There are over 23,000 families on the waiting list for homes in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The vast majority of these will never secure a home via the social rented sector and very many are truly deserving cases.
For others social housing appears to be a right, whether they need it or not.
The press, members of the public and many councillors are often bemused at the recitation of interests from amongst certain councillors when housing issues are raised in Tower Hamlets. For some time Conservative councillors have been researching a dossier to be passed to the Minister for Housing calling for action. He has actually announced this as the dossier arrived on his desk.
How could anyone live in social rented property, drive a large car, have several businesses and even have another property purchased under right to buy, well it happens here?
How can a self promoting millionaire with a large property portfolio consisting of houses, shops and restaurants boast of improving the swimming pool in a property he owns in South Woodford continue to
occupy a property in this most deprived of boroughs, a property owned and managed by the Peabody Trust no less?
Then we have the convicted fraudster, Councillor Shelina Akhtar or Shelina Aktar in other documents with two properties. There is Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green with her designated home in Maidstone enjoying a highly subsidised rent of just £124 per week, courtesy of the Spitalfields Housing association, for a three story town house within walking distance of the City of London.
Perhaps most scandalous is the former council officer and part time politician, with an income, calculated from publicly available information of £247,000, with a rented property address in key worker housing, provided by the Newlon Housing Association in this borough, as well as being the owner occupier of a large family house elsewhere.
None of these people, and there are many more, should be allowed to occupy social housing when there are needy people who are often in desperate circumstances.
Last week a tenant seeking transfer of a tenancy held by his family for 40 years, more than his entire life, was told he could retain a tenancy but would have to leave the three bedroom family home. He earns less than £20,000 per year.
A year ago One Housing threatened a local woman with eviction. Why? Because, she told the landlord that after a period of unemployment she had secured a job. The job was for a cruise line and she would be
away, “living” on a cruise ship for periods.
We believe that:
- Registered Social Landlords should enforce existing legislation to allow them to terminate the tenancies of tenants who own or occupy other properties and there should be rules to permit the RSL to reclaim the property when there is evidence that a tenant owned and lived in a property elsewhere whilst purchasing a home under RTB legislation.
- Registered Social Landlords, if not seeking re-possession should charge a market rent for their properties. It is a scandal the people such as those outlined in the case studies described above, highly paid trade union official, such as Bob Crowe and former cabinet minister; Frank Dobson should be permitted to occupy subsidised housing whilst others, who earn a fraction of their salaries, await homes.
- In the interests of transparency those holding public office and senior officials in public service, earning over £65,000 a year should declare whether they are local authority or RSL tenants and this should be available for inspection, indicating the actual rent paid, alongside their public funded salary and all additional expenses.
- Finally the level of a salary of £100,000 is extremely high, even for London. Most earning £65,000 should be able to raise a mortgage, particularly where there are two earners in the household.