Havering Council could force more than 600 residents to move out of Havering
- Credit: Archant
More than 600 Havering residents could be forced to move out of the borough after the council decided to give their homes back to private landlords.
The council is conducting a review on all Private Sector Leasing (PSL) tenants in a bid to save money, and claims it doesn’t have a responsibility to find tenants new housing.
Figures from the government show that last year 668 people were living in PSL housing in Havering, and the council has refused to reveal how many people will be affected by the changes.
PSL properties are ones that are owned by private landlords, but are managed by the council - and so far more than 50 residents have contacted the Recorder to say that they received letters and phone calls asking them to arrange a meeting with a council officer to discuss their rehousing options.
Following these meetings/phone calls tenants have been told that the council will be handing their property back to its owner, and that they will have to find somewhere else to live within a matter of weeks.
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If residents and their families can’t find somewhere to live in the borough - within the housing allowance given to them by the council - then the council has offered some of them alternative housing outside of Havering - which they could be forced to accept or risk being declared voluntarily homeless.
Colchester, Margate, Harlow, Brentwood and Chelmsford are among the places that residents have been told they could have to move to.
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Some have been told that they have less than 28 days to find new accommodation.
For a one bed shared house, Havering’s local housing allowance gives tenants £336.32 a month - for a family of four (two adults, two children) the allowance is £1084.88.
A quick search on online property finder Rightmove shows that on average a three bedroom house in Havering is around £1,200 a month.
Mum-of-two, Leah Backhurst, 26, of Hainault Road, Romford, is one of the residents who has been told to find alternative accommodation, and received a letter from the council which said: “Under s.189B of the Housing Act 1996 - the council has a duty to take reasonable steps over the next 56 days, to help you to secure accommodation.
“This does not mean it is the council’s responsibility to secure accommodation for you, but we will offer to help you through various measures, including personalised advice and, where possible by providing a rent deposit or bond guarantee.”
Leah said: “I have two children who are both at school and moving out of the borough would cause a lot of stress for them.”
“I have lived in Havering my whole life, my partner has a job here and I don’t want to move. Why should I have to move?”
Paris Allison, 23, of Farm Road, Rainham, lives with her mum, Tracey, 52 and they have been in a PSL property for two years. Paris is worried about her mum’s health if they have to move.
“My mum has clinical depression and various other medical conditions, and I am worried that she is not going to be able to live if we are forced to move.
“We found out everything through Facebook, why didn’t the council tell us properly?
“She has all her support networks here and she has spoken about committing suicide.
“I am up in the air, I just don’t know what to do.”
Samantha Coggins, 37, of Orchis Way, Harold Hill, lives with her nine-year-old daughter, and has been in a PSL property since 2009.
She said that the council has given her 28 days to find a new home, and is worried that her only option is to accept a move outside of the borough.
She suffers from depression and anxiety and said: “I have got a lot going on and they don’t seem to care.
“We’re settled here, why should we have to move?
“I just think it’s dreadful the way that the council have dealt with it” said the Harold Hill mum.
The council had previously told the Recorder that it commenced a review of the circumstances of people living in temporary accommodation - and that it would be in contact with anybody that was effected by this.
A spokesman said: “This review is part of a new programme to ensure we are fully aware of the circumstances of individuals and that we are complying with our statutory obligations.
“The council is continuing to look at a whole range of different housing solutions for residents who find themselves homeless in these difficult times for the Housing market and whilst the council endeavours to manage with its budgetary pressures.”
Councillor Keith Darvill said that he was disappointed with the lack of information passed on by the council to ward councillors, and was planning on raising the issue at the next full council meeting next week.
He said: “I am very disappointed that the council did not inform the ward councillors that this review was about to take place and the information behind it.
“Councillors need to be aware of the details of this review and the reasons why the review is taking place.”
The Recorder has set up a Facebook group for PSL tenants who are worried about what has been happening and would like to speak to residents.
If you live in PSL housing in Havering and have been in touch with the council please contact Liam Coleman on 0208 477 3826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We have also set up a Facebook group to keep tenants updated, to request to join follow this link.