By guest writer Paul Burnham
Housing associations have been breaking rent regulations all around London. If they are doing it here, they will be doing it everywhere, illigitmately generating of hundreds of thousands of pounds profit.
Freedom of Information Act replies show that in one-third of boroughs, new Social Rents were set above the “Cap” which is the maximum permitted amount. Two beds in Greenwich were £168.15 per week while the Cap was £149.74, and three beds in Brent were £173.93 while the Cap was £158.06.
Housebuilding landlords pile costs onto tenants through higher rents. They say ‘Housing benefit will take the strain’.
Social rent setting is supposedly tenure blind between councils and housing associations. But the data shows that it is housing associations and not local authorities which charge much higher rents and service charges.
Service charges are especially pernicious. The landlord can say that the rent is some affordable figure, but when it’s time for the tenant to pay, the actual rent is much higher. In practice tenants have very little control over service charges, although we should challenge them and get refunds where we can prove that no service has been delivered.
There is mounting evidence that existing social rents do not allow for decent living standards.
In the UK, 638,000 children both suffer material deprivation and live in families with severe low incomes after housing costs; and half of them are in social renting households. 47% of food bank users are social tenants. Therefore proper rent regulation is vital.
The Regulator of Social Housing has refused to investigate the breaches of the social rent setting regulations, even though they have now been supplied with further evidence identifying 18 providers with recorded breaches, which include nine of the twelve members of the G15 group of top London housing associations. Top of the list is Peabody, where there are concerns about rent setting in four different boroughs.
We are currently going through a Stage Two complaint, asking the Regulator to do its job and investigate this evidence. You can help, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org using the reference CAS-120340-X5V2Y3. Please also copy email@example.com into your message.
People are getting more educated. Let us empower tenants, open the books, and publish all social rent calculations.
30 January 2021