Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Tenancy for life

Posted in: Discussion | Policy forum

13/10/2008 5:47 pm

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Alan Savage

Alan Savage

Posts: 49

13/10/2008 6:45 pm

Go back as many years as you want and social housing rents were historically kept low because it was good vote catcher. As a result, few tenants would be keen to move out of a council estate where they would pay double their usual rent to live under a private landlord. Many people of course would love to move away from a council estate and live elsewhere –but the rents charged by private landlords do not make that possible. And as far as I’m aware, housing benefit only meets a percentage of the cost of someone’s rent if they wanted to live under a private landlord, so again there is no incentive to move. Of course, as history has also shown, council estates have become a power keg for unrest and I dread to think what the social cost of crime is for council estates alone. So from a purely financial aspect it would have made sense to pay housing benefit that matches the rents private landlords charge to enable hard-pressed tenants to move elsewhere and live better lives if that’s what they want to do.

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marty21

marty21

Posts: 67

14/10/2008 9:57 am

it would be incredibly bureaucratic to set up tenancies with rents linked to income, it's bureaucratic enough without adding another layer

the majority of tenants are on HB, there are some who work, there should be incentives for those on higher income to find alternative accommodation.

I lived in a housing association flat in the 1990s, they offered an incentive to move out and buy somewhere, we were both working, so got a grant of £16000 towards buying a place, at the time house prices were low, so it was a worthwhile incentive

currently the only incentive is homebuy which isn't a grant, the tenant gets 25% of the value of a home purchased, this gets repaid when the property is resold. a re-introduction of a grant might encourage those who do have sufficient income to buy on the open market and free up social housing for those who can't afford to buy.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

14/10/2008 2:28 pm

Incentivising tenants to leave in terms of providing a grant would certainly make financial sense. Considering the Housing Corp currently average c£50k a property then even giving £25k to people looking to move, possibly as an equity share but with no obligation to pay interest on this sum at any time would seem to make more sense than some other convaluted measure such as "reviews" - Speaking as a former Housing Manager I was lucky to see 25% of all my residents in total as your time was usually taken up with the "trouble makers" so the idea that you could get round and review the financial position of the other 75% is laughable....

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

15/10/2008 1:59 pm

Tenancy for life or not is THE most controversial issue. Forget asb, arrears, estate mgmt and all else this is THE biggest issue.

Everyone needs and should have security of tenure, whether that be as a tenant or even as a homeowner. The roof over someones head provides stability to live. Yet, should these principles - the right to shelter - be written in stone?

Paretos law as Harry describes is common - 80% of tenants never seen as no need to - it is the 20% of tenants with arrears and estate mgmt problems that consume 100% of housing staff time. Yet, the 80% of 'good' tenants receive no service because of the 'bad' 20%. It is the same 20% that have created the negative impression tenancy has and yet little can be done under the current system of tenancy for life. In effect, the 20% can carry on damaging the peaceful enjoyment- a tenancy enshrined right - of all others. Something has to give.

Why not have revolving 2-year tenancies? The good 80% will automatically be re-issued, the 'bad' 20% will have their tenure reviewed. A negative incentive perhaps but would such an idea as this help the 20% to accept their responsibilities as a tenant, neighbour and membr of society?

The potential sanction of a two-yearly review - would this help reverse negative image of tenancy, help reduce asb, helpin many other ways?

Even if the question of tenancy for life was not brought to the fore because of scarcity of supply, such questions should be addressed. After all, the 20% spoil it for the other 80%.

I'm well aware that majority of the 20% are law abiding and often much of housing staff involvement is due to arrears of which HB complexities and errors are a significant part. So, even accepting that is the 'bad' tenant amount to just 5% they still are spoiling the 95% right to peaceful enjoyment of their property.

This 'greater good' argument has long been used in supported housing where licences can be common to aid stability there. Why should it not be transferred to general needs housing?


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john souray

john souray

Posts: 24

16/10/2008 8:05 am

I think we all – and especially Inside Housing – should stop using the term “tenancy for life”. It is inaccurate, and functions as a nasty smear, redolent of exactly that peevish envy that one of the original protestors commenting on the first CIH story accused people of. The term “job for life” is a sneer at people who can continue to earn large sums of money regardless of performance; and the more recently invented term “tenancy for life” is an attempt to transfer these connotations to social housing tenants, implying that they don’t deserve security of tenure.

In many circumstances, it is a tenancy for more than life, because on the tenant’s death rules of succession mean it may pass to another person – a widow or widower, or even another generation. (The rules are complex: sometimes the full tenancy will pass on, sometimes just the right to a suitable alternative tenancy). These didn’t come about by accident, through some perverse accidental legal judgement. They were designed, incorporated deliberately in the Housing Act 1985, by people who wanted to ensure that social housing tenancies – called Secure tenancies, and for a reason – met the needs of tenants. Not just their current needs, but their future needs; their hopes and ambitions, their ability to make reasonable plans, their desire to provide for their children, and quite possible their wish to live our their days amongst the familiar friends and neighbours of their community.

That is where the anger, disgust and contempt for this proposal comes from. And it isn’t all from tenants either, despite Inside Housing’s summary headline response. Many respondents are clearly housing professionals too; hence all the threats to resign CIH membership. The proposal is to replace a set of tenancy conditions designed to meet the human needs of tenants with one designed to meet the administrative needs of landlords and politicians. Possibly something darker and nastier too: the need of middle class property owners on the lower shakier rungs of the property ladder to continue recruiting – willing or not - new generations of investors to the failing Ponzi scheme called the housing market.

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

16/10/2008 11:56 am

The context of this 'proposal' - the commas specifically there as no concrete proposals have been forthcoming - is akin to yet more kite-flying?

To take John's point further those who may have thought they had a 'job and even home for life' may now need 'social' housing - yet another ingrained term 'social' - after all tenancies relate to people and as much as they may be treated as yet another bricks and mortar rent account, tenants are people with social needs, primarily stability that a house / roof gives.

Just because the south-east (mainly) has a chronic shortage of supply coupled with an increasing demand for housing doesnt mean the rule (law?) book should simply be thrown out with the bathwater.

Yet, whilst this kite-flying 'proposal' will probably not come to fruition, the debate raises many issues around scoial housing that do need addressing - such as how 'social' housing can operate better, how the term 'tenant' can change to not mean second or even third-class citizen and how the tiny minority of 'bad' tenants create a massive one-bad-apple syndrome for the vast majority of 'good' ones.

The enduring legacy of the right-to-buy prevails - a short-term vote winner that has stored up this massive problem of undersupply and over demand - and labelled tenants as third-class citizens in the national psyche.

Instead of further kicking social housing and tenants harder by threatening the removal of security of tenure, the 'great and the good' should be addressing how they can make the model better and include more of those that need it.

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john souray

john souray

Posts: 24

16/10/2008 12:08 pm

"Instead of further kicking social housing and tenants harder by threatening the removal of security of tenure, the 'great and the good' should be addressing how they can make the model better and include more of those that need it."

Exactly. And now - I mean, this month, this week - when even hardboiled conservative economists may be ready to concede there are certain fundamental human needs and priorities that cannot be left to the market, is exactly the moment the social housing profession should be seizing the opportunity to make this case.

Instead of which....

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Rosa Hooses

Rosa Hooses

Posts: 9

16/10/2008 1:47 pm

I don’t believe the CIH proposals are part of some dark plan to prop up the housing market. Even the most staunch defenders of secure tenancies must admit that the current system is not operating fairly. The CIH proposals are just an attempt to deal with the unfairness created by a lack of investment and the Right to Buy… an attempt that will fail because it will just create new winners and losers without addressing the fundamental problem which is a lack of affordable rented stock. John, as many people do, you see the current near-collapse of the financial system as an opportunity for some progressive actions that will improve social provision. Sadly I believe it will have the opposite effect, and the economic situation will soon be used as an excuse to cut social spending and dismantle parts of the welfare state. Then the Ponzi pyramid will start to grow again…

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Inside Housing staff post

Tom Lloyd

Tom Lloyd

Posts: 148

28/10/2008 10:19 am

CIH has posted a letter on its website about the proposals, which might clarify its thinking: http://www.cih.org/policy/TenantOpenLetterOct08.pdf

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

28/10/2008 10:58 am

The CIH inhabit the proverbial cloud cuckoo land. This letter is so ridiculous it is genuinely laughable as this one excerpt proves.

"if someone can easily afford to pay more for their rent then shouldn't we think about asking them to do so - especially if this means we could use the extra income to make someone elses rent cheaper."

So, the CIH want means tested social housing then!! This attempt at explanation of their paper is more risible than the original and shows naivete in the extreme. This is far, far more than the perverse incentive it was labelled by Adam Sampson of Shelter.

Then take the second part of that extract. CIH want to charge Mr Smith more so he can subsidise Mr Jones! Cloud Cuckoo Land is paying this explanation a complement!

What happens if Mr Smith loses his job? Does he rent decrease and then lower paid Mr Jones subsidise him? Or has Mr Smith by paying a higher rent overpaid his account as with some mortgages and can claim a rent free period? Anyone who has ever dealt with arrears or with HB can see the logistical practical nightmare of such a proposal never mind the moral reprehensibility of it.

CIH should focus on a relatively and comparatively simple aim. Make its member landlords provide homes to a decent standard and nothing else. If that aim was achieved all of the 'additional' roles it ascribes to its own remit such as housing providing a stable base for employment, general wellbeing and all others would flow. Rather than insisting upon that it chooses to release pie in the sky and ill-though out proposals seeing itself as some form of (delusional) social pioneer that can change peoples lives.

Or in their terminology if their "desire to see housing as much more than just bricks and mortar" holds good, then ge the bloody bricks and nortar bit right first! Walk before you can run!

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

29/10/2008 0:40 am

Well, yet again is you are a social tenant like me, you have to be outraged by this CIH initiative. This is a real insult to any social tenant. At a time when we all need more security and peace of mind to survive the next day in the current recession the CIH comes out with what I can only think close to a terrorist attack on the most vulnerable in society. And it's all based on a false premise, that social tenants are getting richer and richer and therefore they should pay more for their rents!... What a bullshit!... Someone some time ago protested about the son of someone who had won the lottery had kept on living in his council flat. Suddenly everyone was talking about millionaires prefering to live in a council estate rather than villas, warm climate and sia and beach.... Come on, grow up!... This is an inexistent problem. The far greatest majority of social tenants who are making any money to afford to move out will move out!... If you want for that to happen a little faster, as someone said, give them proper incentives!... Besides you will always get the odd and cranky milllionaire who will chose to die as a social tenant -
but hey! there can't be many of them to worry about.... Besides as a social tenant why should I be getting a good job if it would mean they are going to mess about with my tenancy?... Since the Thatcher era there has been this insidious campaign to devalue social housing and make tenants feel that their home is not their home. this is just another attack do devalue people's lives.... Well, I just hope we tenants can kick these guys in the goolies so hard they never walk again....

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Inside Housing staff post

Tom Lloyd

Tom Lloyd

Posts: 148

30/10/2008 11:45 am

Presumably in the past if tenants became better off, but didn't want to leave their home they could exercise their right to buy. Not sure if anyone would be so keen to do that at the moment though.

