Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Tenants' Manifesto

  • Bring all existing and new council and other rented housing up to highest energy efficiency standards
  • Investment for existing and new council housing development and write off historic debts to clear way for councils to build more
  • Regulation of private-rented sector (PRS) to include repair standards and rents and an end to unfair fees and charges by letting agents
  • Councils to have necessary powers and resources to apply regulation of PRS, including powers to take over housing that fails to meet standards, to be improved and let as council housing
  • Powers to enforce the occupation of empty properties needed to meet housing need — squatting and occupations must be decriminalised
  • All new housing development to include 50 per cent really affordable housing for rent
  • All public land used for housing to create 100 per cent publicly owned, really affordable housing
TENANTS across Britain announced plans yesterday to join forces to ramp up the campaign for sweeping changes to end the country’s housing crisis.
Campaign group Defend Council Housing (DCH) is set to bring together trade unions, politicians and tenants groups to launch a new tenants’ manifesto.
DCH chairwoman Eileen Short told the Star: “We are hoping to unite and galvanise tenants and put politicians under pressure to turn words into action to build the houses that we need.”
The policy document confronts the Con-Dem government and its class-war policies head-on, demanding an end to the bedroom tax, welfare caps and the criminalisation of squatting.
South-east London private renters’ group Southwark Tenants welcomed the project.
“We are particularly interested in the expropriation of properties owned by bad landlords to allow the extension of council stock,” spokesman Tom Gann told the Star.
Mr Gann added that it was important to highlight the issues facing both public and private tenants.
At the core of the manifesto is the demand for a “new generation” of council homes.
“Most people now know they cannot rely on the market when it comes to getting a house,” added Ms Short.
DCH argues that all public land should be used to build “100 per cent publicly owned” accommodation. 
Long-standing campaign backer the GMB union echoed the sentiment.
“Many GMB members will not be able to buy due to the wages they get and the increasing cost of housing,” said general secretary Paul Kenny.
“We need to cut out the middle man, the housing agents, and we need to build the council houses our members require.”
The policy document will be finalised at a Britain-wide event on June 28 at the GMB offices, 22 Stephenson Way, London NW1 from noon to 5pm.
The campaign also urged activists to flock to the People’s Assembly march against austerity in London on June 21.

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