UK's Bad Housing Crisis

fighting for fairer housing in the UK

The Governments’ Response on Overcrowding

As Shelter’s petition to get the law changed on overcrowding comes to a close, the Government has issued the following statement in response:

This Government is committed to tackling overcrowding. An important part of this is to build more affordable homes sooner and make sure more of these are family-sized. That’s exactly why we’ve made housing a key priority, backed by an extra £1.5bn investment over the two years, and why we’re making sure that by 2010/11 a third of new affordable homes will have three or more bedrooms.

Prior to making any change to the statutory standards we want to ensure that we have the right processes in place to support overcrowded households. We are currently funding, through a £15m programme, 54 ‘pathfinder’ areas to develop their own strategies and practical solutions to reduce overcrowding

Through this programme we are also building our evidence base which will help to establish the full cost, impact and timing of undertaking a phased and manageable move to a new statutory standard.

Local authorities can develop their own definition of overcrowding to determine which households have ‘reasonable preference’ for social housing, and use definitions that are much more generous than the statutory standard.

The right long-term solution to overcrowding must be to increase supply of new houses: we have increased our investment in affordable housing over this year and next to deliver 112,000 new homes and we’ve launched the largest council house building programme in two decades.

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , ,

Trouble Paying Your Metered Water Bill?

If you are on a water meter and you have children and/or medical conditions that require higher than average water use, then help may be just around the corner.

Many water companies in the UK provide social tariffs to those households who pay for their water on a metered basis.

Some tariffs are based solely on medical conditions, some are based on household size and most take into account if the householder who pays the water bill is in receipt of certain state benefits.

Currently, some of the benefits that may qualify a person to join a social tariff for metered water are:

* Housing Benefit/Local Housing Allowance

* Council Tax Benefit

* Child Tax Credit

* Working Tax Credit

* State Pension Credit

If you think you may be entitled and would benefit from switching to the social tariff, contact your water company and ask to join their social tariffs, sometimes called Aqua Care (benefits only) or Water Sure (large families/medical conditions).

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Can’t Heat Your Home?

If you have no installed heating in the property you are living in or it doesn’t work, chances are that not only are you very cold, but your home will be plagued by persistant varieties of mould, some of which are extremely toxic.

Most people forced to put up with awful dated living conditions like this have to buy small heaters and place them around the home or maybe in just one room, where the costs of the electricty can be astronomical!
It in inconceivable to many in warm comfy homes that anyone in modern Britain today live with these conditions, nevertheless it is a sad but true fact.

Living in a home like this that is being rented from a landlord is classed as a Category 1 Hazard and you should most definitely complain about this to your Local Council Housing Standards Department. They can either force your landlord to do the work or prosecute them.

If you and your children are suffering in the meantime, you could apply to your Local Council Homeless Department, to apply for homelessness depending on your circumstances on the grounds that your home is unfit for habitation due to it’s condition (ie. in this case no heating) (first seek professional advice on this).

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get a grant to help you heat your home, please go to Warm Front for more information.

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Where is Your Landlords’ Gas Safety Certificate?

Your landlord has duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to arrange maintenance by a Gas Safe Engineer >>> http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/.

He/she must also arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.
Indeed before you move in, your landlord should provide you with the current copy of the last safety check.

If you are with an agent, then they must do the above.

If your landlord or agent won’t provide you with the current copy of the gas safety check then you must write to them and request this. A sample letter that can be edited can be found here.

If they still refuse to show you the gas safety certificate, then get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive, for contact details of your local office please go to the website.

In the meantime, make sure you purchase a carbon monoxide detector!

What should I do if I smell gas or I am concerned about the safety of any gas appliances?

If you suspect there is a gas leak you should immediately do the following:

* Call National Grid’s Gas Emergency Freephone number: 0800 111 999

* Open all the doors and windows

* Shut off the gas supply at the meter control valve (if you know where it is).

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , , , , ,

Get Your Deposit Back!