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

03/11/2008 1:22 pm

Not a tenant but share Kass' sentiments on how 'social housing' become deiberately synonomous with sink estate / hot bed of crime etc etc. Yet keepgoing back to CIH and their pie in the sky scenarios and kite flying wish lists.

No pun intended but CIH should get their own house in order first - ensuring that decent homes targets produce homes fit for people to live in. If you build poor quality housing, not enough of it, fail to maintain it properly as a landlord or landlord regulator then you're asking for trouble. Get the bricks and mortar right, then the community, then the wider socially inclusive role you claim to seek.

Knee-jerk hypothetical reactions to the latest initiative, having to respond to the latest aspect of 'social housing' is simply closing the door after the horse has bolted. Get the basics right and then build on them. Have homes where people WANT to live and not are forced to accept.

Lobby for the third/ fourth/fifth option on level playing fields tocentral government first and ONLY when thats done talk about wishful intentions. Threaten to take away accreditation of those RSLs that cant meet the standards -even councils if necessary - radical!! - so what? If radical needed and it is stop playing games - games that will go on and on until realcrisi point reached and whole system of social housing fails. Then again if you shy away from such radical issues your just making the already soory state of social housing gradually worse by avoiding doing something.

Only, when social housing is fit to live in will people exercise choice and become a community to keep what they have.

The CIH is living in cloud cuckoo land here - and victimising 'tenants' - a nice easy target rather than using its weight to attack central govt or RSLs -much harder targets when they also fund you - naive sentiment and outrageous policy intentions cant deflect whatyou should be doing and have done for last decade or more

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Ged Quayle

Ged Quayle

Posts: 27

06/11/2008 1:39 pm

Has anyone done any provisional costings for this new Income Police? Are we expected to take on new staff or increase the workload of existing staff? What do we do with tenants who refuse to tell us their income; do we get court orders? Do we have the right to interrogate their tax and NI records? What happens if we discover that they withheld information, do we fine them? Do we claim back-payment? How do we enforce it, do we follow the arrears route? Could this go to eviction? Current arrears departments need to deal with 5%? 10%? of tenant numbers, an Income Enforcement Unit could be dealing with 80, 90, 100% of tenants, a huge staff cost and a huge administrative burden.

Or, here's a radical suggestion, take the money that all that would cost and use it to make a useable grant to the social tenant to springboard them into home ownership. Make it conditional on them having been a good tenant for two? years. No muss no fuss, we get the house back they get a bit of their 'sweat equity' back, their new neighbours get a good neighbour and housebuilders get a sale. Job done.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

07/11/2008 9:25 pm

Ged Quayle, I assume you are working for a social landlord. If it's true you are the first housing worker I hear saying something sensible!... Have you made your ideas known to your co-workers and directors?... Why aren't they putting up a fight for the healthy sane things you say?... As a social tenant I wish you great things in your profession. I strongly hope you become a CEO - preferably mine - London and Quadrant - so you can put in practice your ideas. I would then be allowed to relax, at last....

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

10/11/2008 8:58 am

Kass, just to play devil's advocate somewhat, you're horrified that the CIH question some people's financial situation, with a view to "encouraging" them (through a higher rent) to access market housing, or at least no longer receive a subsidy that their income may indicate they don't really need, and yet you think that Ged's idea to get people out of social housing and into home ownership, thus ending the "tenancy for life" is a great idea?? Not wishing to start a seperate argument, but I think ultimately the CIH are being beaten up over this a bit too much. I think most people are in agreement that some REAL incentives to get those considering a form of home ownership should be encouraged, but with the current situaton of massive demand and no sign of a massive amount of new social housing coming over the hill, is the CIH's challege to the status quo such a bad idea? At no pont have I heard the CIH say at any point they would forcibly end someones tenancy, just that they would get them to pay a more realistic rent. Bob Kerslakes recent comments about diffreent levels of rent in an estate echo this to a degree yet that's only got a very small reaction compared to the flak the CIH have received.......

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

10/11/2008 2:36 pm

CIH deserve the flak as Harry calls it because of what they are advocating.

(a) a means test
(b) a means test that only works one way - if income goes up!
(c) a wholly impractical one in operation - see many points above about practicalities
(d) dont even say where extra money coming from for 'menu of options' - assume councils will fund
(e) most importantly they are inferring social housing to be option of last or even no choice

No-one is doubting - least of all me - that the current system isnt working. It is a case of its bust so fix it. Yet, unfortunate and unworkable and allegedly clarified proposals such as this nonsense are not the way to address those problems. This is ill-thought through headline-grabbing emotive claptrap that CIH knew would misfocus attention.

Because of the clarification letter, CIH has confirmed the inferences it made in the original response. The old saying that its better to let someone think you're incompetent than to open your mouth and confirm it tends to sum this up very accurately.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

11/11/2008 9:31 am

But Joe, the ideas have only been mooted to provoke further discussion, which in itself is no bad thing. The devil will be in the detail (as always) The points about whether means tests would be one way or the other haven't been clarified these were always only outline proposals - I can't really imagine that the change in circumstances wouldn't apply should someones position worsen. As for who would pay for it - presumably the income streams would grow considerably if certain residents are paying anything up to 50-75% more than they currently are. Personally I don't agree with the ending of the security of tenure for ANY resident, but I do believe those that are in a position to pay more, should do so as this should make the further provision of affordable housing easier to deliver.

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

11/11/2008 10:51 am

I dont agree that the ideas have been mooted to promote furher discussion. This is because the ideas were clarified ones, that the CIH took time to explain its position. Its a highly unusual and untypical situation that the CIH takes time to clarify and then publish its position, a very rare occurence from any national agency or body.

