Coronavirus: Mayor of Havering criticises housing association after it rejects his call for rent break for Orchard Village tenants

PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 March 2020

Councillor Michael Deon Burton   Picture: April Roach.

Councillor Michael Deon Burton Picture: April Roach.

April Roach

The Mayor of Havering has criticised a housing association after it rejected his call for a rent break for residents at a Rainham housing estate.

Councillor Michael Deon Burton, ward councillor for South Hornchurch, wrote a letter to residents at the Orchard Village estate in which he urged Clarion Housing to provide rent relief amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Clarion runs the estate, a development built on the site of the former Mardyke Estate.

In his letter to residents, Cllr Deon Burton wrote: “Covid-19 is the most significant threat to ourselves since the Second World War. In support of those people who are self-isolating, I shall be asking Clarion Housing not to pursue or evict any tenant in arrears due to doing the right thing.

“My hard pressed renters should not be put at greater risk of eviction and homelessness amid this coronavirus outbreak.”

He added that mothers have spoken to him with fears over how they will meet rent payments on time.

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In response to the councillor’s request, a Clarion spokeswoman said it recognises the impact that isolation restrictions will have on many of its working households but that it will continue to collect rent.

She added: “We would like to assure residents that we will work with them to identify help available and we would urge residents to contact us to enable us to support and advise them.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to best support our residents to maintain their tenancy through this difficult time.

“We do still have to collect rent during the coronavirus emergency, but can confirm that there will be no evictions in Clarion homes for non-payment of rent during the coronavirus emergency.”

Cllr Deon Burton, who lives on the Orchard Estate, said Clarion’s statement contained “meaningless flim flam”.

“Are unwaged people for month upon month meant to fret, worry and live under the cloud that at the end of this coronavirus period, the landlord will demand they repay a debt they can never afford or be evicted in the future?”

The Recorder has done a number of stories about the estate over the past few years, with residents reporting to us about issues including mould and communal boiler breakdowns.

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