Community action group accuses Lambeth housing officers of tricking homeless people off the council housing waiting list

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

Housing officers are encouraging homeless people to accept offers of private housing in neighbouring boroughs so they can remove them from the council housing waiting list and end their obligations to house them, it’s being claimed.

Lambeth council has been accused by a community action group, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) of ‘tricking’ applicants into ending their homeless assessment by offering them a six-month tenancy in private housing outside of the borough.

They say tenants accept being placed in higher priority Band B rather than temporary accommodation under Band C on the understanding that they stand a better chance of being offered a permanent home.

Those offered private housing outside of Lambeth will remain on the council waiting list for two years before being removed.

They are then evicted from the property just six months later. HASL says the ‘Temp 2 Settled’ scheme penalises homeless people wanting to stay on the housing register in Lambeth, as those on the scheme stand a better chance of being housed in Lambeth (42 per cent of placements), albeit temporarily, than those continuing to seek temporary accommodation (27 per cent).

As the scheme is voluntary, applicants lose their right to important legal protections such as the ability to challenge offers of unsuitable accommodation within 21 days.

Once an applicant is placed on the ‘Temp 2 Settled’ scheme they will then have to start a new homeless application again.

Protesters outside Lambeth town hall

The ‘Temp 2 Settled’ scheme was started by Lambeth council in November 2014 and since then the number of decisions made on homeless applications has fallen 25 per cent from 1,000 a year to 750.

Decisions on homeless assessments in neighbouring Southwark have increased to more than 2,000 a year in that time. Elizabeth Wyatt, a member of the HASL campaign group, believes the scheme drives families out of the borough so that the town hall can reduce its homelessness statistics.

She said: “Lambeth council are tricking and exploiting some of their most vulnerable homeless residents with this scheme.

They are promising them council housing, then forcing them out of the borough and kicking them off the council housing waiting list so that these families will never have the chance of the secure council homes they desperately need.

The council’s scheme is fuelling social cleansing and trapping families into a cycle of homelessness as they are forced back into the insecure, poor quality private rented sector.”

Migrants who do not already have housing register accounts are particularly vulnerable.

Susana Romero, 44, a single working mum, was advised by Lambeth council to take up temporary private accommodation in the borough of Lewisham as they said she and her son would stand a better chance of being housed permanently.

She was evicted from the private property by the landlord and placed temporarily in a hotel which proved unsuitable.

Susana said: “There were many people with drug addictions who would come in and leave the door open.

It was a problem because my son would be alone there for part of the afternoon and evening.”

Susana applied for 300 homes in Lambeth over a two-year period but was unsuccessful on each occasion. Lambeth council informed Susana last year that she would lose her right to bid for social housing as she had not lived in the borough for two years.

On December 20, 2018 she was permanently removed from the housing list. Susana will now have to live in Lewisham for five years before she can start bidding for council homes again, despite having lived in London for eight years.

She said: “My son says the government tricked us. He is still just a kid, so that’s just how he says it.” A spokesman for Lambeth council said: “Susana approached us in 2016 for help due to the loss of her private rented accommodation in Lambeth.

“She was provided with temporary accommodation by us in a hostel for a couple of months, and then helped to secure private rented accommodation in Lewisham in December 2016.

“We do not guarantee that someone will be offered housing in that two years, or that they will be able to join the waiting list of the borough they move to.

“But after two years living in private rented accommodation in another borough, we believe it is reasonable for us to treat them now as a resident of that borough.

“She has submitted a review request of that decision which we are currently considering.”

4 thoughts on “Community action group accuses Lambeth housing officers of tricking homeless people off the council housing waiting list

  • 12th April 2019 at 5:52 pm
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    I too was “TRICKED” by Lambeth housing, I’ve lived in lambeth all my life, 50 yrs, but ended up private renting 15 hrs ago, after 10yrs landlord evicted me, lambeth failed to find alternate accommodation for me and my son, but told me if i find a property they will higher my bidding priority and paid a big fat NON REFUNDABLE deposit to my new landlord, in Croydon, £3000.00 as an incentive for 2 yr tenancy. Unbeknown to me though, I was NEVER told, after 2 yrs they would wiped me off the register. So 12 years of bidding gone!! All my support network, family and friend are no more!!!! I feel cheated and tricked because had I known that would happen I would of stayed in lambeth, no one told me this would happen!!! Smfh

    Reply
    • 8th September 2019 at 5:14 pm
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      I am currently in a temporary accommodation in Wimbledon under a private Landlord and was placed here by Lambeth 2years ago. I got a call on Friday from one of Lambeth councils worker asking me to move to a house in Richmond which is still under a private landlord. He said the difference is that I will be given a tenancy for 2years and that part of my rent will be paid by housing allowance and not housing benefit as the case now. He again said I will be discharged from the borough after 2years should I agree to go on this route but I would still get a continued tenancy after 2years from the landlord. The problem is I am a student and that area is very far from my school and I do work part time as well not far from where I currently live. I am to meet with him tomorrow at 2pm. Not sure what to do?? Please advice

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    • 9th September 2019 at 10:20 am
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      I was place in band c four weeks after they place me in band c 2 I’ve called Lambeth council about it and was told it’s the same…. now they charge my band again and place me in band D …. first i am living out of Lambeth almost a year and now they are changing my band simple means they want to made me homeless again….. this needs the government to step in and sorted out these problems what Lambeth is doing to people….

      Reply
  • 1st November 2019 at 11:20 am
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    I have been on the housing list for over 14 years and have been in temporary accommodation for over 8 years. Lambeth moved me into Croydon but it is temporary accommodation managed by Lambeth. I have been told the only way to move up to band B is to go into private renting – I have always been band -C1. I bid every week and never seem to get anywhere. Please advise!!!

    Reply

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