Yes the devil is always in the detail and the detail is noticeably absent here. The intentions and aims are there which are all unworkable and impractical.

Subsidies? - Isnt this just another way of saying to tenants that you are very lucky to have a tenancy and so should back off with your expectations in terms of involvement or influence? It may well be the case that tenant are 'lucky' in this regard - even luckier if their home reaces the decency standard!!

Debate is very positive when its focusses upon real issues and not on emotive ones as in this case. Yes the model is brokenand needs drastic action. Unfortunately though the detail also goes there as well and we end up with 2 and 2 becoming 5 - as in yesterdays Times leader. This said there is no need for social housing at all. It conveniently missed the point on vulnerable groups such as those fleeing DV that it missed completely. It also highly conveniently omitted to say anything about right to buy and how million and more council houses were taken out of the model...and then went on to say two million on waiting list! In short the danger of the CIH position becoming mainstream has already happened.

Its the old strategy that CIH knew would happen - tell a lie often enough and people believe it - that will influence policy decisions. It reinforces false prejudices and false positions and will lead to false hope for changeand the outcomes wanted.

One other point on that. It was also mooted that council house be tied to a willingness to work. Strange how 'unemployment' was always a charge thrown at govt to do something about. Change its name to 'worklessness' - the latest buzzword and the psyche behind not working becomes a label and problem for the individual.

To wit - if your not working its your own fault: if you're a tenant its your own fault too!! CIH has knowingly, labelled tenants the lowest of the low here and create this perception of stigma that will never go away - It seems tenants are now to blame for poor housing stock as well as ALL anti-social activity and crime that goes on in their locale - a very easy target for CIH.

Im not a tenant and usually forthright that tenants have far too many expectations and dont realise how lucky they are in terms of cheap housing. Yet for CIH to label them in this way which then leads to front page articles in Times and influences the general public perception negatively an even influences govt policy is way, way too far. Its more a witchhunt than debate

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nicolas goss

nicolas goss

Posts: 6

11/11/2008 2:17 pm

the proposal is typical of a certain element in social housing that thinks in terms of units of accommodation rather than remembering that they are talking about people's homes and the community they are living in.

talk in commentary about "bad" tenants forgets/ignores that a lot of these in rent arrears are sad inadequates who need the support.

it is a pity that Malcolm overturned Novacold as these it had helped in mandatory were normally not completely beyonf=d help and we do not want to increase the potential for a revolving door

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nicolas goss

nicolas goss

Posts: 6

11/11/2008 2:18 pm

the proposal is typical of a certain element in social housing that thinks in terms of units of accommodation rather than remembering that they are talking about people's homes and the community they are living in.

talk in commentary about "bad" tenants forgets/ignores that a lot of these in rent arrears are sad inadequates who need the support.

it is a pity that Malcolm overturned Novacold as these it had helped in mandatory were normally not completely beyonf=d help and we do not want to increase the potential for a revolving door

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Ged Quayle

Ged Quayle

Posts: 27

11/11/2008 4:48 pm

Having had rent arrears myself in my youth I'm not sure describing me as a "sad inadequate" endears you to me Nicolas :) It will create ghettoes and stigmatise housing association tenancies for decades to come, of course it will, it's obvious that will; how can anyone with a shred of vision or foresight believe otherwise?

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

12/11/2008 9:00 am

So you don't think that "tenancies for life" haven't already created ghettoes and you don't think that social housing is stigmatised? As a housing professional myself I can name about 4 sink estates in this city that effectively are low income ghettoes and equally I think every homeowner who buys a property, one of the questions that is often asked (and nearly every colleague agrees with me) is "are there any council houses (sic) nearby?" Ironically I bought my house next door to a RSL property and my neighbour's great as the vast majority are, however I'm not on an estate and the stigma and problems still remain in many places.

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Brian Capaloff

Brian Capaloff

Posts: 6

12/11/2008 9:51 am

And, Harry Lime, writing here 'as a housing professional myself', do you think that encouraging (or forcing) people to move out of their secure council tenancy, thus ensuring that these sink estates consist solely of those tenants on low incomes/benefits, will further the cause of eradicating such sink estates? I suspect the answer is that we might see an increase rather than a decrease of such estates.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

12/11/2008 10:24 am

The reality is that most people who can afford to buy a property themselves will do so, rather than think of the "good of the community" by staying where they are, so encouraging or otherwise by the CIH will do little to lessen that. As a pop quiz how many housing professionals do you know still reside in RSL or HA properties? - in my current office of 8 there are none and in previous roles and offices I can think of barely a handful that do so, obviously in places such as London that will differ. So the idea that this will hasten the demise of areas is a little remiss, as people often move when they can anyway. I think everyone acknowledges that there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing and the CIH have simply suggested something that would possibly help cross subsidise future housing through the higher income streams from those who will pay more and stay, whilst those who decide to move on will free their property up for others. The fact that this may cause estates to further decline is an issue for government policy and the pressure the "needs based" criteria does little to create the sustained communities we all want. Young couple earning £30k joint? - very little chance of getting a tenancy with a RSL - you get sent down the privately rented route, paying "gasp" similar amounts the CIH suggest -at least the CIH suggestion would help these estates mix the tenure and income levels - left as it is, those that can afford to move out of an estate will and a low income, benefit claimant will (generally) take their place. Whilst I don't agree with all the CIH suggestions, at least they're challenging the status quo.....

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

12/11/2008 10:35 am

Two and two have become five here.

The proposal clarified in the CIH letter only applies to new tenancies and not to existing ones. To attempt to apply 'reviews' to existing tenants with secure tenancies would (surely?) have to involve an agreed variation to the existing tenancy contracts held by tenants, who, if they have any sense would obviously reject such approaches.

