Category Archives: eviction

Southwark residents resist eviction!

Congratulations to Southwark residents for another successful eviction resistance! Here’s what happened on the day….

**Crossposted from https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/weve-stopped-the-eviction-now-southwark-stop-trying-to-make-people-homeless/ **

We’ve stopped the eviction, now Southwark – stop trying to make people homeless!

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This morning over 50 local people came together to stop the eviction of Aminata and her family from their temporary accommodation by Southwark council. Even though bailiffs had told the family they would arrive at 8am, they had coordinated beforehand with police to evict them at 11am. Lots of people returned to scupper the bailiffs plans and prevent the eviction. Another important win with collective action!

The eviction attempt was being watched over by the head of temporary housing at Southwark Council. He refused to speak to Sky News about why he had come to watch a family get evicted by police and bailiffs and he offered no solution that did not result in further homelessness for Animata and her family.

This was gross behaviour from Southwark council – calling police and bailiffs on local residents and using their staff time to come and watch a family be turfed onto the street. We were able to stop the bailiffs today but Aminata and her family were served with a court notice that puts them under 24/7 threat of eviction – another sickening move by the council. Southwark council need to stop this threat, drop their ‘intentionally homeless’ decision and continue to house the family until suitable social housing is given to them.

Why are Southwark council trying to make people who are already homeless, homeless again?

Aminata and her family, like all of us, needs secure, truly affordable and quality social housing. We must keep the pressure on Southwark council to drop their claims on ‘intentionally homeless’ and to continue to house the family until suitable social housing is provided.

Join us tweeting Southwark council and Councillor for housing Richard Livingstone.

Help us to organise an action to show our support for the family and tell Southwark council that no one is intentionally homeless! Get in touch and keep a watch on our website and social media.

 

Waltham Forest Resist Eviction!

On Tuesday 29th September at 8.00am, the forces of darkness descended on a property in Ilford to evict a family of three.  To their surprise, they were met by a group of Waltam residents standing peacefully but assertivately in front of the house. On realising what they were up against, threats were made and the police  called. Yet, the Waltham community stood firm in their solidarity and prevented the eviction from taking place, keeping the family housed.

Communities coming together to support and defend eachother against the cruelty and injustice of the London housing market. Is this the beginning of the end of the housing crisis?

Here’s some inspiring video footage of the resistance, please share widely.

 

 

Bailiffs sent packing by Barnet community power!

** Cross posted from https://sweetswayresists.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/mostafa-eviction-delayed/**

Bailiffs sent away! Mostafa still at Sweets Way!

On Monday, people kept a family from being evicted and pushed a council to reverse the decision that would have left them homeless. But we need to keep up the pressure to keep Mostafa and the family safe.

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Photo by Hannah Nicklin

On Sunday night, many of us didn’t go to sleep. Bailiffs were due at 46 Sweets Way and because we had seen what Mostafa and his family had gone through, and we had seen them failed over and over again by the various systems that are meant to protect them, we knew we needed to prepare with them to stay in their home.

We were prepared to do everything peaceful within our power to stop High Court bailiffs from entering the home of the last family at Sweets Way and making them homeless. Some of us planned to take photos and document the experience, others were prepared to take civil disobedience and face arrest.

But whatever kind of action we spent the night before preparing to do, we prepared to do it because it was right.

As it turned out, there were enough of us there that sending away the bailiffs proved to only require a very passive form of resistance: being there! Enough of us, even, that they didn’t show their faces or even make an attempt to breach the gauntlet of more than 60 people (including allies from Our West Hendon, Barnet Housing Action, Haringey Housing Action Group, