Over 50 HASL members joined our noise protest outside Southwark town hall at the start of this month in support of Milton’s family and all families living in overcrowded housing. As well as families coming from Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, some of our members traveled from their temporary accommodation out in Croydon. Other members joined us from Haringey and Hackney. You can watch some videos on our twitter here.
Our noise protest lasted over 2 hours making sure that the council could not ignore us and resulting in the housing manager coming down to speak with the families.He promised Milton’s family that they would receive a decision on their case by the following week. Unfortunately, this deadline has not been met. We have been keeping the pressure up on twitter and we might have to return with even more people and even more noise.
Milton’s family has faced extreme bullying from the council over the last 3 years. The family of 4 have been living in a tiny studio flat for four and a half years after this was the only property they could find after facing discrimination by private landlords and unaffordable local rents. Due to the serious level of overcrowding, the family should qualify for band 1 which would allow them to be quickly re-housed into suitable social housing. Instead of supporting the family, the council wrongly accused the family of committing fraud over an innocent admin error, threatened them with criminal prosecution for causing overcrowding and have insisted that the family’s overcrowding is a ‘deliberate act’. The family have been repeatedly asked by the council why they need to live in Southwark.
Along with Public Interest Law Cetnre we are also supporting a number of other HASL members who live in severely overcrowded housing to be treated fairly and respectfully and to claim their rightful position on the housing waiting list.
Thank you to everyone who joined who helped make it such a strong and powerful protest! We all know that no one chooses to live in overcrowded housing, hopefully Southwark council will finally get the message!
Join HASL and PILC’s email protest here calling on Southwark council to stop penalising families living in overcrowded housing.
Southwark council have been telling families in some of the most severely overcrowded housing in the borough that their overcrowding was a ‘deliberate act’ by the families. These cruel decisions deny these families band 1 on the housing register which would allow them the urgent move into the permanent, more spacious council housing they need.
As well as punishing these families by refusing them the urgent re-housing they need, due to their apparent ‘deliberate act’, these decisions are also offensive, harmful and deeply distressing.
On Thursday 10th December, a HASL family’s case against Southwark council’s decision that they deliberately caused their overcrowding will be heard in the Court of Appeal. A summary by the family’s barrister Ed Fitzpatrick on the original High Court case in May this year can be heard on the HLPA podcast at 9 minutes 50 seconds and there is a blog post here.
This is an important case for many severely overcrowded families in Southwark, as it challenges the council’s widespread use of the phrase “deliberate act” to blame families for their overcrowding and which leaves families stuck in completely inadequate housing for years. A positive outcome in the Court of Appeal could mean that other severely overcrowded families would also benefit if Southwark council’s use of “deliberate act” is more limited. This is just the most recent action in an almost five year campaign by HASL families protesting against the ‘deliberate act’ policy where we have occupied the Town Hall, spoken out at a cabinet meeting, canvassed canvassing councillors, submitted an open letter with over 30 community groups and provided practical support and help with challenging these decisions.
What happened in Favio and Elba’s case?
Over 6 years ago, Favio and Elba and their two young sons moved into a 1 bedroom private flat in Southwark. They had been looking for a suitable flat and this was the only landlord who would rent to them and where the rent was affordable with housing benefit. As everyone knows, finding suitable housing in the private rented sector is extremely difficult – if you have children, claim benefits and do not speak English as your first language, like in Favio’s case, it can be an impossible task.
Local authorities with paid staff, time and resources, including ludicrous landlord ‘incentives’, often struggle to find suitable housing with more and more families being housed in temporary accommodation that is overcrowded or far away from their community. It’s not surprising that families searching by themselves have no choice but to rent housing that is overcrowded and often has other problems of damp and disrepair.
When the boys were younger, the level of overcrowding was uncomfortable but just about manageable. But as their sons grew up, the cramped living conditions have become more and more difficult. When their oldest son turned 10 years old, the family met the high threshold of ‘statutory’ overcrowding. With the help of HASL, they were able to join the housing waiting list but Southwark council decided that the overcrowding was a ‘deliberate act’ and refused to award the family band 1 for their statutory overcrowding.
Instead of awarding band 1 for being statutory overcrowded, the family were given band 3 which is for households who are ‘overcrowded’ which also includes families living in mild, non-statutorily overcrowded housing. Here the waiting times for social housing is longer and this banding does not reflect the severely overcrowded circumstances that the family are living in.
Southwark council’s reason for refusing band 1 was that the family’s overcrowded housing was a ‘deliberate act’ by the family, because the overcrowding was not caused by a “natural increase”.
This may seem confusing, because surely overcrowding being caused by children getting older is exactly what “natural increase” is. What Southwark meant was: the overcrowding was the family’s own fault, because the one-bedroom flat would eventually have become statutorily overcrowded and that Favio and Elba must have known that it would eventually become statutorily overcrowded (even though Favio and Elba did not even know about the social housing waiting list, let alone the details of all the rules or what ‘statutory overcrowding’ means).
The legal challenge
Favio and Elba’s lawyers took Southwark to the High Court in May. This type of case is called ‘judicial review’ and these types of cases are very difficult. You cannot simply say that you don’t like the council’s decision, or that you think that the decision is wrong. Instead, you have to show that the council has acted unlawfully.
Judges are generally very reluctant to find that councils have acted unlawfully in council housing allocations cases even if most people would think the council are wrong. Court judgments in earlier legal challenges have established that judges are required to give councils a lot of freedom in deciding and applying their housing waiting list rules.
In order to work out who should win the case, the High Court judge had to decide what the word “deliberate” meant in Southwark’s policy.
The judge in May this year ruled in the council’s favour and agreed with the Council’s argument. He decided that the word “deliberate” could include cases like Favio’s, even though Favio’s family had not done anything wrong, and even though they did not even know that the council housing waiting list existed when the “deliberate act” took place.
The decision also has supported a bizarre and worryingly broad definition of the phrase “deliberate act” that Southwark have come up with, which means statutorily overcrowded families have to wait very different times for social housing depending on if they happen to meet very arbitrary criteria. Strangely, the High Court decision said that “deliberate act” does not require any intent by the family to actually cause their overcrowding in a deliberate attempt to get higher priority. And actually the only way to obtain band 1 overcrowding priority is to become statutorily overcrowded by giving birth to more children while living at the property. This created a strange distinction which means having more children is not “deliberate”, but renting accommodation that will become statutorily overcrowded in the future through children growing up is “deliberate”.
In Favio and Elba’s case, the council’s decision that their severe overcrowding is a ‘deliberate act’ by the family is insulting, cruel, and simply and obviously wrong – we hope that it will also be found unlawful and that this could help other families in similar situations. We have seen many similar decisions and the devastating impacts that these decisions have on some of the most overcrowded families in our borough.
Getting to this stage has not been easy for the family. They have worked tirelessly on their case trying to prove to Southwark council that they did not choose to live in overcrowded housing and they have been navigating what is a complicated legal process.
It is disappointing that Southwark council are willing to go to such extreme lengths, using public money and resources to deny severely overcrowded families the help that they need. Southwark council claim that they are committed to helping people to fight against the housing crisis. But they have very publicly shown their commitment to these punitive rules.
Favio explains: “We want to rent a two-bedroom apartment but it is very expensive and the agencies ask you for many documents, and they ask us what you work for, how much you earn, how many hours you work. If you have benefits we cannot rent you. Why so much inequality?…And there are people who take advantage of us, there are private agents and they take £500 commissions. It’s not fair. Everyone has the right to have a normal life.
