What you can do to stop HAs selling off properties meant for tenants

Here is a message from a campaigner against HA property selloffs
Thank you so much everyone for the support in whatever way you have offered it. We have been overwhelmed with the messages and numbers who have turned up for the protests at the property viewings and the auctions – at very short notice.
It seems to us that every Londoner is in some way affected by the housing crisis – in every sector of our society. Even some Tories say it is “a disgrace” and “immoral” to sell off the family silver in this way – and yet the two Conservative councils, Westminster and Wandsworth, themselves sold off social housing at auction.
And several housing associations are unashamedly cashing in with Allsops, Savills and their private speculators from Dubai buying up our invaluable street properties in the better areas of London.
Here are some things you can do to assist:
1. A number of us wrote to Lord Kerslake,  kerslakeb@parliament.uk – the Chair of Peabody – and copied in our Councillors. Lord Kerslake responded pretty promptly, but with the same “justifications” as before – that they will be using the money for future developments.
Yet Peabody has made a surplus of £175m last year. The charitable aims of their benefactor George Peabody were to house the working poor. Now their new developments for leasehold sale, shared ownership which is not “ownership”, and “Affordable Housing” which is not affordable to most people, are no comparison to the social homes people have for life, to build a community, bring up their children, grow old together. They are steadily being sold off and our communities decimated.
2. The Peabody CEO wrote an article which shows how these protests have affected them this last week:  https://www.24housing.co.uk/opinion/our-social-purpose-is-alive-and-well/
You can write to Brendan Sarsfield on brendan.sarsfield@peabody.org.uk or comment on the piece on the journal website.
4. You can write to Inside Housing’s editor Martin Hilditch at editorial@insidehousing.co.uk which surprisingly did not cover the story, yet interviewed the housing minister Kit Malthouse at length about tenant involvement a few weeks ago!
5. Of the two Peabody houses on Millbank, one was sold and one did not reach its reserve price. Of those in Victoria Park, neither reached their reserve price. There is another up for auction this week and a second protest will take place outside the house tomorrow, Monday, at 7.45am for a couple of hours. Here are the details on Facebook:  17 Robertson Road, E2 9LX
6. You can sign a 38 degrees petition started a few days ago to stop this house and others being sold –  here – please help us boost this.
7. Like some have brilliantly done, you can write to your MP and request that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Govt, James Brokenshire, is asked by your MP what he is going to do about this matter.
8. There is a further protest outside the Kensington Town Hall in W8 7NX this Wednesday at 6.30pm to demand that social homes, not luxury flats, are built on the massive 2-acre Earls Court Exhibition Centres.  Facebook event Wednesday 27th at 6.30pm
9. Some tenants and supporters have shared all this on Facebook and Twitter and word has spread. Please share this as widely as you can. If you can find the time, write to the Evening Standard too – they do publish. And as many media outlets as you can think of.
If you haven’t seen the Hackney Gazette article, you can view it  here and the Westend Extra  here
This is the next auction coming up this week. (This is an online auction, so the main way of protesting would be outside individual properties. There is one Peabody house which is very nearby, in Tottenham (and very nice it looks too). Here are some details:

https://bidx1.com/en-gb/auction/property/31716 8 Peabody Estate, Lordship Lane, Tottenham, N17 7QJ – Freehold two floor terraced house, Full vacant possession, Good location.)

It seems like this reckless behaviour will not stop unless we put the pressure on the people who have the power and influence to stop these sales. This is what a Westminster resident wrote:
“Are these august personages aware that Savill’s apparently have a policy of marketing in Dubai properties belonging to Housing Associations in the UK, which was revealed this morning??  Is this appropriate in the current dire lack of housing at moderate rents??
 “It seems that Peabody are bent on approaching the most expensive of firms in order to achieve the highest possible price for the two houses which ought to remain a significant part of their portfolio to provide social housing.  When will this policy of Housing Associations and Peabody in particular be reviewed??”
Let us know if you wish to see the correspondence between ourselves and Lord Kerslake in order to take it up further with him.

