Rent strike victory

Partial rent strike campaign leads to compensation pay out

By Luchia Robinson

A resident living in an estate in the Roundway, N22 has been offered compensation from their housing association, following years of complaints about maintenance and anti-social issues going unresolved.

Tenant and Social Housing Action Campaign (SHAC) member, Wendy Charlton says she began withholding part of her rent to Clarion, in June, in an attempt to get the landlord to address numerous problems on the estate, which include faulty facilities, pigeon fowling, and anti-social behaviour.

The partial rent strike is one of a collective that SHAC is coordinating nationwide, alongside housing association tenant who are protesting failings by their landlords.

Clarion Housing owns and manages 125,000 homes making it UK’s largest housing association, with 350,000 tenants nationwide. It is one of 18 landlords that SHAC is currently protesting against.

A Clarion spokesperson told TCP they are sourcing a security gate to replace the current faulty unit, they have scheduled the communal repairs reported to them (which includes installing lighting in the communal utility cupboard), and that pest control contractors have been requested to visit the estate to explore what further works can be carried out to prevent pigeons nesting on the block.

Wendy Charlton. Credit: Wendy Charlton

Wendy has also been offered a sum of £425 in compensation for “having to repeatedly chase responses and seek correction of mistakes”, as well as for Clarion’s “delay in complaint response” and their ‘failure over a considerable period of time to act in accordance with policy in addressing estate issues.”

Suzanne Muna, secretary of SHAC, said: “We started the strike group when we realised that some of the tenants were already withholding rents or service charges, either wholly or in part, because they weren’t able to get genuine engagement from their landlords or housing associations. Others were thinking about doing it out of sheer frustration.

“This recent development at the Roundway is a victory for the whole estate.”

However, Clarion has denied any strike having happened at the Roundway, stressing that they “undertake repairs in line with our repair obligations and landlord responsibilities.”

A spokesperson from Clarion said: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority and we are committed to resolving all reported issues at The Roundway. We are not aware of any rent strike at this scheme and would like to stress that we undertake repairs in line with our repair obligations and landlord responsibilities. Repairs will be progressed in the same manner irrespective of residents’ rent account balance or payment history.

“We have a robust complaints and compensation process. On the occasions we have failed to deliver the service we should have, we will address this directly with our residents and provide compensation when required.”

According to SHAC, the tenants from the Roundway strike group have pledged to continue withholding part of their rents until the promised work has been completed.

Wendy is in the process of negotiating an increased sum of compensation. She said: “Ultimately, we want a change in approach across the board. We pay rent; [Clarion] are not doing us a favour by housing us. We want a fundamental resetting of the relationship between Clarion and the tenants.”