When they get home my children do not have a place to do their homework, I have a small table, they both start to discuss, and I have to tell them one to do at the table and the other in bed, so the fight starts and my son says: I want a room and a place where I can do my homework. I understand their anger that he is 14 years old and they need their space … at night when they went to bed to sleep, they sleep together in a bed because there is no space at all sides.
We are very anxious, nervous and very worried about the decision [The Court of Appeal] they will make. We are only waiting for a flat with 2 bedrooms so that my family is stable. When the children grow up it is more complicated, they need more space.”
His partner Elba explains: “The council have treated us a bit badly, all the decisions they have sent us have been negative. Since Covid 19, the situation for families in overcrowded housing has been very bad.
During the lockdown, the children have been studying at home online, we have been doing our best, we have made a small space for each son to study. It has been very difficult for children to study. I hope there will be a change because coronavirus has made things very bad. Now we are waiting for what we hope will be a positive outcome for us and that it will help and support other families as well.”
Their eldest son aged 14 explained: “With the small flat we would try to be outside more but with virus, we are in 2 little rooms. My brother is always cheeky every time when I do my homework. Especially when I had virtual lessons, there’s not enough space for me to concentrate, my brother is playing with toys and it disrupts me when I’m doing my lessons.
I have allergies which give me watery eyes, my nose gets itchy, and I’m asthmatic mostly when I’m at home, when I’m outside, it calms down. We’ve mostly been at home because of the virus and my allergies have got worse for me especially.
We hoped we would have a house for Christmas last year, then I hoped maybe for my birthday, so many times we have had our hopes up but it never happened.
I feel like it’s too long for us to be living in one room, we never had experience of having 2 or 3 rooms, of having my own room.
[What would he say to Southwark council?] Most of them live in their own rooms, so try to think about others, how do they feel.”
A judge has granted permission for a HASL member’s case to be heard in the High Court. Our member, whose family live in overcrowded housing, is challenging Lewisham council’s decision refusing them access to the housing register because they have not lived in the borough for 5 years.
We are a family of 5 people, I have 2 sons aged 14 and 16 and a 7 year old daughter. We live in a small 2 bedroom flat. My 2 sons sleep in one room and my husband and I occupy in the other room with our daughter. This situation is very uncomfortable because we have very little space. That is why we requested to join Lewisham’s housing waiting list but they rejected us 2 times for not living in the borough for 5 years. We feel very upset by this situation and we feel that it is very unfair and oppressive. We are challenging this decision and we hope it will also help other families as well. Thank you to HASL for your help and your guidance.
Overcrowding is one of the biggest housing problems our members face and an issue we have been supporting each other with and campaigning on together for years. High private rents, benefit cuts, widespread discrimination by private landlords and a desperate shortage of council homes mean that families are forced to rent smaller flats than they need. Even before Covid 19, these living conditions had serious impacts on families mental and physical health. With lockdowns confining people to their homes the situation for overcrowded families has been even more unbearable. Overcrowding itself is a serious public health issue.
The obvious solution to overcrowding is 3, 4, 5 bed high quality, safe, secure council homes. So why is Lewisham council’s response to overcrowding to increase the local connection criteria to make it more difficult for overcrowded families to join the housing register?
We believe that it is blatantly unfair to apply a strict residence criteria to families suffering with a housing need. They are forcing overcrowded families to endure these living conditions for 5 years before they can even join the housing register for the chance to access more spacious social housing. It’s not acceptable for children to spend over 5 years of their childhood in overcrowded housing and for this to be the council’s policy.
In HASL, we see the discriminatory impact this has particularly on migrant families who are less likely to have accumulated this time in the borough – many migrant families face additional difficulties and discrimination when trying to find housing in the private rented sector meaning that they are more likely to end up having to live in overcrowded conditions. Often, they may have had already moved homes several times trying to improve their housing conditions making it harder to build up time in a particular borough.
