THINKers heard at the weekend that RBKC Deputy Leader Kim Taylor-Smith wrote to housing minister Kit Malthouse, asking for special powers for the council to acquire empty properties for social housing.
Cllr Taylor-Smith said “doing so would make it “easier, quicker and financially viable to target all empty properties that could and should be put to use to alleviate pressing housing needs”
How would he do this? Well “Tailored -Sloth” has been making noises about offering property investors tax breaks if they would rent out their properties to the council – he said: “We want to collaborate with, not clobber, the property investors”
Maybe KTS might consider that many investors would be reluctant to let their properties out to the council for social rent in the first place – we can’t exactly imagine some oligarch letting the council rent out their mansion for a homeless family to live in for some reason. As for overseas investors buying up property here , maybe our Government can look at what the Government of New Zealand have brought in?
Of course we agree that changes need to be made to the law regarding empty properties lying vacant for a long time -but KTS , in his interview with Radio Four on Saturday, talked about Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs ) which in his words “give power to a council to take properties and manage them for the benefit of the owner in the circumstances where the property has been empty for more than two years or has been subject to vandalism” but failed to give numbers. Oh well, maybe we can try – these orders were put into law in 2004 and by 2010 , only 43 EDMOs had been granted. In 2015, The Guardian reported how only 17 of these EDMOs had been granted the previous year.
We could also point out that plenty of property investors would be dead set against ever allowing RBKC to manage their properties, after seeing how the council can’t even look after its own properties.
Anyway, maybe KTS knows something we don’t and he can think of a few fellow multimillionaires who would give someone their shoe closet to sleep in ?
Perhaps “Tailored-Sloth” could be more realistic and start with the Sutton Estate in his own ward (it was the subject of his maiden speech as a councillor apparently) and try to get Government help to stop the destruction of perfectly decent social housing and make some arrangements to buy back the empty properties from the Clarion housing association fat cats?
Our readers can look at this from last year about the situation regarding the Sutton Estate and proposed (and thankfully rejected by RBKC) plans
THINK believe that it is time for housing associations to return to their roots and while all sides accept there is a real shortage of social housing here, this Government appears to not be doing anything at all about housing associations selling off social rent properties in higher value areas like ours. Perhaps Taylor-Smith and his colleagues should really be writing to the housing minister about this instead of all the PR bluster?
THINK say to RBKC that it is all very well to pretend to care about social housing and make nice warm noises in front of the media – but it is your deeds and not your words that you will be judged upon and residents from all over the borough and from very differing political views and social backgrounds are sharing our scepticism on this.
We will also remind this council that most of the people who were on the housing waiting list before Grenfell are being housed outside the borough, or in some cases – outside London. Since 2014, when RBKC changed its housing eligibility rules, anyone housed outside the borough for more than two years, becomes the responsibility of whichever council they find themselves being temporarily housed in.
If Kim Tailored -Sloth is really serious about wanting to do something about the social housing situation, then he should make changes to RBKC housing rules right away and abolish this punitive and socially damaging two year rule – perhaps he might respond to us and try to explain why he hasn’t bothered to do anything about this – despite being in his post for over a year?