Yobs with Dogs: Another "needs" based allocation outcome
20/08/2009 0:39 am
Another totally expected story from an Inner London borough with 48% "social" (sic) housing allocated under the wonderful "needs" based allocation system:
10 pitbulls are seized in 'puppy farm' raid
19 August 2009
TEN pitbull terriers have been seized by police in a "dangerous dog" raid - including nine pups that could be worth thousands of pounds.
Around 15 police officers swooped on a suspected "puppy farm" in a ground-floor flat in Avenell Road, Highbury, just after 7am last Wednesday.
They found a three-week old litter of nine pit bulls and their adult mother.
The owner was unable to control the adult pitbull during the commotion and an expert handler from the Metropolitan Police's new Status Dogs Unit was bitten on the arm as the adult dog launched an attack to protect its pups.
The officer, who asked not to be identified, said: "The owner has wound the dog up and not got it on a lead. It was getting ready to lock its jaw but I managed to get it off."
Police also found substances thought to be cannabis and crack cocaine and two top-of-the range bicycles believed to be stolen.
They were acting on a tip-off from a builder employed by Islington Council, who claimed he was attacked by the dog as he carried out repairs at the flat last month.
Officers say the puppies - worth between £700 and £800 each - would probably have been bought by criminals to be used in organised dog fights or for protection and intimidation by drug dealers.
Sergeant Dean Akinola, who set up Operation Bark last month to target a rise in dog attacks in Islington, said breeding pitbulls was "a nice little earner" for people who are "probably on benefits".
He said: "Some of the dogs are forced to have several litters. The owners breed them to fight and for protection. I know of a drug dealer on my ward [Hillrise] who's using them for protection and intimidation, trained to his command."
It is not known whether the seized adult pitbull terrier will be destroyed. The fate of all 10 dogs will be decided in court.
Sergeant Akinola said: "It's a bit of a grey area. The dog is a banned breed but if the owner gets it chipped, neutered and insured and it's kept on a muzzle, he can keep it. However it's unlikely he can keep eight pups. It's entirely up to the court."
The Status Dogs Unit was joined by a specialist break-in team for the raid, as well as by community police officers and uniformed police from Highbury East Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
Inspector Andy Mariner, who is in charge of Safer Neighbourhoods Teams in the north of the borough, said: "It's surprising the limited knowledge of officers when it comes to dangerous dogs. But now Dean's pushing the message out with Operation Bark, Islington is top of the game. We
Sort: Newest first | Oldest first
28/08/2009 1:44 pm
Correction Marty21. Social tenants in homes with communal areas do pay service charges, within their rent. Some of the service charges levied are not eligible for housing benefit, in the same way as water charges, and have to be paid regardless of the financial position of the tenant. Leaseholders in blocks with a large proportion of social tenants may actually benefit financially because of the proportion of service charge met through the rents.
Another point that is missed by leaseholders in relation to service charges is that freeholders also have to pay for roof and structural repairs. It is all part of the responsibility of ownership.
I believe that the source of some of the angst is that prior to becomming leaseholders through right-to-buy their was a blindspot about the level of service provided via the rent, thus after purchase there was an expectation to continue to get the same services for 'free'.
Whether you are a tenant, and leaseholder, or a freeholder, repairs and maintenance are not free. Those who believe that tenants get free repairs are wrong, neither the tax payer nor the tooth fairy picks up the bill. In fact, a considerable portion of the rental payments collected fund communal items such as grass cutting, pavements etc - as a result, freeholders receive these services for free, so who is carrying who?
This still has nothing to do with dogs however.
My social tenant neighbour has just purchased a Staffie (no stereotypical comments please). The family keep their home in good order, tidy their garden, are pleasant and considerate, and their dog is well behaved and cared for. Am I just uncommonly lucky to have a positive experience of having social tenants, and their dogs, living near me?
28/08/2009 1:54 pm
C Webb, you are not unique. I am a leaseholder on a mixed tenure estate and have absolutely no issues with social tenants on the estate. Yes, the kids run around and make noise outside, but they are kids and I'm not a narrow minded curtain twitcher, so there are no problems.
28/08/2009 1:58 pm
Correction - Service charges have to be itemised separately from the net or core rent. These are eithr fixed or variable in anture and tenants (and I presume leaseholders too) have to be sent a statement yearly that corresponds to the actual levels - the set fixed or variable service charges being an estimate. If tenants (and again prsumably leaseholders) dont receive such a statement then they have recourse against their landlord.