Have you left your private rented home and you previous landlord is refusing to pay your deposit back, or just plain ignoring your phonecalls and letters about it?

Join the club.

Do not despair, if your tenancy began after the 6th April 2007, there is good redress for you in this situation.

Firstly, it is a lawful requirement for landlords and/or letting agents to write to you within 14 days of you handing over your deposit, to tell you which one of three government schemes they have placed your deposit into.

If they haven’t written to you, this often means that unfortunately they either don’t know about this important law or they have chosen to ignore it!

Best thing to do is to write the landlord a letter asking where your deposit has been placed as you have not received the information about it yet.

If you are ignored, don’t panic. When you choose to leave the property, you will be able to take the landlord through a small claims procedure and because you gave the landlord ample chance to tell you where it was by:
a) waiting

and then b) enquiring where it was.

By the time you leave, if he/she hasn’t put your deposit into a scheme and told you where it is, then the landlord will have 100% broken the law and you should be entitled to compensation.

There are some restrictions on this, but broadly speaking, the landlord will be ordered to pay a sum of 3 times the original amount of the deposit to you plus court fees.

To begin action against your former landlord, you will need to write to them of your intention to take action and enclose a copy of the court form ‘N1‘.

Hopefully your landlord will pay up once they realise the full implication for them financially once they are taken to court by you.

Like all legal cases, there is set procedure, but this is all pretty straightforward.

See Shelter’s guide to taking your landlord to court regarding getting your deposit back.

It is important to also note that if your landlord or letting agent did not inform you that your deposit is protected in one of 3 government schemes, then your landlord will not be able to serve notice on you to leave until this has been done.

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , , ,

Vertical Rush 2010 is here!

That’s right, Shelter’s 2nd Vertical Rush to raise money for the charity is here!

After last year’s event (the first of it’s kind in the UK), brave runners will today repeat this extraordinary event by racing up the 920 steps in order to reach the 42nd floor of Tower 42 in London in the shortest time possible!

Many thanks to all who have sponsored this amazing day 🙂

Shelter Vertical Rush 2010

Shelter Vertical Rush 2010

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Nearly 3 Years on… Dispatches: Britain’s Bad Housing

This Dispatches programme was shown in 2007, not much has changed since then Mr.Brown!

Filed under: UK housing, , , ,

Animation about temporary accommodation

Some of the worst housing is temporary accommodation. Often inadequately heated, too small and dangerous, here is the animated experience of some children living in temporary accommodation in Newham:

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Trapped in bad housing

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Do you know if your landlord is paying the mortgage?

Currently if your landlord defaults on the mortgage, you as a tenant have very few rights. If you suspect you are in this situation get help immediately:

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Listen Up – The Voices of Homeless Children

http://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/66444/Listen_up.pdf

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If I were a landlord…

I would:

* Have a good standard property – safe and fit for purpose.
* Rent it to the correct amount of occupiers only.
* Check gas and electrical appliances regularly, asking tenants if I can enter to inspect these appliances on a mutually agreeable date and time, in writing well in advance.
* Protect the tenants’ deposit in the correct deposit protection scheme.
* Respond to legitimate repair requests promptly.
* Put all agreements, repair requests, queries etc. in writing to and from tenants helping to protect everyone from possible litigation.
* Keep up to date with housing law and housing safety requirements.

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , ,

‘Dear bad man’

I was sent a copy of this letter by the mother of an 8 year old girl who had written to the perpetrator of the violence that had forced them to move away from friends and family.

Here is the extract:

‘Dear bad man

you scared me alot when you fighted outside our house. mum and dad used to get woried about it too. when you and your frends came in our house and beat up my dad, i was crying, my brother was crying. mum was crying to. i shaked upstairs and could not breathe.
dad just wanted you to fight somewhere else because we got scared by it alot. im glad you did not make my dad dead.

we all had to move away because of you. i miss my nan and my friends. i miss my pink bedroom and i got bullied at this new school. i am sad alot and my mum cries alot about what happend. i dont like this house, it is cold alot.
i dont understand why you would hurt my dad he looks after us.’

