Housing Plus Academy Tenant Workshop 25th June 2019
What Can Tenants Do To Make Their Homes Safe and Decent?
25th June 2019
Waterloo Action Centre, London
We know from the Social Housing Green Paper that the government is taking seriously that all homes, particularly rented homes, should be made safe and should be raised to a new decent standard. We also know that is crucial for tenants to be heard, whether they are social housing tenants or private tenants. Their knowledge and experience of the conditions of homes on the ground are a vital source of information for landlords.
There are many issues affecting standards of safety and decency. The Grenfell fire disaster changed things radically and forced landlords to react. Tenants will often take action when things go wrong such as in the Ledbury Estate in Southwark where concrete panels were moving apart, causing major cracks in walls which created a major breech in fire safety. We also know tenants can work with landlords in a very constructive way in order to improve conditions.
The need for social housing and low cost rented housing is now so strong that there is more and more tenant opposition in high demand areas to any suggestion of demolishing their homes. They know from experience the chances of those homes being replaced are significantly reduced. Therefore the Mayor of London has introduced a new rule that tenants must be balloted before any decision about demolition and replacement can take place. The evidence shows it requires about £200,000 per social housing unit for social landlords to replace the units that are lost. Due to limited grant funding, this replacement is only affordable if much of the replacement housing is market housing, causing many problems in what are called mixed communities. Therefore ballots and other forms of consultation cause a whole new area of potential conflict.
Improving estates as opposed to removing them has shown some amazing gains, such as the Wilmcote House in Portsmouth where the council calculated it was actually cheaper to raise 3 blocks of high rise flats to the passivhaus standard of energy efficiency, saving tenants £100s a year and making their homes and surroundings much more attractive, rather than demolishing and replacing. This is a rare example of creative thinking by a local authority. One of the key issues for landlords and tenants is how to pay for improvements, how to make sure repairs are delivered on the ground where tenants can see and contact the people responsible and where on the ground services are vital to making estates work.
We hope this Think Tank will bring tenants and frontline staff together to discuss how it can be done; and how social housing can be made safe and decent; how private rented homes can also be made safe and decent; and what role tenants can play in this. We aim for every delegate to take away an action plan for themselves on how they can make things better in their community and how they can work with their landlords to achieve this.
We keep costs to the absolute minimum to allow as many as possible to come. The charge is £50 per participant, with a £5 discount for second or further participants from the same organisation. This covers refreshments, lunch, organisation and a resource pack. Please contact Ellie Benton at LSE to book your place: firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
The outline programme can be found here: Safe and Decent Homes Tenant Workshop Programme
We hope you can join us at the Waterloo Action Centre for this exciting and innovative event.