We write as members of a Residents’ Association, facing the challenges of the proposed Housing Bill, which will affect all who live in properties owned by borough councils in central London.
We are concerned that the effects of the Housing Bill are not widely known, and that, if passed in its present form, the Bill will have enormously damaging consequences for London’s long established residential communities and for the city as a whole.
Our mansion block is owned by Camden Council, and occupied by a mix of council tenants and leaseholders. We are a stable community, reflecting the local population, with a range of different income and ethnic groups and age profiles, and offer a good example of social cohesion.
Three aspects of the Bill are of particular concern to our Residents Association:
1. Where the combined income of the two highest earners in a tenanted flat is above £40,000, rents will be increased by an as yet unspecified amount up to local market rates.
2. When a tenant’s flat becomes vacant, the council will be obliged to sell it; only if the Council ‘pays’ the government its market price (from its already strapped budget?), can it remain as a tenanted council property.
3. All new tenancies, including succession tenancies, will be for 2-5 years only; any new tenants will be unable to put down roots.
Given property values for central London, tenants could face unmanageable rent increases; our residents would gradually become exclusively leaseholders, or those renting, short-term, from property developers. The community fragments and dies.
We urge all who care about London as a city to find out more about the Bill, to write to their MPs and councillors about its dubious and unclear proposals, and to demonstrate to Parliament the long term damaging effects of the proposed legislation.
Prof. John O’Keefe, FRS, UCL
Emeritus Prof. Eileen O’Keefe, London Metropolitan University
Prof. Deborah Philips, University of Brighton
Dr. Garry Whannel, University of Bedfordshire