And before we forget, introductory tenancies can be offered already in certain circumstances as well, so these are already available as options.

Yet, the problem of not enough properties still continues. It is projected that 170,000 new units become available each year and given that around 100,000 homeless and hence priority cases each year - that is likely to rise with the credit crunch - the scarcity of 'social' housing becomes apparent.

But, more important, is the stigma attached and poor quality of social housing. The acutely negative perception of it - in some cases merited- that abounds. In simple terms the current models are not working and require radical thought and action.

Bringing back empty homes, even re-nationalising RTB sales - the major cause of the current scarcity - should be looked at (if we can nationalise banks.....then re-nationalising RTBs not that far fetched). Getting all social rented housing up to the decency standard as well are all examples of what should be being debated and yes, even tenancies for life or not.

Mixed communities - nice theory but not taken off. Part rent part buy - is similar good theory but not in practice. Why - peception of rented housing has been portrayed as option of last resort and joe public doesnt want to go there being a clear underlying theme. If any of these nice 'theoretical' models want to be achieved just what the **** is the CIH doing by labelling social rented housing as Hobson's Choice? Its no good saying offer tenants all the options if you decry what those options are underpinned by!

To simply label tenancies as the option of last resort, to label tenants as workless / workshy and to not (at times be able) to put invstment into making just the physical environment acceptable, are all far too easy options. Quick and shameful fixes wont work - in fact they are likely to make the situation worse by just delaying radical actions for another day.

Similarly, to simply extrapolate the London / South East dynamic of severe scarcity and apply that as national policy aint going to work either. Yet such parochial thinking has been the typical approach taken by central government housing ministers for far too long.

The removal of security of tenure is in my view a smokescreen, albeit an emotive one, designed to attract the attention away from some radical proposals due shortly. The labelling of tenants and tenancies is a dangerous line however, that will prevent any reasonable solutions to the obvious (and overriding?) problem of scarcity - the need to make rented accommodation 'acceptable' and fit for purpose has to come first to change this overwhelming view of option of last choice. Until that is removed ....

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

13/11/2008 10:24 am

Whether the devil is in the details or in the (considerable dim) brains of CIH directors there is ONLY one message that is getting through out of this initative of theirs, that my home as social tenant, whether on benefit or not, whether working or not, is UNDER THREAT!... CIH might go on and on asking me to read this and that document, this or that policy, WELL IT is not going to change THIS MESSAGE... Social tenants, like all other citizens, are not stupid. The CIH has undermined our already precarious sense of belonging somehwere.... If the CIH wants to offer challenges to the status quo they have got to have the leadership and the imagination to create, reinforce and inspire social tenants not to put them under psychological terror siege. CIH are nothing but antisocial Housing thugs.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

14/11/2008 10:02 am

There seems to be some misinformation here, I'm quoting from the initial Inside Housing article where it says "The paper suggests that tenants should move out of their homes or face rent increases if their circumstances improve. " To me that reads as you maintain your right to your tenancy, and therefore your security, providing you pay a rent that is relative to your financial position. If you don't need to receive a subsidised rent in some way shape or form, why should you receive one? The extra income could bring forward more housing. Nowhere have I read that they will forcibly evict people, just that those who refuse to pay an increased rent will not have their tenancy extended. Personally I'm not going to shed too many tears for someone on a good wage who refuses to pay their way.

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

14/11/2008 10:18 am

Perhaps someone can square this circle?

If a social tenant on an alleged subsidised rent is allowed (a) to buy their property and (b) buy it at a substantial discount, then why is a private tenant who allegedy pays more in rent not allowed the right to buy at allnever mind at a significant discount??

Surely rewarding those who have allegedly been subsidised by the public purse and not 'rewarding' those that have not is a chronic distortion of the same principle?

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

14/11/2008 1:23 pm

to answer Harry Lime about rich, well paid working social tenants who should be paying higher rent -
I really would like to know some stats here:
How many are they nationally?
What is the definition/minimum limit of higher wage, £800 pw? How many social tenants nationally earn that much?
And while we are at it why don't we check all social tenants savings and find out how many of them, both working and pensioners have savings above £200,000 and make them pay higher rents because of that? Why any social tenants pensioner or working with that amount of savings be allowed to get away with paying a social rent?

And then tell me why social tenants should aspire to higher jobs if it ends up in being penalized in paying more rent than the next door tenant who never made any effort at finding a job?
Why should social tenants save any money if they will be punished with higher rent than next door who never saved anything?

I agree people with more money should pay more to the state... But there are other millions of ways of doing so. Doing it because they are they are guilty of being social tenants (with majority of them needy and on benefit) - is not going to inspire people in getting out but in remaining poor.

If you want to move out people from social tenancies and fre them fvor even needier people All you got to do is create good, lasting jobs, accessible priced housing market, plus incentives to buy - in this order - and then you'll see real change. If the CIH see themselves as not just 'delivering free housing' those are the priorities the should follow and not create a climate of terror for ALL social tenants.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

14/11/2008 1:35 pm

Climate of terror how Kass? As mentioned no one is going to force anyone to end their tenancies, just that if someone is capable of paying more they should, thus making more money available for the future supply of housing. If your circumstances don't change there's no reason to think that your tenancy, or the right to extend it would change. As for people not being "bothered" to get a job I'd assume people with such a regressive mindset would probably not be getting very well paid jobs anyway which I'd imagine would not require them to pay any extra in rent to what they currently get. If people are so small minded as to obsess about the person next door rather than their own situation then I don't hold out much hope for them anyway. As for people with assets of over £200k paying more, absolutely, why not? Social housing at some point is borne out of a subsidy, whether that's zero land cost at time of building or a rent that differs from what would be levied on the open market people residing within them receive that benefit. Not for a minute do I think the vulnerable shouldn't feel secure in their properties, but at no point have the CIH actually mentioned that they would end those people's tenancies - can anyone tell me where they have? It just seems like people have gone off the deep end on this......

