Affordable Rents…continuing worries

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.

‘Get Started with Football’ with the Prince’s Trust and QPR FC Community Trust

If you are between the ages of 16-25 and into football but out of work and not currently in education, then Get Started with The Prince’s Trust & QPR Community Trust and achieve your goals.

Join their free Football programme where you can:

– gain a FA Level 1 Football Coaching Award

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– receive three months support after the programme to help you move into education, training or employment

Interested?

To register your interest or for more information contact Phil Curtis on: 020 7543 1409 or email gslondon@princes-trust.org.uk  or text the word ‘Football’ to 07775 722 500

Taster Day – 13th March

Main Programme – 18th – 22nd March 2013.

Lunch and travel will be provided during the programme

Rents

Resident Association (RA) representatives from the ex-Crown Estates, Victoria Park, Lee Green, Millbank and Cumberland Market, met recently with Steve Howlett, Chief Executive of Peabody and other senior Peabody staff to discuss existing rent levels and proposed rent increases.

What had been arranged by Peabody as a meeting to have a full and frank discussion about rents and to listen to our views, RA reps were very disappointed to be then told at the start of the meeting, without discussion, what Peabody had already decided.

It was stated that Peabody plan to:

•    Increase rents that are below their ceiling rent level by 7%.
•    Increase rents at ceiling rent by 3.6%.
•    Continue with the agreed formula for setting the rents of former regulated tenants.
•    Set rents for new tenancies anywhere between 60% – 80% of local market rents.

The RAs are very concerned that providing truly affordable housing does not seem to be a major aim of Peabody, at least in relation to the estates acquired from the Crown Estate. Steve Howlett and the other senior Peabody staff were anxious to point out that the estates were not breaking even financially at present and there could be no question of a rent increase freeze or a policy of reduction in the present formula for determining rent levels.

This meeting was far from satisfactory as far as the RAs were concerned and, working together, rent issues will be a major focus for the future work for the four estates

Peabody seem not to be listening to our concerns about the unacceptable levels of increase at a time when many tenants are on fixed or diminishing incomes and key workers are experiencing a wage freeze and jobs are being lost. How can people keep on paying these high increases?!

We are also concerned about the high number of empty properties on our estates – the reason? new tenants cannot afford the high rents that are being charged! Even Peabody accept this and in some cases have reduced the level they can charge – 80% of market rent – to a lower figure of 65% – and still they find it hard to let some of these properties!

Representatives from the 4 RAs will be meeting soon to discuss these issues and to plan on what we should do next………………watch this space!!

Consultation on Borough-wide 20 mph speed limit

Camden council is looking for feedback on a proposed 20mph Borough-wide speed limit.

They are committed to reducing road casualties in the borough and creating more pleasant neighbourhoods for everyone.  They would like to know your views about a possible borough-wide 20 mph speed limit,

If you would like to take part in this survey, please click on the following link: http://t.co/C59HS4An