Sell-offs of social housing 14th and 19th Feb – protest if you can!

A report from the Chartered Institute of Housing earlier this month showed that 165,000 social homes have been lost since 2012. This includes nearly 50,000 Housing Association homes. It predicts that loss of social housing will reach 199,000 by 2020. This makes it increasingly difficult for people on lower incomes to access a decent home at a price they can afford.

This issue affects everybody who cares about the housing crisis, not just Housing Association residents. Here is the latest on the sell-off of social housing around the country.

At the first auction, run by Allsop – Thursday 14 February, 9:00 AM, Intercontinental London Park Lane, One Hamilton Place, London W1J 7QY –
a total of 44 Housing Association homes are up for sale.
At the second auction, run by Savills – Tuesday 19 February, 10:00 AM, Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6JP – a further 18 Housing Association homes go under the hammer in Mayfair.
There is a third online auction selling a further 37 Housing Association homes. Homes for sale are in Westminster, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Haringey, Camden, Barnet, Croydon and East Sussex. [The full list of Housing Association and local authority homes for sale can be found at the weblink below – I have only pasted in Peabody ones here]
Peabody properties for sale at Allsop auction on 14th
99 Gore Road, E9 7HW                                               (Peabody) 4 bed (p)
294a Old Ford Road, E3 5SP                                       (Peabody) 1 bed (p)
71 Brightfield Road, SE12 8QE                                   (Peabody) 2 bed (p)
14 Springdale Road, N16 9NS                          (Family Mosaic) 2 bed (p)
231 Queenstown Road, SW8 3QD                              (Peabody) 4 bed (p)
67 Tyneham Road, SW11 5XQ                                    (Peabody) 2 bed (p)
Somerset Gdns, Creighton Rd, N17 8JY                    (Peabody)  1 bed (p)
19a Chatterton Road, N4 2EA                           (Family Mosaic) 2 bed (p)
Peabody properties for sale at Savills auction on 19th
14b St Pauls Road, N1 2QN                                            (Peabody) 1 bed
78a Penge Road, SE20 7UL                                             (Peabody) 2 bed
6b Crowland Road, N15 6UT                                          (Peabody) 3 bed
6 Ponsonby Terrace, Millbank Estate,SW1P 4QA         (Peabody) 4 bed
1 Ponsonby Terrace, Millbank Estate, SW1P 4PZ         (Peabody) 3 bed
7 Spring Grove, Mitcham, CR4 2NN                               (Peabody) 3 bed
BIDX1 digital property auction
5b Lordship Park,  Stoke Newington, N16 5UE     (Family Mosaic) 1 bed (p)
17 Robinson Road, Hackney, E2 9LX                                (Peabody) 2 bed (p)
77 Smyrlls Road, Walworth, SE17 2QWP               (Family Mosaic) 3 bed (p)
8 Peabody Estate, Lordship Lane, N17 7QT                       (Peabody) 3 bed (p)
47a Crowland Road, Tottenham, N15 6UL                            (Peabody) 1 bed (p)

Press release for London Assembly Demonstration October 4

Peabody Family Voice calls on Housing Association CEOs to change direction

Peabody Family Voice (PFV;1) announced today that it would be supporting the tenants’ demonstration (2) outside the GLA hearings with housing association CEOs.  PFV is calling on the CEOs to move Housing Associations (HAs) back towards the traditional values of social housing and away from the increasingly commercial direction they are currently pursuing.

Many HA residents on social rents feel they are increasingly being treated as second-class citizens by HAs that are more interested in building upmarket properties for sale at the market price. Amongst the problems being experienced by HA residents are:

  • poor quality repairs and maintenance by contractors who are not properly managed by HAs
  • difficulty in getting their concerns heard because, through repeated mergers, HAs have become unaccountable and remote bureaucracies with no personal relationships with residents
  • a shortage of new properties for social rent, due to the HAs’ practice of building less than 10% of new properties for social rent
  • worry about security of tenancy due to the HAs’ practice of giving residents fixed term tenancies.

