Sent to us by our friends in Victoria Park Residents Association…………………….
The rising levels of rent faced by tenants continues to be a major worry. The debate about affordable rents in London generally is a recurring topic in the media at the moment. In February in the London Evening Standard a Peabody tenant had a letter published highlighting the problems he and his wife face with two consecutive years of 9% rise and, having been told by Peabody that this is likely to be the situation for at least the next five years, they face a situation where their rent payments will become 80% of their income as nurses.
One view that has been expressed in discussions on the topic of affordable rents is that housing associations, rather than operate as purely social landlords, have become increasingly involved in property development and land speculation. They have also been moving increasingly towards market rents, thereby contributing to the lack of affordable rented property in the capital.
Last February “24 Housing Magazine” wrote “… over on the social side of the housing divide, a number of housing associations are looking to diversify into market renting or expand their existing operations. Affinity Sutton, Circle, Genesis, Network, Notting Hill and Peabody have all joined the private trade body, the British Property Federation (BPF). Membership brings with it the chance to network with big institutional investors and learn from the private sector.”
The Residents’ Associations of the four estates that were purchased from Crown by Peabody will have to mobilise to impress upon Peabody that such a situation is not only unacceptable but is untenable if Peabody are genuine in their stated aims of keeping the estates affordable for London key workers and people on fixed incomes.
Naturally enough, there is an anger building among some tenants who are beginning to ask how they can begin to fight back and what their Associations are planning to do to campaign against the continual rises.
One thing is certain, the feeling of relief when following our vigorous campaign against Crown Estate’s sell off of the estates, Peabody emerged as our new landlords is looking somewhat misplaced.
The Peabody Trust was founded in 1862 by an Act of Parliament. The Trust was bequeathed a large sum of money for its day by American financier, George W. Peabody, for the alleviation of poverty in London. The notion of growth did not figure in the original intentions of The Trust, but like so many other charities, it came to regard itself as a major player in the marketplace.
We need to take every opportunity to remind Peabody of its original core beliefs while also impressing upon them that aligning themselves with corporate landlords is at odds with the statement made on their website in a response last year to the coalition government’s “Communities and Local Government’s (CLG) proposals” where they said “Peabody only operates in London and we are very concerned about the impact of the Government’s proposals on people on low incomes in the capital, particularly given the high market rents in some parts of central London. We need to provide more housing in central London at rents related to what people can afford…”.
We hope that we begin to see that this is indeed the central core of their policies on keeping homes affordable to key workers and people on minimum wage and fixed incomes.