It should not take legal action for Lewisham council to support their residents living in overcrowded housing and we hope they will urgently review their decision to apply the 5 year residence criteria to people with a housing need. Alongside the legal challenge, we’ll continue our campaigning in support of overcrowded families and for the 3, 4, 5 bed council homes we all need and deserve.
How you can help!
Please share our blog and tweets to Lewisham council in support of overcrowded families and feel free to write your own tweets.
Lewisham council recently announced that they will be reviewing their housing allocations policy and will undertake a consultation exercise with local residents and stakeholders. If you’re a Lewisham resident, please think about engaging in this consultation – in HASL, we’ll be discussing how we want to respond to this consultation and we’ll be publishing our ideas and guidance about responding to this consultation soon.
Almost everyone accepts there is a housing crisis and that the root causes are the unregulated private rented sector, benefit cuts, low wages, and lack of social housing. There is huge support for social housing as one of the main solutions.
But Southwark council have taken a new approach to the housing crisis. They are blaming overcrowding on families themselves.
Recently, 5 families, living in overcrowded housing in the private rented sector, have received decisions telling them that they have deliberately caused their overcrowding. They have been put in band 4 at the bottom of the housing list where they have no chance of social housing. This is a big change in policy for Southwark council. Previously overcrowded families would be placed into band 3 and depending on the level of overcrowding, they may qualify for a priority star for statutory overcrowding. Some families may qualify for band 1. Now these families are being denied any priority for overcrowding and statutory overcrowding, a serious and severe level of overcrowding.
So what is going on?
These decisions are wrong, immoral and, we think, unlawful. They are hurtful and devastating for our members who receive them. How can Southwark council justify making these decisions against their own residents? Why are they blaming and targeting the victims of the housing crisis?
Many of these families are migrant families who already face significant discrimination and barriers to accessing decent housing. Why are Southwark council introducing new anti-migrant, discriminatory policies into their housing register?
The council must immediately change these decisions and give our members the priority they are entitled to.
We also feel our members are being targeted. We made a Freedom of Information request asking how many households had been placed into band 4 for ‘worsening circumstances’. In the last 12 months, there have been ‘less than 10’. However, in the last few months, 4 of our members have been put into band 4.
Our members are stuck in appalling conditions in overcrowded private rented housing because they have no other option, they could not rent anywhere else. They have been discriminated against by private landlords who won’t rent to them because they are claim benefits, because they do not speak English, and for having children.
Now they are discriminated against by Southwark council who tell them the overcrowding is their own fault.
“Further to a successful legal challenge by the Public Interest Law Unit (PILU) and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL), it has become apparent that Southwark Council have been incorrectly applying the ‘space standard’ test for statutory overcrowding as contained in s.326 of the Housing Act 1985.
Had Southwark applied the law correctly, it would have been recognised that the family in question were living in statutorily overcrowded conditions, and that in accordance with their allocation scheme they should have been placed in Band 1 and given an additional ‘Priority Star’ to reflect that status.
The evidence provided by HASL and as a result of a Freedom of Information Request suggests that the error in fact forms part of a wider unlawful practice.
Since December 2017, HASL have come across five cases where households have reported to Southwark that they are overcrowded according to the space standard for the number of people in the property and the number of rooms, that in each of these cases Southwark has proceeded to measure the size of the rooms and that in only one of the cases has the household been placed in Band 1 on Southwark’s allocation scheme.
The Council’s response to a Freedom of Information request showed that since February 2018, 46 banding decision had been made which had involved assessing whether a household was statutorily overcrowded, all of these cases had been assessed with reference to the space standard set out in s326 Housing Act 1985, and all had been assessed solely with reference to floor area as opposed to the number of rooms. 13 of those cases had been found not to be statutorily overcrowded.
Southwark Council have now admitted that the test for statutory overcrowding had been incorrectly applied the case in question, and while the Council have been reviewing previous decisions made on this basis, it is unclear whether everybody affected will notified and awarded the additional priority that they are entitled to.