PFV believes that all these practices are due to HAs abandoning the traditional values of social housing, which they were founded upon and adopting the free market philosophy. PFV is therefore asking the CEOs the following questions at the hearings:

1. Will you commit to abolishing fixed term tenancies for residents in favour of secure tenancies with registered fair rents?
2. Will you commit to a moratorium on the amalgamation of Housing Associations?
3. Will you commit to ending the contracting out of maintenance and repairs and taking these activities in-house through Direct Labour Organisations?

4. Will you commit to ensuring that at least 50% of new properties built are for genuine social rent, not so-called ‘affordable rent’?

Sharon Rose, a Peabody tenant said: “I’m sick of Housing Associations being just another part of the machine of gentrification and social cleansing. Londoners need social housing more than ever now. It’s time for the big Housing Associations to serve the people they were set up to help.”

For more information, contact David King or Sharon Rose on 020 7502 7516 or 07854 256040, or at hello@pfvoice.org.uk.

Notes for editors

1. Peabody Family Voice is a group of residents of Peabody and the former Family Mosaic Housing Associations, set up in January 2018 to oppose the merger of the two Housing Associations, and to campaign for tenants’ rights.

2. The demonstration has been organised by Housing Association Residents Action, the Social Housing Action Campaign, Homes for All, and Notting Hill Genesis Residents. It will take place at 1 PM on Thursday, October 4 outside City Hall, during the hearing of the GLA Housing Committee, which will be questioning CEOs of four major housing associations (https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/london-assembly/london-assemblys-current-investigations/housing-associations).

Peabody “wants to learn from Amazon”!

Asalto al Coche [Attack on the Coach] by Francisco Goya
Asalto al Coche [Attack on the Coach] by Francisco Goya (courtesy of Wikipedia)
In a recent article in 24Housing Alison Muir, Peabody’s Director of Operations for Thamesmead and South Region, says “the housing sector can learn a great deal from Amazon. We can make a lot of progress with new technologies to help improve our operations.”

Would this be the same Amazon which is exploiting their workers, forcing independent retailers out of business and refusing to pay the taxes they owe the British public?

Muir’s article is headlined ‘Stand and deliver’, so Peabody Family Voice presumes that our Housing Association aspires to take us back 3 centuries and behave like the highwaymen who held up travellers and took their money, had a ‘racket’ on road transport to make travelling less safe and more expensive, as carriers regularly paid them a ransom to go unmolested. Coaches were often attacked because of their lack of protection, including public stagecoaches, and the postboys who carried the mail were also frequently held up.

The philosophy behind this article surely explains why Peabody residents are being held to ransom, workers are treated badly, and the Housing Association is working hand in glove with big property developers.

Tell the Mayor of London how you feel about your housing association

The Housing Committee of the GLA will hold a question and answer session with chief executives from four of London’s largest housing associations on Tuesday 4 October. Submit your questions now.

End date of consultation: 04 October 2018
From the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan:

Housing associations are by far the biggest developers of affordable London homes.  They build large numbers of market homes for rent and sale. However, they are not democratically accountable.

The largest London housing associations (sometimes called the G15) are vital partners to the Mayor if he is to come even close to delivering his housing targets. In recent years, many housing associations have merged to form much bigger organisations.

The Housing Committee of the GLA will hold a question and answer session with chief executives from four of London’s largest housing associations on Tuesday 4 October.

Committee members will use this meeting to examine the pros and cons of housing associations.  We shall be asking associations about the needs they are now serving, the ways they are now raising and spending money, and how they are considering what these changes mean for their residents.

Get involved

What would you like to ask the heads of housing associations?

You can let us know, by emailing a suggested question area to the Housing Committee at HousingCommittee@london.gov.uk along with a few lines of explanation.

Some suggested question areas:

  • Do housing associations solve problems quickly enough?
  • Are tenants properly involved in the running of housing associations?
  • What are the main issues residents face when dealing with their housing association?
  • How have the services residents receive changed in recent years?

