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Cambridge House for the Guardian: Renters must be able to hold private landlords to account

nightmare tenants slum landlords, channel 5, roz spencer, safer renting, safer renting blog, contact, licensing, public sector, housing enforcement,Safer Renting Director Roz Spencer shares insights into London’s broken private rented market and demands proper protections for renters in The Guardian.

Safer Renting creates pathways out of slum rentals for victims of criminal landlords.We influence social policy to create better conditions for renters and drive slum landlords out of business, and it’s great to see our work getting out there.  You can find out more about what we do on our Safer Renting page, and can support our work here.

An excerpt from the article is below, and you can read the full piece here:

“Evictions from a private tenancy are a major part of the 78% rise in homelessness since 2011. So-called allow private landlords to turf tenants out without any reason, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation attributes 80% of the recent rise in evictions to this process. We must be able to hold landlords to account if we are to lower the numbers of people that end up at local authorities’ doors.

The long awaited Homelessness Reduction Act has come into force, but already stretched local authorities are understandably concerned about the implications of this new duty, which places new legal duties on councils to ensure that anyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness has access to meaningful help, irrespective of their priority need status.

London councils have stated that even with the £61m additional funding provided nationally over the next three years to help them fulfil this duty, they will be left with a gaping financial black hole to fulfil this obligation.I am all for obliging councils to invest money in preventing homelessness – but we need to address some of the key reasons increasing numbers of people are becoming homeless in the first place.”

Cambridge House wins Sports Development Award at London Youth Awards!

Sensational Sports, London Youth Awards, June Lois, Rob Anderson, Chris Fairley, Rachel Zipfel

June holding her award with Cambridge House colleagues at the London Youth Awards in March 2018

We’re thrilled to announce that Cambridge House’s SENsational Sports team won the Sports Development Award at the London Youth Awards! Under the exceptional leadership of June Lois, a Cambridge House veteran, our SENSports team enable young people with profound and multiple learning and/or physical disabilities to get active, improve muscle tone and experience weightlessness.

In a fantastic ceremony at Channel 4’s headquarters – which saw Cambridge House share a stage with talented young dancers, comedians and campaigners – June accepted a thoroughly-earned trophy presented by our friends at the Jack Petchey Foundation. Our SENsports team are going from strength to strength, and we’re immensely proud of the innovative and inspirational work they do. 

Access sport and activity is key to everyone’s psychological health and emotional well-being, no matter your ability. For over two years, our talented and dedicated SENSports team have provided therapeutic sports activities to 11-25 year-olds with profound and multiple learning and physical disabilities, including our Hydrotherapy and Rebound Therapy sessions. The sessions enable some of the most marginalised and least active young people in Southwark to access fun and regular activities that are tailored to the physical and emotional needs of each individual.

Through consistent, personalised support in a safe space, our participants learn new skills, gain confidence, build relationships and improve their health and emotional wellbeing. Our SENSports team go above and beyond in inspiring and supporting marginalised young people to get active, and it’s great to see them recognised for their work.

 

 

The closure of Lambeth County Court has become a dangerous farce

Credit to secretlondon123. Used under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Credit to secretlondon123.

Lambeth County Court,  one of the busiest housing court in the country, was due to close last week as part of the Ministry of Justice’s court closure programme. Late last Friday, our solicitors were informed that the Court was staying open for at least another month; the court staff had only found out that morning. The chaos around the Court is putting families at risk of homelessness and denying them access to justice.

When the plan to close Lambeth County Court was first announced, Cambridge House along with Southwark and Lambeth Law Centres advocated against the decision to close the court, highlighting the substantial barriers to justice that closing the court would create for poorer clients across South London. Under the proposed plans, court users will be expected to travel much further to attend and at considerable cost; for example, a person in South Norwood may have to travel to Old Street, a £10 return. A single person’s basic Universal Credit allowance is £79 per week; attending a hearing then could consume more than 10% of their weekly budget. The decision appears to be administratively driven and with little thought given to users of the court, especially those vulnerable clients most in need of accessible justice.

With this latest twist, the closure of the court has descended from a short sighted cost-cutting exercise to dangerous farce. We have seen many different letters relating to court hearings, all citing different venues. These cases are not trivial – vulnerable people with low incomes attending court to try and keep a roof over the heads, sometimes against unscrupulous or negligent landlords. Thanks to this confusion, there can be no doubt that there will be more evictions and more people will become homeless. People will attend the wrong court, arrive late or not attend at all, thanks to the cost, because they can’t get time off work, or simply because they’ve given up hope. Some will make deals with their landlords to avoid court, which will doubtless to lead to eviction/homelessness in the end.

It is vital that people seek legal advice as soon as they receive any court notification, as Legal Aid is still available for housing possession cases, and that they are able to attend court. We reiterate our response to the closure plans and urge the Ministry of Justice to reconsider the decision to close Lambeth County Court. 

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