At the SHAC open meeting on Monday 14th September, activists highlighted the need to stand together in opposing evictions, shout out against the fire safety and cladding scandals, and organise to increase tenant and resident democracy.
Maintain the Eviction Moratorium
The eviction moratorium – which meant that courts could not process eviction applications – is due to end on the 20th September 2020. From Monday, landlords will begin proceedings which could ultimately force tenants onto the streets, and will be doing so against a backdrop of sharply rising Covid-19 infections. The latest figures report over 2,500 new cases per day.
Alongside groups such as ACORN, LRU, RHN and H4A, our previous protests were part of the movement which successfully forced government to extend the ban by four weeks, and the notice period for evictions from three to six months. These were important retreats, and show that it is possible to get heard despite all the media chatter about Brexit, Covid-19, and the economy.
We must keep up the pressure!
Please join SHAC and other groups at the Homes for All event, 11am, Parliament Square, on Wednesday 16th September, timed to coincide with Prime Minister’s Question Time. Please bring placards, friends and neighbours!
Waive Rents and Service Charges
We have written to the executives of the twelve ‘G15’ group of large associations asking them to waive rents and service charges for those who have struggled economically due to the pandemic. Three wrote back (Clarion, L&Q and MTVHA) outlining their eviction prevention services, but none agreed to our demand to waive rents and service charges despite vast reserves. We will follow up with letters to their boards and continue to pressure them.
Fire Safety and cladding
We have been working with tenant and resident groups on a high profile campaign which has hit the mainstream media highlighting the swathe of buildings still clad in flammable material and without adequate fire prevention systems. This leaves tenants and residents at great risk of being caught in another Grenfell style inferno.
Hitting Leaseholders Hard
A second consequence of this failing is that residents (both full leaseholders and shared ownership residents) could face bills of up to £78,000 for remedial work – an amount many are describing as life-changing and impossible to meet. The costs are therefore by-passing wealthy landlords and being passed on directly to those such as keyworkers so recently applauded by government as being essential to society.
We are planning an Autumn Conference on Fire Safety to develop our campaign and involve the widest possible alliance of housing activists. Please keep an eye on our website (www.shaction.org) for more information.
The Tenant and Resident Democracy Deficit
As our members regularly highlight, all of these problems arise because there is now an acute Tenant and Resident Democracy deficit, with tenants having very little control over the decisions made by their landlords. This is especially the case in larger and more commercialised associations.
To provide housing association tenants and residents with a stronger voice and make it harder for landlords to ignore them, SHAC is now establishing landlord-specific groups, bringing together their tenants and residents associations (TRAs) and those not in any local group. The groups will democratically agree a joint set of demands that can be put collectively to the landlord, and will help maximize our power in getting them fulfilled. It will compliment but not to replace local organising.
If you would like to help launch or participate in one of these groups, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. So far we have interest in SHAC@Clarion and SHAC@One Housing Group.
15 September 2020