Lodging house tenants given a reprieve after Housing steps in

REMAINING St Martin’s Residential tenants have been given a temporary reprieve after Housing convinced manager Malcolm Davies to leave on water and electric supplies.

REMAINING St Martin’s Residential tenants have been given a temporary reprieve after Housing convinced manager Malcolm Davies to leave on water and electric supplies.

Concerned for the residents’ welfare, the department said it advised Mr Davies to keep the essentials switched on, as he would ‘likely to be acting unlawfully’ if he shut them down.

The lodging house closed its doors yesterday but Simon and Tracey Carter had refused to leave with their two sons because they were unable to find anywhere else that they could afford.

However, speaking yesterday after a story about the family’s struggle appeared on the front page of the Guernsey Press, Miss Carter said they had now secured a flat.

It was one they had previously viewed but could not afford the £1,050 deposit.

‘The landlord called us up and said he would lend us the deposit if my partner could do a bit of gardening and decorating work for him in return,’ Miss Carter said.

Comments for: "Lodging house tenants given a reprieve after Housing steps in"

Ray

Well done to the landlord and well done to Housing for intervening

A big 'Not well done' goes to Environment and their giant book of unbreakable rules which dictates that even in an emergency empty hotel staff quarters could not be utilised to temporarily accomodate these desperate people

Just Sayin

Nice to hear that there are still some decent people out there.

Good luck Simon, Tracy, Christopher and Joseph!

Nathan

I bet ronnie ronalde would cry if he saw the state of his old place.

sarnia expat

Brilliant!

That is really nice, and shows that not all landlords are unscrupulous so and sos.

Dave Jones

We do our best at Housing and it is always a difficult situation trying to keep a balance and assess urgent situations when these issues arise. We have families who return to the island who once arrive are effectively homeless, moving to this kind of run down hotel accommodation and we have to make a judgement, firstly on the eligibility of those being evicted and at the same time think about those who have been on our waiting list for a considerable time who are patiently waiting to be housed, while others in difficult situations effectively jump the queue.

Of course some of the residents in these hotels and guest houses will not be eligible for social housing under the States housing criteria but will be eligible under the GHA rules of allocation so we try and work with all those seeking accommodation to try and see what is available in the private rental sector. We also think that the owners of these run down properties also have a responsibility to make sure their tenants are not put in this position because of the condition of the building and their wilful failure to maintain it properly.

We recognise that there is a growing problem for those looking for affordable housing and we are wearing out several sets of horses working with the GHA trying to build more social housing as fast as we can. While at the same time bringing all of our older housing stock up to modern standards.

Of course some of that old stock has had to be demolished and rebuilt which has not helped with the waiting lists but it simply could not be left standing any longer.

On top of that we are supplying housing for older people, so they can move from family homes they have under occupied for years, into accommodation better suited to their needs and of course extra care a specialist housing for those who need some care and assistance to live.

We have also helped 88 first time buyers through the partial ownership scheme, with more on the way. Again it is a question of trying to help all those who want social rental and those who want homes under the PO scheme, those who need specialist accommodation families, couples without children and single people the demands on us are endless.

At the same time rents in the private rental sector continue to rise and that does not help our situation, as more and more people want to come into social housing. The stark truth of course is that the taxpayer cannot afford to house every single person that wants subsidised housing so the private rental market will continue to ply a hugely important part in housing the island population.

Zab

The last paragraph really incences me. The stark truth is that our government HAS to ensure our people are looked after and rather than whinging about the cost they need to accept the situation is a direct result of their policies and start living up to their positions and responsibilies. Housing at an affordable cost is not some fairy wish list desire it is an ESSENTIAL! The truth is not that the taxpayer cannot provide affordable housing, the truth is "The States" do not want to. I would suggest the stark truth is that the people of this island cannot afford to tolerate politicians paying lip service to the situation, but believing the battle lost.

Minister Jones ought bring proposals to the States to fix once and for all the problem and resign if they reject them.If he believes that solving the problem is beyond his capability he should go!

Simples and far too long overdue.

PLP

Thanks for the reply Deputy Jones. Unfortunately some people don't seem to get that you don't get advanced notice of everyone deciding to return to the island. My understanding is there are potentially thousands of people eligible to live here who could return at any time. Perhaps we should be grateful they don't all decide to come back at once?

Private sector rentals need to be addressed as a priority, or as you say the demand on social housing will increase. I'm afraid I can't see much alternative in the long run than imposing a rent cap (perhaps linked to TRP) and some kind of controls to prevent unscrupulous landlords, like perhaps bringing in a licensing system that limits the number of people who can live in a property.

Saints

"We do our best at Housing", that statement raised a laugh, I'm still awaiting the courtesy of a reply to a letter addressed to Deputy Dave Jones in regards to behaviour from certain States Housing tenants that was sent on the 17th August, that letter was immediately sidestepped and he left his Chief Officer to reply to it and I'm still awaiting a response to the points raised.