Follow us @LondonAssembly and tweet about the meeting using #HousingAssociations

You can watch the meeting live here and you are welcome to attend.

Article in Hackney Gazette 9.8.18

Fed up Peabody tenants in Stoke Newington form campaign group to pressure housing association over repairs

PUBLISHED: Hackney Gazette 09:02 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:46 09 August 2018

The scaffolding that was up for two years.
Rubbish and scaffolding in back garden. The scaffolding that was up for two years.

A group of fed-up Peabody tenants in Stoke Newington have formed a campaign group after years of complaints about the housing association’s repair work.

Michael and Elizabeth Kelly stand in their bedroom with the temporary ceiling brace above where their bed should be. Picture: Polly Hancock
Michael and Elizabeth Kelly stand in their bedroom with the temporary ceiling brace above where their bed should be. Picture: Polly Hancock

Peabody Family Voice was only launched in January but already has members from all over London.

A spokesperson, who did not want to be named, told the Gazette it was formed after tenants from St Kilda’s Road had attended a meeting with chiefs from the association over problems with their block.

The group are all former tenants of Family Mosaic, which is now part of Peabody. The spokesperson said: “We went to a meeting because we were so angry that scaffolding had been up for two years. It covered our garden area.

“Our complaint was escalated but they just offered 14 of us in the block £23 each for our troubles. I’ve lived here 23 years, as has my neighbour – some have been here since the block was built in the ’70s.”

The scaffolding eventually came down in April.
The scaffolding in the front garden eventually came down in April.

The scaffolding eventually came down in April but the group feel maintenance of their homes and blocks is well below the standard expected, and has been getting progressively worse for decades. The group is also annoyed the switchboard has been centralised and say it’s almost impossible to get through to the right people.

The spokesperson added: “I was initially a tenant of New Islington and Hackney Housing Association, one of the first generation of housing associations that had a radical outlook and were for poor people and people with social needs.

“Back then the maintenance was done on a local basis. I had a man named Ted when I was living in a basement flat round the back of the reservoir and it was brilliant.

“I still like living in a housing association, but the local feel has gone.

A party is being held to celebrate the removal of this scaffolding. Disgruntled Peabody tenants from the group will attend, with a prize for the block that has had scaffolding up for the longest time.
Scaffolding in back garden.
A party is being held to celebrate the removal of this scaffolding. Disgruntled Peabody tenants from the group will attend, with a prize for the block that has had scaffolding up for the longest time.

“When it changed its name to Mosaic we were left out in the wilderness. And Mosaic then merged with a housing association called Family Housing.

“Then they really burst out of Hackney and Islington. That was the point at which repairs and maintenance started to go down.”

The group said 75 per cent of complaints at the meeting were about repairs, 20 per cent were about rent and five per cent were about other issues. At least six other people have had issues with scaffolding being left up for extended periods.

“Somebody somewhere must be paying for all this scaffolding,” they added.

The scaffolding that has been up for two years now.
The scaffolding that has been up for two years now.

The group wants to hear from anyone with issues.

A tongue-in-cheek party to celebrate the scaffolding coming down will take place a week on Sunday, with a prize for the tenants whose scaffolding was up for the longest time.

“We want to get together and basically let them know we will not put up with it anymore,” they said.

Others to experience issues with Peabody include 69-year-old Elizabeth Kelly, a tenant in Burma Road, who was in bed when her ceiling collapsed due to a leak in the flat above. It wasn’t fixed for three weeks.

Gavin Watson's roof after the most recent work to fix the problem. Picture: Gavin Watson
Gavin Watson’s roof after the most recent work to fix the problem. Picture: Gavin Watson

And Gavin Watson, another tenant in Burma Road, has been in and out of temporary accommodation at the association’s expense for a decade because of issues with his roof.

He said: “I was only moved back to my property in February after six months in temporary accommodation.

