Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/834/19701
Raging tenants evict rich landlord
Brian Debus, Hackney Socialist Party
When a 200 strong march of London's New Era estate and their supporters posted a massive eviction notice on management's door, no one believed it would happen five days later.
Tory MP Richard Benyon and family, part owners of the estate, are the butt of much anger for hiking rents by 18% to over £600 a month.
Their company, the Benyon Estate, sold up after the demo - citing tenants' protests. Lindsey Garrett, chair of New Era tenants' association, greeted this as a victory for activism against the richest MP in the country.
US based investment company Westbrook Partners now solely owns the estate. It has responded by refusing to honour a pledge that rents would not rise massively before 2016. Westbrook wants to kick out all tenants, do up the flats, and let them at market rents as high as £2,400 a month. Residents fear eviction by Christmas.
Westbrook is a company with the table manners of a skunk. It was labelled a "predatory landlord" by tenants of its New York properties. Residents there have contrasted Westbrook's hundreds of millions of dollars' wealth with constant leaks, no hot water, no mailboxes and over 2,700 building code violations.
A massive campaign by the American tenants has won rent rebates of $600 each and a maintenance increase.
Speaking to the Socialist, Lindsey commented "they are trying to intimidate and evict 93 families on the estate. We will now take the fight to Westbrook, even if it means going to New York.
"They are trying to take us back to Victorian times. It is the people with money, not asylum seekers and benefit claimants, causing the housing crisis."
In Hackney, private rents are among the highest in London, averaging over £2,100 a month. One signatory to the Socialist Party's petition spoke about her neighbour. She has been divorced for four years and has three kids. She has had to continue living with her ex-husband in a two bedroom house as it is the only way of paying the rent of over £1,500 a month.
The Socialist Party demands that Hackney's Labour council:
■ Refuses any cooperation with Westbrook Partners
■ Opposes any evictions and makes clear it would refuse planning permission for preparations for 'market level' rents
■ Starts the process of compulsory purchase of the estate
■ Imposes borough-wide rent controls
■ As well as protecting existing social housing, initiates a mass programme of building new, publicly owned housing
In The Socialist 19 November 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns