SHAC members on a Clarion estate are celebrating victory following a partial rent strike. Strikers in north London have successfully secured action to address a number of concerns that had been outstanding for years. The repairs, some of which tenants have been requesting for five years, have been offered just three weeks after strike letters were sent to the landlord.
This welcome development represents the first victory for SHAC’s strike group, and it is significant that it has occurred in the largest landlord in the UK.
Repairs and Compensation
As a result of the strike, the estate entrace will be fitted with a new gate, helping reduce anti-social behaviour. Additional lighting will be installed in the utility cupboard.
To prevent pigeons from causing unsightly mess and a health hazard, netting will be mounted to prevent access to nesting sites.
In recognition of the efforts that residents have had to make over a protracted five year period, Clarion has also offered compensation to those involved.
One tenant commented:
I feel incredibly empowered. I’ve been trying to get Clarion to do this work for two years.
The tenant described being bounced around from one department to another, with no-one wanting to take responsibility for addressing their complaints. Promised return calls didn’t materialise. The constant stress affected many on the estate who described the suffering caused to them and their families.
I’ve spent hours of my life banging on the doors of fortress Clarion. It seemed like we were left to beg even just to get them to sort out pigeon mess.
It’s such a relief. There’s a definite change in attitude coming across. They have even been more respectful in the way they speak to us on the phone.
Tenants have reported that Clarion is now asking them what repairs they need instead of making them feel like they were being a problem and a nuisance.
Clarion is one of the largest housing associations in Britain. It owns and manages around 125,000 homes, and houses about 350,000 people. The landlord reports a turnover of around £850 million. Amongst its board members is Gavin Barwell who was Housing Minister at the time of the Grenfell tragedy which killed over 70 people.
The Battle Continues
Tenants and residents on the estate, while satisfied with the initial response, have pledged to continue withholding part of their rents until all the work has been completed. They have also said that campaigning will be unabated. Striker Wendy Charlton pledged:
Ultimately we want a change in approach across the board. We pay rent. They are not doing us a favour by housing us. We want a fundamental resetting of the relationship between Clarion and tenants.
SHAC Rent and Service Charge Strike Group
The SHAC Rent and Service Charge Strike Group was set up to coordinate tenants and residents of different housing associations who want to withhold payments in protest at their landlord’s failings. A total of 17 landlords have been affected by tenant and resident strike action.
9 July 2021