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Leader's response to private sector leasing concerns

Published: Friday, 6 July 2018

Havering Council's Leader responds to concerns about private sector leasing

Regarding the situation and concern over private sector leaseholds, Leader of the Council, Councillor Damian White, said:

“The Council knows that this process is upsetting and stressful, and no one in the Council wants to put our residents through it. However, rental costs in Havering are high and getting higher, on the other hand the Council’s budget is low, and getting lower. Next year there will be no central Government grant, meaning that since 2014/15 we have lost nearly £39m in funding from Government.

“We are not alone in facing this issue, London as a whole, the Southeast of England and many cities throughout the UK are in exactly the same situation.

“We are proud that we fulfil our duty to house families and individuals who qualify for our help, but private sector leasing costs the council millions each year. This is money we no longer have, so we have to find solutions that keep roofs over heads but are within our budget. Sadly for some people, it may mean a roof over their head in another area. We always try to house people in the borough or close by, but this is not always possible, and cheaper rents in towns further away are sometimes our only option.

“For example a two bedroom house in Havering costs on average £1,200 a month. The council only receives £756 from Government which means we have to make up the balance of £444 every month. Last year the Council had to subsidise rents with Council Tax to the tune of nearly £2m.

“For those who are affected, we do everything in our power to find them homes that are suitable and nearby, we also support them when children have to move schools. In addition many people will qualify for our scheme where we will give them a deposit, their first month’s rent and assistance in looking for a new home if they no longer qualify for Council support.

“At the moment the Council has a stock of over 9,000 affordable homes, and over the next 10 years we are working to build an additional 3,224 homes, which will be affordable, but this will take time and our obligation to house people cannot wait.

“In the meantime we admit that we have not communicated clearly enough, and rumours have been rife both on social media and by word of mouth. Understandably, many of the people we support are worried and confused. We will be writing to each of our residents in private sector leasehold accommodation to explain the situation.

"Anyone with concerns can call 01708 432824 and ask for the Housing Solutions team during normal office hours or email"