KEITH BROOKFIELD

Saints will be interesting if you get a reply or is it a case of selected replies?

Dave Jones

Saints

I think I get from your post that you did have a reply from Housings Chief officer to your letter.

I don't actually deal personally with tenancy issues, that is not my role as head of housing and it is the job of the staff we employ to take care of these things. You could of course have called me at home my number is in the front of the book if you were dissatisfied with the response you had from my C O.

The letters that come into me at housing are opened and date stamped by the staff who open the mail, I read them and then pass them to the appropriate section for a response. There is simply not enough time for me to reply personally to every letter and as I have said on tenancy and licence issues it is simply not my job to do so.

Last year the Housing department received approx 7,000 pieces of correspondence much of it addressed to me so you can see the problem.

KEITH BROOKFIELD

A good answer dave but I must admit I do have to agree with Saints points raised in his reply.

Dave Jones

So you think it's the governments job to house everybody who wants it? It is not the taxpayers job to give everybody a house and you might indecate to me where you think the money would come from to fund all this subsidised housing, raise taxes I suppose.

We provide social housing for the low earners and those on fixed income ,pensions etc

Which is what we are attempting to do with the land and resources available. We have backed Social Security proposels for more financial help for low earners in private rental and although those proposals were not supported in March this year they will be coming back to the states again in due coarse where housing will support them again. Your protestations that the States do not want to provide affordable housing is simply not true it has consistently backed housings plans to do so and we have a robust social housing programme with more homes come on stream every year.

Zab

Yes in a modern western democracy a government has a duty of care to its people. I did not say I believed the taxpayer should give everybody a house but government having taken away peoples right to house themselves ie put a home anywhere they can, have assumed the duty of adopting policies to provide affordable housing.

As to the raise taxes bit, you voted for Zero 10, don't whinge about lack of tax.

Housing provides some social housing but in reality it is not enough or really affordable,the Social Security proposals were thrown out even though far less than recomended.

Of course the States do not want to provide affordable housing they have consistantly backed schemes that are destined to fall short of that which is required.

Robust housing policy, my ear get in one of those Travellers groups who throw up a caravan park in a UK Bank Holiday weekend or even Lagans to extend their village.

I challenge you to survey your waiting list and ask how many would accept a static caravan or pre fab in the interim. People are desparate now not on your time line.

Dave Jones

Zab

The government has a duty to make sure there is a buoyant economy where people have jobs and the ability to earn money to look after their families and provide for themselves and Guernsey has done a pretty good job of doing that over the last four decades or so.

You are right I did vote for zero 10 and we hadn't there would not be many of the jobs we have today or any money left for social housing.

Your idea that anyone should just be allowed to build hoses wherever they choose would have left Guernsey with little of its rural areas left if there were no planning policies.

I am also at a loss to understand your argument that social housing is not really affordable tenants pay a maximum of 25 percent of their household income in rent. As for the numbers we are building more of it every year.

Finally, where would you suggest we put all these static caravan parks.

Zab

On the first point if increasing numbers need help with housing they are hardly providing for themselves, so maybe it is not "a pretty good job".

On zero 10, why should our poor subsidise forgien investors? If you think our well off ought subsidise them its a different arguement.

It is not my idea that anyone should build houses anywhere, you oft mention that much is made of peoples rights and not enough of their responsibilities. I merely pointed out that in my opinion it was wrong of you to try and abdicate the States responsibility to care for islanders having curtailed their ability to provide shelter for themselves by denial of right of construction.

I am at a loss to understand your inability to comprehend that the 25% figure you bandy about is completly arbitary and bears no resemblance to the Income standards report, which prior to publication you supported but once published have refused to endorse in full. One can only presume the results were shaming.

You never actually said wether you accepted the need for trailer parks or if you would survey your waiting list, however as to a possible location or two, since there is no shame in having "trailer trash" in our society how about the North Beach near the financial district or alternatively Abrahams Bosum on Northside, Vale.

Saints

Dave Jones

The only reply I've had is an acknowledgement to my letter dated 2nd Sept. I've not had a letter as promised looking into the points it raised. The reason I addressed the letter to you was because you are the political head of Housing and are the person ultimately responsible for policy. As you correctly stated it is the Chief Officer and his staff who are employed to implement these policies. If you'd read the letter carefully it did question policy as well as problems with tenants. I questioned the policy of housing anti-social elements throughout the island spreading misery to those of us in the private sector who have worked hard to pay off a mortgage but eventually are forced to move out of our own homes as it's obvious that the tenancy agreement signed by States tenants is not worth the paper it is written on. Ours is not an isolated case. This is not the place to discuss my particular gripe but I do wonder how widespread this problem is and I type this more out of frustration in that Housing seem to have taken no action whatsoever and that includes bothering to reply to a letter typed nearly three months ago addressing problems which have been ongoing for something like eighteen months.