The family is still struggling to get good social rented housing, they are currently in temporary accommodation which is too small for their needs.

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , ,

Hazards at home?

If your rented accommodation is dangerous and your landlord won’t come and put right, then get your local council housing standards department to sort them out.

Yes unfortunately it is perfectly possible that your landlord could issue retaliatory eviction over it. The UK law makers haven’t quite got this bit right yet, but frankly if your home is in that much of a state, you or a family member could die.

Take this apalling example of faulty electrical wiring which killed Thirza Whithall whilst her 5 year old daughter stood over her and said a prayer before taking her two year old brother out of the house to get help.

If you are a landlord reading this: could you really live with a tenants’ death on your hands?

There are many things that are classed as a Category 1 hazard, such as faulty wiring, no working heating and faulty gas boilers.

Landlords can be forced to put right the hazards and councils have the power to prosecute landlords for flouting their responsibilities to their tenants, with judges looking exceedingly unfavourably at landlords who put peoples’ lives at risk. It is even known for prison sentences to be given out when cases have been very bad. Be warned Mr or Ms Atrocious Landlord!

Get help before it’s too late and stand up for your rights to a safe and healthy home!

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , , ,

Waiting for the Future

Waiting for the Future, £5

Waiting for the Future, £5

Waiting For the Future is a collection of poignant poems written by children in bad housing and can be found at the Shelter store for £5.

Filed under: UK housing, , , , , ,

What is Bad Housing?

According to page 11 of Shelter’s ‘Life Chance Report’ (and anyone with even half a heart), bad housing is:

‘Homelessness

(People) who have been found to be homeless

by a local authority and placed in

temporary accommodation.

Overcrowding

‘bedroom standard’ measure

of overcrowding. For example,

overcrowded conditions would

include situations where differentsex

children aged 10 or over have to

share a bedroom; where parents have

to share a bedroom with a child or

children; where there are more than

two children in a bedroom; and where

rooms such as kitchens and living

rooms are used as bedrooms.

Shelter uses thePoor conditions or unfitness

The Government describes a decent

home as one that is wind and

weather tight, warm, and has modern

facilities. Unfit or poor conditions

are where housing is in need of

substantial repairs; is structurally

unsafe; is damp, cold, or infested;

or is lacking in modern facilities.’

 

Filed under: UK housing, , , , ,

Happy Valentines Day

Your home might be crap but remember you all love each other and must stay strong and fight together to get a better life for all of you.

Stay Strong

Stay Strong

Filed under: UK housing, , ,

Private Landlords Must Be Held to Account

This is not directed at landlords who rent out decent homes to people at fair cost, protect their deposit, treat their good tenants with respect and dignity, repair things that are necessary, keep the home in good safe working order, give tenants their deposits back when it’s definitely appropriate, allow tenants to live in their property safely and quietly, give good references to great tenants without fuss or delay.  No, those landlords I have no beef with.

To you landlords who deviate from the above – SHAME ON YOU!     Guess what Mr or Ms Bad Landlord?  The government is gaining on you fast and tenants are knowing their rights and exercising them on an increasing (alarming for you!) basis.

Filed under: UK housing, , ,

Life Chance Report – How Bad Housing Affects Children

http://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/66442/Lifechancereport.pdf

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Make the invisible, visible

When five tribesmen from a remote South Pacific island take up root in Julie and Ray’s house in Manchester, they can’t quite believe what they see.

On a trip to Manchester City Centre, they notice there are people sleeping rough.  It seems inconceivable to them that in such a ‘rich’ country, people will still not have a home – not least with all the buildings they spot sadly standing empty.

‘You seem to have this back to front in England, you seem to treat your animals better than people.’

Meet the Natives - You'd always be welcome at their house!

Meet the Natives - You'd always be welcome at their house!

Whilst we should of course look after animals, does it seem that odd to look after our fellow human when he/she is in trouble too?

Watch the episode on Channel4od here>>>  

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/meet-the-natives/4od#2921665

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