Helen Mowatt, solicitor from PILU said:
Southwark Council has formally adopted the measure of overcrowding contained in Part 10 of the Housing Act 1985 within its allocation scheme and is required to properly apply this when allocating social housing. A failure to do so is a breach of the Housing Act and amounts to an unlawful failure to follow a published policy.
Southwark have been erroneously applying the space standard contained in s326(3) Housing Act 1985, by assessing overcrowding solely with reference to floor area and not also with reference to the number of rooms, as required.
The error in our client’s case is material. Had Southwark correctly applied the space standard, his household would have been deemed statutorily overcrowded months ago, they would have been placed in Band 1 of the allocation scheme and awarded an additional priority star.
This was also not an isolated error on the part of the Council. The evidence we have obtained from HASL and as a result of our Freedom of Information Request shows that Southwark have been consistently misapplying the law in every case. It is therefore likely that many households have wrongly been assessed as not being statutorily overcrowded and placed in the incorrect housing Band.
We know that there may have been as many as 13 cases since February 2018 which must now be reviewed, but we are unclear as to how many households may have been affected before this date. We will be seeking assurances from the Council that they will review all relevant cases, but if anyone thinks they may have been affected, please contact HASL and/or seek legal advice.
Elizabeth Wyatt from HASL has said:
Overcrowded housing in the private rented sector, but also in Southwark’s own council housing, is one of the main problems we come across in our group and is one of the more invisible sides of the housing crisis. We know many families forced to live in single rooms, studio flats and one bed flats because of discrimination and extortionate rents in the private rented sector. We know first hand the devastating impact that overcrowded housing has on people’s lives particularly their mental and physical health. We have been raising the problem of overcrowding with Southwark council for years but the council have failed to engage and take meaningful action.
Southwark council should be supporting their residents to access their housing rights and the secure council homes they need, instead it took a legal challenge before the council would accept that it had been wrongly denying that our families were statutorily overcrowded. Together with PILU, we will be making sure that the council goes back to review all previous decisions and applies the law correctly for all future cases.
Southwark residents and all Londoners desperately need good quality, secure, 3, 4, 5 bed council homes in our communities. We welcome anyone struggling or worried about housing problems to get involved in our group to support each other and take collective action for good housing for everyone.” [ENDS]
No more overcrowded housing – we need family council homes now!
Our member Ruben and his family have been living in overcrowded private rented housing for 5 years. Today marks the 5th anniversary of when he first joined the housing register hoping to access secure and spacious council housing in their local community. But 5 years on and they are still waiting for the council home they need and deserve while Lambeth ignore vital medical evidence about his son’s health.
Ruben has submitted medical evidence to the council about his son’s health condition. This evidence shows that the overcrowded living conditions are making his son’s health worse. But Lambeth are ignoring this important evidence. They have also failed to respond to his complaint at the handling of his case.
This morning we visited Lambeth’s new Civic Centre to show our support for Ruben and his family and to demand that the council recognise the medical evidence they have submitted. Many of the families who joined us are also suffering from poor housing conditions and our protest highlighted the need for secure council housing for everyone.
The presence of our large group, big banners and chanting meant that a senior housing officer came to speak with us about Ruben’s case. Ruben spoke very powerfully about the impact of the overcrowding on his son. The housing officer has promised to review their case so we are waiting on their response. We made our message clear:
Lambeth council must accept this vital medical evidence which should see the family placed in band B.
We shared cake marking the 5th anniversary of Ruben’s time on the housing register – as well as HASL’s 5th birthday! We also spoke with lots of interested and supportive passersby.
We know many other families are facing long and unacceptable waits for the council homes they need. We know that overcrowded and poor quality housing has huge and damaging affects on our lives, our health and our communities.
Like all Londoners, we are devastated by the Grenfell tower tragedy. Our thoughts and solidarity are with everyone affected.