The area is also more complex as some service charges in some properties that are seemingly ineligible under HB regulations can become and are eligible for HB if they exceed the scale rates set down for them.
02/09/2009 0:44 am
Seem to have drifted of topic here thanks to Marty21's sideways shift into questions of service charges which are not the topic of discussion here. Although what binds the residential RTB leaseholder and that endangered species, the working, non-benefit claiming social tenant, together is actually the service charge issue. Both tenures types now pay service charges. Thanks to widespread and long overdue unpooling of service charges, working tenants are querying housing management performance and billing. That said, unpooled service charges for tenants are still subsidised by HRA mechanisms with weekly services for tenants still being around half the same charge for leaseholders in some boroughs. Despite receiving the same services. The long awaited dismantling of the HRA should hopefully lead to the long awaited parity between annual service charges for tenants and RTB leaseholders, thereby encouraging working tenants to pressure housing management to up their game and provide value for money. However one factor will drive against such parity. And that factor is needs based allocation. As it is all but impossible for working tenants to get allocated a flat under the present system. As they do not have enough "need" to get one. Any system that "concentrates poverty and deprivation" (as the lefties and other followers of the NeoMarxist engrain-politics-in-language cult of Antonio Gramsci would say) in this way clearly cannot be sustainable. It generates a something-for-nothing culture. It is neither in the interest of working tenants, the older generation of Merit allocated tenants or the residential RTB leaseholder.
Jo's issue about what to do about the EPPTs is valid of course. Dealing with the supine judiciary who refuse to grant a possession order without an RSL spending £30K on each case, armed to the teeth with witnesses and barristers is essential. Housing management have my sympathy in this area. It is a Herculean endeavour. However that deals only with the present. Preventing the allocation of a tenancy to an EPPT in the first place (and it is always pretty obvious to housing officers who these creatures will be when they first come begging) can only be achieved by shelving needs based allocation and returning to a Merit based approach. The officer's first question should be "Well what have you done to deserve a tenancy in the first place?". Clearly being in work at the time of application would be the very first criteria to consider. Such a policy would inevitably increase the number of working tenants on estates. If anyone seriously thinks that having two thirds of social tenants being on permanent benefits is a good thing, then you seriously need to have your head tested. Put that in a manifesto and try to get elected to national office if you do. Only by changing the present allocation system will any progress in this area be achieved. Tinkering around the edges will achieve nothing. Scrap needs based allocation and change will flow from there.
02/09/2009 8:55 am
ILAG - you comment that a less supine judiciary removing the EPPT would only deal with the present or current persistent problem tenant.
No. It would send a message out loud and clear to all tenants that if you misbehave in this way you will be evicted. This knowledge curbs existing tenants behaviours and future ones too. Additionally it is the only way to deal with existing problem tenants as changing the allocsation system does not and cannot do that.
With that reassuring process in play for the vast majority of good tenants, social housing improves in reality and reputation and the model works, or at least can work. Tinkering or even wholesale change with new allocations cant change the existing reality of the persistent problem tenant, feral dog owner or not.
We can then and only then look at allocation. So who should receive the many benefits of subsidised housing becomes the question. In any humane society that has to be those most in need that the country provides shelter to. It cant be some form of subjective selection based on the 'preferences' of housing officers. Apart from being wildly subject to abuse and legal challenge it is immoral.
02/09/2009 9:26 am
Coming back on topic the solution is clearly to disallow pets within the tenancy agreement. This would apply to existing and new tenants. Break your tenancy agreement over this and you either get rid of the pet or loose your home - Simples as our little furry friend would say.
This does not need a change in the allocations system, now any legal modifications. It avoids the imposition of individual bias or discrimination. It would even allow neighbours to shop agreement breakers to the landlord, which would keep certain quarters happy and reduce the detection and enforcement costs. Personally, I do not believe that dogs are suitable occupants of communal dwellings, and I would support all residents within communal blocks coming under the same tenancy restrictions.
02/09/2009 9:57 am
I agree with C Webb, although pets are banned in most new tenancies that I come across and we get back to the same problem of getting these problem tenants out and then working out what to do with them.
I am still struggling to come up with a decent solution to that problem.
Incidentally, ILAG, thank you for finally explaining why you think needs-based allocations cause problems with "As it is all but impossible for working tenants to get allocated a flat under the present system. As they do not have enough "need" to get one". I now understand your point and kind of agree. The problem is, as above, we need to find a way to deal with the problem tenants too.
