a hostel by Camden council for over a year, and then after we challenged this, she was moved into private rented accommodation.

We are concerned that the council are happy to neglect people in hostel accommodation for years and when challenged, force them to accept a private rented offer. It certainly feels like a punishment for raising unsuitable hostel accommodation. After enduring unsuitable hostel accommodation, clearly these households need quality, secure social housing.

We sent a Freedom of Information request to Camden council to find out their policy on forcing homeless households into private rented accommodation. The FOI shows that in the last year the council conducted 112 suitability assessments, and have subsequently discharged their duty with a private rented offer to 25 households. So far, the number of households forced into the private rented sector is relatively small, although of course, the impacts on these families will be huge. That our member, who challenged her unsuitable hostel accommodation, was selected for a private sector discharge, does look targeted.

Overcrowding and insecurity

Our member is already worried about what moving into this private rented accommodation means in terms of insecurity. “How long will I be able to live there for? What happens after 2 years?” She asked us. Of course, with private rented accommodation, we can’t answer, because it is all in the hands of the private landlord (although any private rented offer given by the council through the Localism Act must be for a minimum of 12months) and whether she is able to cover what could be an ever increasing rent.

The accommodation is also a one bedroom flat so housing officers suggested that her 15 year old daughter could put a bed in the living room. This is totally unacceptable. Good quality housing means people have living space and private space. Living spaces should not double up as bedrooms.

Camden council must support homeless people and meet our demands above rather than their current project of cutting their housing waiting list.

Camden council, don’t force a homeless family into the private rented sector

Don’t let Camden council get away with this, tweet them your views @camdentalking

We’re very concerned about Camden council’s treatment of our member and her daughter. Today (2nd November) they were sent a letter informing them that their homeless duty is being ended because the council have found them a private rented tenancy. They must view this property tomorrow afternoon.

Firstly, we know that private rented accommodation is the biggest cause of homelessness, therefore it is unsuitable accommodation for homeless families to be housed in. They should be allowed to wait until they can access the secure council housing they need.

Secondly, Camden council have given only one days notice of this viewing (it is not clear whether they must move in tomorrow as well), when the family have work and school commitments. The family are Spanish speakers, but the letter was written in English, so they have not been able to fully understand the important information in the letter which warns them that the council is ending its duty. It is only through the help of HASL that they have understood the main message of the letter.

Private rented accommodation is highly unsuitable for the family who have experienced homelessness a number of times in the lives already. For a year Camden council housed them in hostel accommodation with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. The family desperately need secure, quality council housing so that they can get on with their lives without the threat of homelessness and deeper poverty that the private rented sector causes.

The council also inform then that they will no longer be on the council’s waiting list for social housing and that if they re-apply, it is likely they will not qualify to join this list.

We are calling on Camden council to allow the family to remain in their current temporary accommodation which the family are satisfied with and to continue bidding for council housing. We believe no one should be forced into private rented accommodation and we are disappointed that Camden council are using their new powers in the Localism Act to do this.

In HASL, many of our members are homeless or faced with homelessness and we have been paying close attention to local councils and how they are using their new powers in the Localism Act which enable them to force homeless families into private rented accommodation. You can read more about the situation and your rights here. We’ll be taking action together to resist councils forcing us into insecure, unsuitable, expensive private rented accommodation. Everyone needs and deserves quality, secure council housing – homeless households and others in housing need desperately need this and councils should be doing everything they can to guarantee them this. Get involved in your local housing action group to make this happen.

We are hugely disappointed that Camden council is not supporting their homeless residents by ensuring they get the council housing they need. Instead they are forcing vulnerable people into unsuitable housing whilst cutting back the social housing waiting list at the same time.