A totally preventable and political tragedy happened because the local council did not listen to the concerns of some of their most vulnerable residents and the council did not bother to check that the housing they have a responsibility for met the highest safety standards.
Listening to the residents of Grenfell tower explain how the council had ignored and neglected them and treated them with disrespect and contempt resonated a lot with some of our experiences when trying to raise very serious housing concerns. Many concerns were raised by Grenfell residents who are migrants and people who do not have English as a first language but they felt the response to them was: “you are a guest in this borough, and a guest in this country, you have no right to complain”.
In HASL we have often had our concerns ignored by the council or have been treated as an annoyance when we raise serious issues we are facing related to homelessness and unsuitable, unsafe and overcrowded housing conditions. In light of what has happened at Grenfell, where people raised concerns and were ignored, we do feel an added urgency and fear of what might happen if we are not listened to and people’s rights and needs are respected. Local councils must engage and respond to their residents.
One case in particular has deeply affected our group because of the seriousness of the housing conditions, the impact we can see them having on our members and the council’s appalling response. In our group, 4 migrant families living in appalling, inhumane and overcrowded conditions have highlighted this to the council for over an entire year. Not only have we been ignored but the council has blamed the families for their housing conditions saying they caused the overcrowding by a ‘deliberate act’. One of the council’s reasons for this was that the families should have found suitable housing for themselves on zoopla.com.
The families have highlighted how their housing is impacting on their children’s wellbeing. Babies who are learning to walk do not have adequate space. The families have explained that there was no way they would have caused these overcrowded conditions deliberately – an incredibly degrading thing to have to do. Overcrowded housing is unsafe housing. Victim blaming is not an acceptable response.It should not take a tragedy for local councils and government to listen to people affected by unsafe and bad housing.
We are calling on Southwark council and the councillor for housing Stephanie Cryan to engage meaningfully with these families, give them the help they are entitled to and talk with us about how we can support overcrowded families in the borough and other concerns that homeless and vulnerably housed people face. You can read and sign our petition here.
As a group of homeless and badly housed people in HASL and the London Coalition Against Poverty, we organise in solidarity with each other and fight together for housing justice. Supporting each other, we do make progress on our cases and situations that we know we could not have done alone, but the council still has a long way to go to provide adequate housing assistance and respect to their residents. If you are worried about unsafe, insecure, and bad housing in our communities, we invite you to get involved. We hope we can respond to calls from the Grenfell Tower community for support and solidarity.
This morning, HASL and our friends from Espacio Mama and English for Action visited Southwark council’s town hall in support of 5 families who face statutory overcrowding and have been subjected to long delays by Southwark council in getting the help they need. As Southwark council’s housing allocations policy states, these families should qualify for band 1 due to the serious and appalling nature of their living conditions. However, the council have insultingly responded that the families have caused the statutory overcrowding by a ‘deliberate act’. We know this is not true and it is an insult to even suggest this. It is basic common sense that these families have not endured years of severely overcrowded housing deliberately.
We demand that Southwark council follow its clear housing allocations policy and ensure these families are placed into band 1 immediately, the banding that reflects their severe housing need.
At the town hall, we bumped into the manager for homeless services Ian Swift on his way in to work, but instead of engaging with the group, he rushed past us, and instructed security to call the police on us!
Thankfully, the security staff decided this was not necessary and we were able to remain in the town hall and were not thrown out into the cold!
Two members from the press office came to speak with us about why we were there. We explained the 5 cases and the two members of staff agreed with us on a number of occasions that it was obvious that the overcrowded situations were not caused by a ‘deliberate act’ of the families. They promised that the cases would be looked into by Housing Director Gerri Scott and that we will hear from them soon. Let’s hope that we get some good news soon, and if not, we’ll be returning!