02/09/2009 10:33 am
Wed, 2 Sep 2009 09:26 GMT ... I completely agree with banning of pets, at least in all tenancies with public shared areas (hallways, corridors, gardens, etc.) Maybe the only exception should be if the property is provided with its own private open space (like a garden, etc) but then the rule should apply that any trespassing of the pet in other properties would incur loss of tenancy... A pet has not to be ferocious to be intimidating to others, especially if the latters have to share close proximity. Does not matter how well looked after or behaved some pets are - other tenants can still feel intimidated by them.
02/09/2009 10:49 am
What utter nonsense the banning of pets.
The case in question saw a tooled up squad break into a property to be met by a dog with a new litter. Any dog even a chihuahua would have defended its owner, its home and its young in that situation. To ban pets on that ground is utter madness.
To try and say as the original comment that the dog is feral (and all the other associated nonsense) is plain stupid. To then deduce from this natural circumstance that dogs or other pets should be banned is ridiculous
02/09/2009 11:08 am
Joe Halewood Wed, 2 Sep 2009 10:49 GMT... have you ever walked down a narrow public hallway with a dog sitting there - and no owner in sight - or have you ever been unable to get out of your home because of dogs in front of you door? And what if you have a baby or toddler - with you?...
Why do other tenants have to call the police, the landlord, etc. to go in and out of their properties?...
then if you report these things it starts tenants disputes whcih are much more costly to both landlord and police - apart for the cost to the vctim?... and it is right ot have dogs and other pets in one bedroom flats without a garden where these animals have to live a constricted life?
02/09/2009 12:06 pm
Kass - some people are petrified of spiders - is that a reason to ban them from social housing? Dogs dont cause many disputes, people do that with their actions or inactions. I agree its inhumane to keep a large dof or any other animal cooped up but owners can walk and exercise most dogs in external communal areas. if they dont they're unfit to have pets in my view, but thats very different from banning them.
And to return to the case in point i restate any dog would have reacted in the same natural way to an armed break in and having a litter of pups. The staff in quesstion is irrelevant and there is no evidence that this particulatr dog terorised the neighbourhood - read the wider report on the bbc website as well as this original one.
Yes if dogs are terrorising or attacking people then the law can take action and correctly so. But to ban dogs or any other pets is way off beam and highly emotive.
02/09/2009 12:56 pm
Joe Halewood Wed, 2 Sep 2009 12:06 GMT .... "if they dont they're unfit to have pets in my view, but thats very different from banning them."...
If police and landlords were efficient in satisfying residents intimidated or annoyed ordisturbed then yes, maybe you would be right. But. AS YOU WELL KNOW, the fact is that landlords and police are extremely ineffective about these matters. If residents are terrified by spiders and one resident wants to keep spiders, fine, but thgis residents should keep the spiders inside her property and not letting them roam in communal areas.... I suspect the amount of litigations, issues, disputes, etc arising from pets is in no way creating any harmony in our communities but just fuels more antagonism we just do not need.
02/09/2009 2:22 pm
Sorry Jo, we agree on many things, but I am convinced that it is unfair to the animals concerned for pets to be kept in communal residences. Even in the cases where the 'dog is so happy when I get home' misses the howling all day that may have occured.
Animals do not belong in flats, simple as that. Such tenancy restrictions are common place already, and neighbour tensions (not to mention repair bills) are reduced as a result.
If anyone can explain how it is correct for a dog to be shut indoors all day whilst its' owner is at work then I may change my view.
Banning pets through the tenancy is reasonable, fairer on the animals concerned, removes the potential nuisance they may cause, avoids any question of using the home to breed dangereous dogs, and provides clarity to all concerned.
05/09/2009 5:49 pm
Wow, another thing Chris Webb and I agree on.
Obviously dogs should be banned in urban flatted social housing developments. Getting the RSL to enforce though is another thing. They wont even enforce their own tenancy rules. The breeding of attack dogs has become endemic in Islington council housing according none other than the Chief Vet of the Harmsworth RSPCA Hospital in Finsbury Park. Yes, the Rolf Harris one. See
But will the RSL take notice and enforce their own existing "one dog without permission" rule?
Not holding breath....
03/08/2012 4:13 pm
I live in shelterd housing and its a life of hell. we have a Rottweiler dog housed with two old people in a one bed no garden first floor flat next door to us 5 feet away, and its made our life hell. Kepts us awake night day with them taking the big dog down the staircase banging doors. The Housing assosiation are a law unto themselves do what they like to you. Even told us to move out if we don't like it. shame on them.The dog comes first.