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Ged Quayle

Ged Quayle

Posts: 27

14/11/2008 1:46 pm

Is this the 'subsidy' you keep banging on about? The rents are non-profit? Harry that's not a subsidy and it's wrong to call it one. In fact it's offensive; you're implying that social tenants who find work and continue to live in the house that they've lived in and maintained for years are spongers for... well, living in the house they've lived in and maintained for years. Because they have the temerity to rent from a landlord with no shareholders. If you have any affection or respect for your tenants Harry you're hiding it well.

And I haven't forgotten your point about initial grant, whether monetary or land. That wasn't a handout, it was an investment in the housing association's ability to regenerate their areas. An investment which has paid for itself many times over. Social tenants aren't subsidised, they're simply not at the same mercy of a profit driven rental system as private ones. It's a pity that you and your colleagues are owner-occupiers, speaking as you are from remove.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

14/11/2008 1:52 pm

So you think it'd be better if I lived in an RSL property when I can afford to live elsewhere and therefore relieve any pressure on a massively oversubscribed model? I'm no longer in an operational role (which you're probably glad to hear!) but at all times tenants are ultimately my main concern and their welfare. My points merely reflect my belief that generally those that can afford to pay more, should. I'm not saying peope should move out and I believe in mixed communities, I live in one myself. As for the subsidy point I still maintain that anything that deviates a rent from being what it would be under normal market conditions, and when occupaton of said properties is controlled via waiting list or points based CBL, then those living there are receiving a benefit, through lower rents than others who are not eligible - to my mind, that's a subsidy.

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Ged Quayle

Ged Quayle

Posts: 27

14/11/2008 3:17 pm

I'm sorry Harry but that's not a subsidy, that's non-profit and creating the fallacy that people are being subsidised will create an entirely unfounded resentment, a division between those who believe themselves (wrongly) to be subsidising and those they (wrongly) believe are being subsidised. If anything the converse is true; why are private rents so much higher than social rents when we know that social rents are economically viable? Could it be profit? More money being taken from tenants than needs to be? A subsidy to landlords...

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Brian Capaloff

Brian Capaloff

Posts: 6

14/11/2008 4:36 pm

I must admit to having hated the Housing Finance and Development part of my Housing qualification, so I may have this wrong here, but isn't the Housing Revenue Account, and therefore the costs of managing the whole of the housing service related to the tenancies themselves, paid for through the rents received (i.e. the HRA does what it says on the tin, being from housing revenue!). On this basis, aren't the tenants themselves paying for the costs of the service they receive through their rents and those who are on a lower income receiving a benefit to subsidise their rent? If this is so (and I stand to be corrected), higher rents would result in those people having to pay it subsidising the service themselves. They would still receive the same accommodation, with the same service, but would see their rent benefitting the service elsewhere. Where is the equity in that?

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

14/11/2008 6:36 pm

IT's been said elsewhereby someone better informed than me that social tenants rents incomes are not entirely used for social housing. Infact there's a tenants demand than 17 billions coming from social housing rents be ringfenced for social housing and new social housing instead of being diverted elsewhere... So please stop all the babble about susbsidy for social tenants - i pay a fair rent, calculated on the basis of housing disponibility which is determined by the market... That private landlord should get away with inflationary rents is a crime which no government agency is curbing - and it also makes my fair rent go higher... No one is giving me any subsidy as a social tenant... One good thing about all this debate is that social tenants are becoming more and more aware of the value of their homes and more prepared to fight to defend them... So come on, roll on next iniatitive attacking social tenants! We're ready.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

17/11/2008 8:59 am

Sorry to sound like a raving capitalist, but there has to be a profit involved in order to get private landlords providing a crucial role in supplying rented properties that the current model doesn't fulfill - on our waiting list approx 10,000 on there currently rent privately. Where would they go if there weren't private rents? Trying to cap or limit rents would result in many landlords leaving the sector, yes others would buy the homes but that's still potentially 10,000 people presenting themselves as homeless, assuming they can't buy the places. The amount of that that might be profit varies - many landlords have bought relatively recently and as such might be losing money on occasion, similarly others may have had to pay out amounts for repairs and maintenance. Of course there will be those milking the system, and neglecting tenants, but name me an aspect of the welfare state that isn't abused by few, or many for that matter. My point about the HRA was that whilst money from it is diverted elsewhere in the public purse - the vast majority of the billions going in there in the first place also come from the public purse, in the form of Housing Benefits, whilst it would be great if all that stayed in the sector, indirectly it does anyway - where does the Housing Corp get it's money from? - I'd define that as the public purse as well.......

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Brian Capaloff

Brian Capaloff

Posts: 6

17/11/2008 9:35 am

I thought we were talking here about the suggestion that public landlords should have the right to reassess the tenancy agreements of their tenants every few years in order to grab some of the wage that they have earned, in the form of higher rent and thereby (my argument, as with the argument of many others against this unbelievable suggestion), encourage the growth of ghetto estates. Discussing the private sector and the property motive, whilst worthy of discussion elsewhere, is a smoke screen for the mutual backscratching between the Government and the CIH.

Some people on a low income who could not otherwise pay their rents receive a benefit which is paid for through the public purse - I would hope that anyone who is in any way connected to the housing profession would not be against this 'subsidy' Those who would be affected by the Government/CIH proposals do not receive a subsidy when they pay their rent (as is my understanding). The proposals would result in them, the tenants on a living wage, subsidising the service - again, I would ask where is the equity in that?

