COMMENT: ‘How the Greens will fight for a fairer housing market in Haringey’
PUBLISHED: 11:45 13 February 2015
TONY GAY at email@example.com
The Green Party’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green sets out the party’s vision for solving the housing crisis.
"Sadly, Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians have long viewed houses not as homes but as investment opportunities."
Some eight out of 10 people living in Greater London said there is a housing crisis in Britain and three-quarters agreed there is a housing crisis in their local area.
This is not news to campaigners who have called current housing policy completely bankrupt and getting unfairer by the hour. And then there’s the Labour council. Haringey Council has done deals with Spurs, losing council housing, and the council Leader is now slated to dine at Cannes for international property event MIPIM, with three others from Haringey, at a cost of more than £30,000.
Everyone needs - and therefore has a right to - a place to live, to sleep, and to have a home life. Sadly, Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians have long viewed houses not as homes but as investment opportunities. Following the March For Homes, and after Cold Homes Week, surely it is time to challenge that whole notion.
Here are some priorities to address urgently. House prices in London are much higher than elsewhere in the UK. Rents in the private sector average £1,450 per month in London and parts of Haringey are much higher than that. Private tenants have no security; landlords hold the trump card of assured shorthold tenancies. They can increase rents and if tenants complain or request repairs, they can - and do - turf them out. We need a tenant’s charter and rent controls.
People working in London, those with professional and important jobs: nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officers, for example, cannot afford to find housing that meets their needs anywhere near their place of work.
Housing is being built, but most of it is aimed at investors and the very rich and foreign buyers who live overseas and leave them empty for most of the time or let them at exorbitant rents. We need to tax empty properties.
The government’s Help To Buy scheme has helped to inflate prices even more. The Right To Buy scheme has decimated publicly-owned social housing. Local authority waiting lists are long beyond measure. Applicants for council and housing association properties are greeted with the following sentence on the front page of the relevant council website: “Due to the very high demand for social rented housing in Haringey, only the highest priority applicants will be successful.”
We need a commitment to serious numbers of really affordable housing – a monthly cost well below half of median income – and an end to restrictions on council’s borrowing to build council housing.
I think housing couldn’t be more important. We need to: end Right To Buy and introduce Right To Rent; end landlord harassment and introduce smart rent controls and security of tenure; build more affordable housing on brownfield sites; give councils the power to borrow to build homes; focus regeneration on the needs of communities for homes to live in, not on investors’ greed; tax empty property.
Only the Green Party is committed to rent controls and investment in affordable housing. Most Londoners know this is a critical issue and that the government can do something about it. We need a government that does, and will demand that of any forthcoming administration.