More information on the cases
As well as failing to follow their housing allocations policy in the spirit with which it was intended, and failing to acknowledge the acute housing crisis as the cause for overcrowding rather than the ‘choice’ of these families, we have also experienced long and unnecessary delays in getting the assistance from the council that we need. We have repeatedly provided the necessary information to process their cases. These delays and problems include:
One member first submitted information on her case on 23 May. She did not get a response for 3 months, and only then, because we contacted the council to chase up the case.
We first emailed Ian Swift about these five cases on 25th July detailing the statutory overcrowding and how they had all tried to access the housing register and had faced a number of problems doing so.
August we received a response finally saying that no applications are open for anyone and no documents have been received (even though 2 had receipts of having accounts). The group had actually visited the housing office and one stop shop on 25 July to submit information and documents, which had obviously not been processed.
HASL met with Ian Swift and a number of housing officers on September 14 where we requested to be told the information they needed in order to review these cases quickly, but they refused to tell us what further information was needed. We were promised that the cases would be independently reviewed within 10 days. 10 working days later and we had heard nothing. After a reminder, the person who had originally looked at the cases returned the reviews to us on October 10.
Accessing the housing register has been an extremely difficult process to follow and understand, particularly for non-English speakers as many of our members are.
In total, we have spent a great deal of our time over many months emailing Ian Swift and his officers, collecting together all the required information, to resolve these cases. Some might say we have been doing their job for them! These serious cases should not be taking months to resolve.
The families have highlighted the incredibly serious consequences of the appalling conditions they face:
Children and young people without space to study and play.
Children experiencing depression and mental ill health due to the overcrowded conditions.
Poor conditions, including the ceiling falling through in the kitchen, and the landlord renting out another room to an abusive person who threatened our member. The children are too scared to enter the kitchen after seeing the ceiling fall in.
Highly unsuitable shared accommodation for families with young children.
Once these cases are resolved, and the families are placed in their correct band 1, we will be happy to work with the council and in particular the housing office, so that the problems we have faced here and not encountered again.
Our member A and her family have been living in poor quality and severely overcrowded private rented accommodation. Like many other households in London and across the UK facing rising rents and low incomes, this is often the only accommodation they can afford. Overcrowding, particularly in the private rented sector, is an issue that many HASL members are faced with and we will be raising this issue, organising around it, and taking more action on this issue in future.
In A’s case, the overcrowding is so bad that it meets the legal definition of statutory overcrowding – a definition that is unhelpful because it fails to capture many overcrowded households and conditions as the threshold is so high. A’s household meeting this definition shows the serious nature of this overcrowding.
Southwark’s housing allocations policy rightly gives people in such housing need high priority on the housing waiting list so that they can access secure, social housing quickly.
Our member A attempted to inform the council of her housing condition to get her correct place on the housing waiting list back in May this year and was told she would hear back from Southwark council in 2 weeks time. Yet almost three months later she still hasn’t heard anything and their housing situation has got even worse. If they had responded to her request, the family could have secured the safe, social housing they desperately need.
The other week, the ceiling in the kitchen fell through. You can see from the photos that this was an incredibly dangerous incident. A’s young children are too scared to enter the kitchen for fear that more will fall in. The kitchen is largely unusable. The landlord isn’t interested in doing the vital repairs and threatened eviction when A called about the incident.
A reported the conditions to Southwark’s environmental health team who visited and said they would try to get the landlord to do the repairs. The landlord has made it clear that they are not interested in this.
Why are Southwark council not taking stronger action to protect these vulnerable tenants and take harsher action against this exploitative and neglectful landlord?
Southwark council must take urgent action to ensure that A and her family are given their correct place – band 1 – on the housing register, which should have been done back in May. Their delay and neglect has meant that the family have been forced to endure unacceptable and worsening conditions for longer.
Why not send the councillor for housing@steviecryan a tweet or two about this case demanding A be given her band 1 position and safe housing now?
Together, we’ll hold Southwark council to account for their inaction and neglect of vulnerable tenants and fight for the secure, social housing in our communities that we all need.