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Ged Quayle

Ged Quayle

Posts: 27

17/11/2008 10:32 am

There's a reason fair rents are called fair. The HRA covers costs, future development and CEO salaries and has done successfully for decades. Hiking the price after the customer has bought is just shoddy business. Trying to do so by implying that hard working, rent paying tenants are spongers is just downright offensive. Of course if HAs were allowed to charge a profit driven rent then that would drive up average rents for the area and increase the reference rent. Watch the HB bill shoot up then.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

17/11/2008 12:02 pm

Well, Harry Lime, the self-confessed raving capitalist, saying that control on private renting would bring about 10,000 homeless people... Exactly, that's why money has to be ringfenced to social and new social housing. If this policy of reinvesting in and building new social housing would have been pursued non-stop and progressively year after year we would not be in the situation in which private landlords can blackmail the governement in saying either we charge the rents we like to charge or you have 10,0000 people homeless. And the rents they charge, obviously are the highest they can get - squeezing them from the public purse Harry Lime so much like to defent because a lot of private tenants are also in housing benefit. So why the public purse should pay twice to a private landlord than me as a social tenant in the same type of accomodation?... Is not that double money wasted for single benefit?... Private landlords have a right to make a profit of course. But this is not profit anymore now is fully blwon specualtion.... And they can speculate becuase government after governement have closed themselves in this cul the sac by not developing a progressive social housing poclicy. It's urgent all this is reversed and a massive programme of social housing undertaken - we are still in time - to avoid the collapse in which the only ones to gain will be a handful of speculators.

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Harry Lime

Harry Lime

Posts: 164

17/11/2008 12:09 pm

But wouldn't such a major programme of social housing bring about the "ghettoes" that so many are claiming the CIH proposals would cause? In the current market you certainly wouldn't find any developer wanting to take on the risk of having open market properties for sale, the only thing developers are interested in talking to me about are 100% rented schemes, which on the whole we are rejecting because they don't produce mixed communities - it's simply not as simple as just "building" hunderds of thousands of new social property, a great deal of thought has to go into it to ensure you don't get monotenure nightmares. The CIH proposals and Bob Kerslakes are making an attempt to get the discussion started. Simply saying build more social housing as social rented, fair rented or however you'd like to term it, will come back to bite us in 5,10,15 yars when the churn of tenants has taken place and no one wants to live there.

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

17/11/2008 12:37 pm

I am far from being an apologist for the PSLs but we need to move away from the 'public good, private bad' starting point as well. To emphasise that point is the only reason private landlords are there in the first place simply because there is a need for more housing? Or, if there was enough social housing then the so-called 'speculators' wouldnt enter the market would they?

One final point is the London / South East dynamic that is not prevalent in the rest of the country. There isnt a huge disparity between public and private rent levels.

I tend to agree with Harry above on this but excepting his comments over mixed communities. As I stated earlier, if all social rented housing is perceived as the option of last choice - and the CIH are doin their best to portray it that way! - then why would prospective owner occupiers mortgage a property on a mixed development? I doubt they would and the more the CIH and others decry tenants and tenancies the less likey they are to buy as well.

One last point on public / private cost. I was engaged by a council (oop North!) many years ago to look at dispersal / reception of asylum seekers. The council took my advice and went 100% with private landlords for amongst others reasons, (a) their property standard was better than its own, and (b) it worked out much cheaper - and I mean much cheaper.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

17/11/2008 3:54 pm

look, i think most people in this forum (and others) are intelligent people. If I say something like the government should embark in a huge social housing programme - do i mean it should do so recklessly, not giving a s*** about any other consideration? To do it the Statlinist way?... Give me a break! Or do you expect me here to write a gigabyte proposal here sayng how it should be done?... Saying that social housing programmes end up in a disaster of a sort or another - it's just nonsense. For a start, even the present situation the great majority of tenants are happy in their accomodations. For any social housing programme big or small It all depends how it is done and by whom it is done and for whom it is done, etc. etc. As long as people involved are passionate in creating a better and fairer society for all I am sure the the results will good ones... As far as private rents being cheaper in the north than in the southeast I cannot comment as I do not know the north. But you try to rent a private flat in London and I can tell you it will cost you at least three times than one from a RLS. People on benefit in London renting privately are paying enormous amounts compared to their social landlords counterparts. All maoney which could be saved if there were in place new social housing programmes i was talking about... Well, it makes sense to me anyway.

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Ged Quayle

Ged Quayle

Posts: 27

17/11/2008 4:33 pm

The crux of this argument would seem to be that housing association tenants in work should pay more because they're being subsidised. They're not. Or they should pay more because it's 'fair'. It isn't. Or that building more HA homes would require planning. Well yes, but that's hardly news is it, and any large scale construction needs that. Are we suggesting that we should never build social housing because of the lack of, oh I don't know, urban planners? It’s claimed that creating large newbuild developments would create 'monotenure nightmares'. Driving out the higher income and more economially active tenants would do that surely? Stigmatising social tenants as either spongers or scroungers would do that very nicely. In my primary area, far from London, the disparity between our and private rents is approximately 100%. Yet our bills are paid and our properties are Decent Homes standard, which is more than can be said for a lot of private landlords. But then we haven't committed to large buy to rent programmes, we're not faced with gaping holes in our bottom lines and we're not looking about for ways to raise a quick bit of extra cash in a hurry. And we're not libelling our tenants to do it.

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Joe Halewood

Joe Halewood

Posts: 247

17/11/2008 7:06 pm

Ged makes two significant points that I have to agree with

1. HA tenants are not subsidsied
2. Working tenants should not have to pay more

Point 1 is a matter of fact that has been correctly proven above. Point 2 is of course a subjective opinion - yet as has been argued successfully above,is or would be a nightmare of a proposal in practical operational terms that would also require legal consents and legal changes.

