Complaints Procedures, Disability, Housing protest, MTVHA, Rent Strike, Service Cuts, Tenant & Resident Democracy

Power in Numbers at MTVHA’s Trident Point

Trident Point tower block owned by Metropolitan Thames Valley housing association in Harrow has a history of disrepairs, rodent infestations, and broken promises by the landlord.

The block has regularly featured on the news pages of Harrow Times, and when the lift broke down yet again just after Christmas 2021, tenants reached the end of their tolerance.

Adam Gabsi is a wheelchair user. Without a working lift, he is either locked out of his home, or as he put it “a prisoner without having committed a crime”. It was an intolerable situation.

Power in Numbers

Working with Harrow Law Centre’s Jackson Caines, the tenants built a campaign. Adam played a leading role, going from door to door and collectivising neighbours.

Sherma Pascal helped galvanise tenants in the block into taking action

Another leading tenant, Sherma Pascal, felt WhatsApp had been one of the most useful coordinating tools, helping them instantly update neighbours as the situation developed. Tenants coalesced around a set of seven demands, including an end to the shabby condition of the building and the unrealiable lift service.

Taking to Twitter and the press, the group was able to get a meeting with MTVHA representatives, the management company, the local MP and councillors, and Harrow Law Centre. Jackson says “They felt the pressure”.

During the meeting, MTVHA promised to develop an action plan for repairs. The group left the two-and-a-half hour meeting cautiously optimistic, but have grown more confident since. Unlike previous occasions, the repair work started immediately the next day.

Strike Threat

Adam Gabsi believes that with the rent strike threat hanging over them, MTVHA has been forced to take tenant demands seriously

One of the options agreed by the action group was that if the repairs were not carried out, they would begin withholding rents and service charges.

Adam believes this was a critical means of underscoring their seriousness. They combined this threat with online campaigning and other methods.

A Model Campaign

The Trident Point Action Group developed a model campaign, and will continue to give their tenant members a powerful voice, creating a more equal basis for negotiations with MTVHA.

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For those wanting to find out more, contact the Trident Point Action Group, Harrow Law Centre, or SHAC.

9 February 2022

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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