Dave Jones

Saints

In that case I will find out first thing tommorw why you have not had a detailed response. On the issue of where tenants are housed as I say is a matter for tenancy officers to deal with. The policy is that we house tenants where the most suitable houses are available, we don't always have the luxury of lots of empty properties that are available to select certain areas for different families.

The tenancy agreements are enforced where we have clear evidence that they have been broken, many of the issues are often police matters and if damage or nuisance is being caused

to neighbours or property then we need real proof of that from the police supported by witness accounts before we can act.

The Housing department has to provide the same level of proof as the police when we seek eviction of disruptive tenants to the courts, in order for housing to win its case for removal.

We do send out warning letters to tenants breaking their tenancy agreements and I can tell you where young children are involved the courts are sometimes reluctant to evict as it will effect the lives of the children.

One other major problem we have is getting neighbours and others to give evidence against those who make life difficult for other residents on or around their estates and it is impossible for us to do anything meaningful without the proof needed.

i

We also have problems with people causing problems who don't live on our estates but come from elsewhere and we can't have housing staff mounting a 24 hour watch on problem areas and in any event that is a matter for the police but it is areal problem.

I can also tell you the kinds of problems you list are not exclusive to states housing estates and I understand the police deal with several incidents around the island of antisocial behaviour on privatly owned housing estates as well.

I am quite happy for you to come to my department and discuss the problems you have clearly experienced and you have my assurance that if proof can be provided fit to present to a court in serious cases ,Housing will persue an eviction if repeated warnings have not resolved the matter

As to how widespread the problem is? Well we have nearly 1800 states properties housing some of the poorest people in our community and many families will have other problems other than be low income earners. The only way I can answer that question is to say that the vast majority of our tenants do not present problems and are hardworking people who happen to live in social housing.

If you would like to call me my number is in the front of the book.

Dave Jones

Zab

The numbers are increasing but that does not get away from the fact that the vast majority of people in Guernsey provide for themselves. Guernsey has one of the largest home ownership rates in the world. On Zero 10 I think you will find that it is the income from a buoyant economy that provides the wherewithal to help fund benefits and financial help for the less well off and that is also true of the investment in social housing through the GHA from the business sector. Perhaps you could tell us what you would replace the finance sector with?

The government is providing help with housing for those on low incomes,

I note the other points you make.

Zab

Dave

The Medical Officer of Health is on another thread stating 10 000 of our people are below the mark that is appalling. All I want is to see an end to the denial of that inconvenient truth and see more and prompt action to put that situation right. Not to fiddle about and trot out a different regime which in reality is simply a rehash of the figures dressed up as change.

Finance and our government needs to understand that they can not have the good life on the backs of our poorest, zero 10 does not yet reflect that unless it means the poorest 10% get zero.

I do know government is providing help with housing for those on low incomes simply in my view not enough, fast enough.

I reiterate yet again that the unfounded assuption that everyone can afford 25% of their income for social housing is simply not bourne out by the figures and needs swift revue.

For example a person with an income standard need of £231 exclusive of rent/tax/si in reciept of £170 supplementary despite being £60 short is still expected to find £42 rent.

Dave Jones

Zab

I do know that the information in the MHO's report is being looked at carefully. I would question the figure of 10,000 but we will see.

Also the 25 percent is the maximum people pay in rent, those on really low incomes pay about 14 percent and we also work with SSD to make sure they get the maximum financial help available.

Zab

Dave

Given the colour of our government I am also sure the MHO's report is being gone through with a fine tooth comb, I too question the 10 000 figure but I suspect from a different direction.

OK 14% is better than 25 but still if you don't have it in the first place.

Back to my original point you have sought and got a position of leadership in our community, I simply want and would be well satisfied for you to deliver the goods. On a personal basis if the house at large prevented me doing a decent job, I would tell them to look for a stooge elsewhere, but that is my personal morality. If in your judgement it is better to compromise some of your beliefs for lesser results, fine. But please understand that some of us are not prepared to be hoodwinked and misled that something has been delivered when it has not.

Dave Jones

Zab

All those on benefits get an allowance for rent, so they should have the money as it is given to them. Those who are working but not earning enough can get a top up to help with rent and other living costs.

As for my position in government and my personal commitment. I have consistently voted for measures to help the less well off. I was a lone voice last week on the Policy Council in supporting the Le Lierve amendments in the States for enhanced benefits for the poorest sector of our community. I did not support the budget last year simply because the tax rises were not based on people’s ability to pay, indirect taxes are a one size fits all policy which hits the poorest the hardest.

I do not consider myself a stooge and I will continue to press for more social housing as long as I am in the job, if the States do not believe that either I or my department are not doing the job properly then I am sure they will remove us from the task. As for compromise, I do what is possible with the resources available in terms of funding and land. We are making progress with a lot more social housing to come.