Why have we come to this? Simply because huge errors have been committed in housing policy in the past - the RTB / RTA that perversely only applies to social housing not private rented. The unwillingness of successive govts to allow local govt to invest in and build more social housing. Its no good simply stating lets take a lessons learned approach (that typical euphemism for ok we cocked up in the past lets not go back there!)

All of these cock ups have create the situation in which PSLs enter the markrt and charge higher rents. But that is not the problemeither. The CIH proposal to stop tenancies for life is also not the issue.

The issue is a chronc shortage of available socially rented accommodation. Within that is massive pockets of housing where no-one wants to live, and unlike Ged's area plenty of socially rented stock that is highly unlikely to meet the decent homes standard. Then add the environment of a recession and uncertainty and we have a pigs ear of a mess.

Its going to need some very radical solutions to address the chronic shortage, yet one that should be thrown out post haste is this CIH shameful proposal. I cannot see any solution to the shortage of available socially rented housing that includes the CIH labelling that option as the option of no choice. Any solution needs to incorporate tenancies as a viable option, somewhere that people want to live and not forced to accept - but that is the basis and reality of the CIH proposal.

Was it Kass that mentioned Stalinism??

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27/11/2008 4:46 pm

'tenancy for life' can mean a number of things to a number of people.

Personally I think people who earn above a certain threshold should not be entitled to council housing and given the shortage of council homes should be asked to either pay more rent or go find some where else to live.

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Brian Capaloff

Brian Capaloff

Posts: 6

28/11/2008 9:21 am

That's a useful contribution, Camden tenant, with the logical conclusion being the creation of estates in which aspiration ultimately leads to the breakdown of communities. A society to be looked forward to, where those who move up the career ladder are ultimately forced out of their home. And as we reach the occasional economic slump and those people who have been encouraged to/pushed out of their secure home lose their jobs they get welcomed back onto an endless waiting list, because groups such as the CIH played the government's own game rather than got their priorities right by campaigning for new housing, which everyone with the vaguest interest in housing need can see is the absolute priority.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

28/11/2008 10:50 am

camden tenant, get your facts right, because it is people with clouded facts like you that create cliches about rich social tenants which have no solid foundation whatsoever. for a start no one who is working (or not) and having an income high enough to afford private renting is entitled to any new social tenancy let alone a tenancy for life. New Tenancies are given only to priority people on housing lists which are worked out in terms of needs of the applicant. Most new social tenants are homeless people who cannot afford anyh other accomodation with their own means... You might well come across to some scam, and I am sure there are, where someone who shoulnd't get it is given a social tenancy, but scams are everywhere and it's up to those in charge to detect them... Besides new tenancies for life - and by that I mean secury tenancies - do not exist anymore. they have been abolished for new tenants... We should all campaign for secure tenancies to be given to any tenant who has been living for a certain period in the same property (let's say 4 years - same time you need to get British citizenship). As I said before if people social tenants or not get better jobs or richer - there are millions of other ways for the state to get more money off them. They can also be given incentives to buy or move into private properties - but without ever forcing them to do so directly or indirectly. At the end of the day wherever you are and whoever you are you should have a roof upon your head.

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28/11/2008 3:18 pm


Kass what are the 'facts' that I should be getting right? I didn't actually state any 'facts' I simply gave my opinion, which obviously isn't to your liking.

With all due respect, the problem with tenants like you (who have no real argument based on facts), and we have a few of them in camden who bully other tenants, is that you don't have the intelligence to come up with arguments based on fact, reason and logic so you resort to bullying other tenants to get your mindless points across.

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kass

kass

Posts: 629

28/11/2008 3:55 pm

camden tenant, get your facts right, because it is people with clouded facts like you that create cliches about rich social tenants which have no solid foundation whatsoever. for a start no one who is working (or not) and having an income high enough to afford private renting is entitled to any new social tenancy let alone a tenancy for life. New Tenancies are given only to priority people on housing lists which are worked out in terms of needs of the applicant. Most new social tenants are homeless people who cannot afford anyh other accomodation with their own means... You might well come across to some scam, and I am sure there are, where someone who shoulnd't get it is given a social tenancy, but scams are everywhere and it's up to those in charge to detect them... Besides new tenancies for life - and by that I mean secury tenancies - do not exist anymore. they have been abolished for new tenants... We should all campaign for secure tenancies to be given to any tenant who has been living for a certain period in the same property (let's say 4 years - same time you need to get British citizenship). As I said before if people social tenants or not get better jobs or richer - there are millions of other ways for the state to get more money off them. They can also be given incentives to buy or move into private properties - but without ever forcing them to do so directly or indirectly. At the end of the day wherever you are and whoever you are you should have a roof upon your head.

THE ABOVE IS WHAT I SAID

BELOW IS WHAT YOU REPLIED

Fri, 28 Nov 2008 15:18 GMT

Kass what are the 'facts' that I should be getting right? I didn't actually state any 'facts' I simply gave my opinion, which obviously isn't to your liking. With all due respect, the problem with tenants like you (who have no real argument based on facts), and we have a few of them in camden who bully other tenants, is that you don't have the intelligence to come up with arguments based on fact, reason and logic so you resort to bullying other tenants to get your mindless points across.

BELOW IS WHAT I SAY

camden tenant, if what I say above is mindless... on the other hand what you say is highly admirable. I am not in the business of giving prizes but I might just propose you for the Nobel for services to the housing community - or lacking which I might ask the Queen to consider you for a Knighthood... I got to add that last one is the most likely for your even thought there have been some people who (shock and horror!) have refused it.


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