Today it has been revealed that, due to the chronic shortage of housing, the most impoverished and underprivileged tenants from the London Borough of Newham are being forced to move over 160 miles away to Stoke-on-Trent.
Newham council has written to over 1,000 housing associations to try and find accommodation, including the Brighter Futures Housing Association in Stoke, requesting them to ‘lease’ homes to 500 families; stating
“As we begin to witness an overheating of the private rented sector within Newham, with the onset of the Olympic Games and the buoyant young professionals market, the gap between Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and market rents is beginning to widen.”
View Newham Councils letter to Stoke’s Brighter Futures Housing Association in full HERE.
Back in October 2010 Paul Routledge addressed the housing benefits cap; “Benefit laws could bring unprecedented problems to landlords”, predicting that ongoing legislation changes to housing benefit would spark a mass migration of tenants from expensive housing areas to cheaper accommodation in less expensive areas throughout the UK. Furthermore, a survey carried out around the same time revealed that our community of landlords & letting agents reported the majority of their existing tenants acknowledged that serious tenure problems (brought about by new legislation) could affect them getting accommodation in the future.
Then in December 2011 homeless families were asked to move to seaside towns in Yorkshire because of the chronic shortage of housing in Croydon; Winter Migration; Tenants Fly North.
Then in January 2012 Samii interviewed a local Property Manager & Tenant Liaison Officer from Somerset to get an in-depth view of how the change in legislation (The Local Housing Allowance shared room rate being extended to people aged under 35) was affecting them, their tenants & their company.
They predicted that this would just “add to the homelessness problem that is already rife in this country and that it could also create a gap in the market; which rogue landlords will be able to take advantage of, by offering below standard cheap accommodation in order to make a quick profit.”
They also revealed: “If what I heard yesterday is true then the pending Olympic games could also lead to a new homelessness crisis, as two homeless people came into my office today. They told me they were being encouraged to leave London and even given travel warrants because the government wants to give the impression that there is no homelessness issue in this country. . .
How true this is I do not know, but it does make you think.”
Read the interview in full HERE.
Newham’s Mayor comments that he was not particularly keen on the capping policy in the first place.
The chief executive of Brighter Futures Housing Association , Gill Brown, told the BBC:
‘I think there’s a real issue of social cleansing going on’.
In a statement on the association’s website she also said: ‘We are very anxious about this letter which we believe signals the start of a movement which could see thousands of needy people dumped in Stoke with no proper plan for their support or their welfare.
(Referring to the association’s experience when the Home Office previously moved thousands of refugees into privately owned properties in North Staffordshire) Mrs Brown went onto say:
“The result was huge unplanned pressure on local services, the collapse of already vulnerable neighbourhoods and the rise of divisive right wing extremism. We believe that, if London boroughs are allowed to export their most vulnerable and challenging families to cities like Stoke on Trent, then exactly the same will happen again.”
Karen Buck, the Labour MP who was passed the letter, said “there was increasing evidence that local authorities are not able to meet their responsibilities. We see homelessness rising, rents rising and this is a big problem for a government which claimed that none of this would happen.”
Grant Shapps, the housing minister, retorted that Newham were overstating the problem and “playing politics”, referring to it being local election time.
[UPDATED: "Shapps lapse" - Conservative-run Westminster council considering moving at least 150 homeless housing benefit claimants 130 miles away to Derby and Nottingham.]
Defending the idea of the housing benefit cap – which gives maximum allowable rents for properties, for example £400 a week for a four-bedroom property – saying
“It can’t be right to have people on housing benefit living on streets which hard-working families cannot afford to live on.”
He also said a search of property websites showed hundreds of homes to rent in Newham. But Newham’s Mayor replied that many of the landlords of these properties would not accept people on housing benefit.
Landlord Referencing wholeheartedly believe that this is direct proof that ministers were wrong when they claimed “nobody would need to move, as landlords would drop rents to accommodate welfare cuts.” Since the change in legislation the UK has experienced a definite increase in homelessness & rising rents and at Landlord Referencing we have seen a definite increase in rent defaults and property damages, e.g. from the 1st Jan 2012 – 18th April 2012
the Tenant Alert accumulated Rent Default & Property Damage total stood at
As a private landlord or letting agent how do you know that the next person that walks into your office or calls you isn’t someone who’s just been been moved from another council, who has run up thousands of pounds in rent default and/or property damage?
Quite simply YOU DON’T.
One of the biggest problems we have as landlords is that when these new people arrive in our areas we will not be able to check them out properly because they will have limited credit ratings, etc. The usual searches will be almost useless as most will not have had much credit anyway, so the only way is to take their last landlord reference – that is, if they provide you with it.
How can Lifestyle Referencing help YOU?
We are also here to equally support the millions of good tenants out there, who now realise that lifestyle network referencing is not a form of black-list at all; but a network designed to help give all decent tenants a better quality of neighbour that they deserve, as well as pay for.
Check out The Tenants Voice.
Are you a Landlord, Letting Agent or Tenant in Newham or Stoke-on-Trent?
We would love to hear your views on this – ALL views are welcomed!