“I have been decanted, in total, seven times in 10 years and have had two notable periods being forced to live in a hotel and it is always catastrophic for my mental health.”

Gavin is still not happy with the work, but is refusing to move out again because of the upheaval. He says Peabody is spending thousands of pounds on temporary accommodation and legal services to take him to court, when fixing the problem would cost a fraction of that.

A Peabody spokesperson said: “We have offered quite a few options over a long period of time to try and help Mr Watson, including providing temporary accommodation. There has been more than one problem with the roof and we understand Mr Watson’s frustration.

“Previous works were inspected and approved by an independent expert as well as our own surveyors. Unfortunately Mr Watson does not accept the conclusion.”

The spokesperson added Peabody wanted to resolve the issues but couldn’t unless Gavin gave workers access.

Peabody did not respond to a request for comment about the Peabody Family Voice campaign.

Anyone experiencing issues can contact the group at hello@pfvoice.org.uk.

Garden Party August 19

A garden party to raise a bit of money for Peabody Family Voice  and to celebrate the end of a marathon maintenance job

You are invited to come and get together with other Peabody tenants and friends to celebrate the scaffolding on our block coming down after two and a quarter years and to raise some money for Peabody Family Voice.

Please bring some extra food to share and anything else you want (games, drinks of your choice, music, stories of how long you have had your scaffolding up – a prize for the person who has had it up the longest!)

3-6 pm, Sunday 19th August 2018


A brief report

The sun shone! People bought delicious food to eat! The children blew giant bubbles!

And best of all, we made some great new contacts with disgruntled Peabody residents.

Thanks to the Hackney Gazette for giving us a double-page spread to help spread the word about Peabody Family Voice.

Our article in The Guardian

Social housing is being driven by profit. Tenants must fight back

As residents of Peabody and Family Mosaic, we fear losing our rights if the two housing associations become one

As social housing residents, we have no voice, increasing commercialisation will marginalise us further.

 

Housing associations have preserved an image of being more socially responsible than private landlords or local authorities. In fact, their drive to become more commercial and the way they treat tenants means they are often little better.

In response, housing association residents are getting organised to defend our rights. Our campaign group, Peabody Family Voice, launched in January after a consultation meeting organised by Peabody in late November left us angry. We are opposing the amalgamation of Peabody and Family Mosaic, two of London’s largest housing associations. The two organisations merged in 2017, but full amalgamation, which has yet to be approved by the Peabody board, would mean all Family Mosaic tenants becoming Peabody tenants.

To read more visit The Guardian

Peabody Family Voice statement

As tenants and residents of Peabody and Family Mosaic Housing Associations, we have come together to insist that:

* Peabody and Family Mosaic must not amalgamate. The amalgamation of these two Housing Associations is not in our best interests. Each is already too large, remote, and unaccountable to its tenants. As they have grown, services have deteriorated exponentially, and this must stop.

* Peabody and Family Mosaic must maintain the traditional values of housing associations and defend social housing. This means no sell-off of existing properties, no extension of the Right to Buy, no introduction of short-term tenancies, no further implementation of the 2016 Housing Act, no building of houses for sale and commercial rent, and no collection of data about tenants’ income or immigration status.

* Peabody and Family Mosaic must decentralise and localise housing services. Our housing associations have become too large, staff are inaccessible and their morale is low. Remote call centres and extended chains of communication should be abandoned in favour of being able to talk directly to housing and neighbourhood officers and repair teams.

* Peabody and Family Mosaic must drastically improve repairs and maintenance performance. This can be achieved by localisation, but also by ending outsourcing of contracts to commercial building companies who are themselves too large and remote.

* Peabody and Family Mosaic must maintain genuinely social rent levels for all tenants. Rents must be pegged for social tenants, as well as for key workers who are classified as ‘Intermediate Tenants’, and whose rent has been increasing each year well beyond inflation and income levels.

Peabody Family Voice, January 2018

JOIN US so we can help each other campaign on these issues!

Contact us at hello@pfvoice.org.uk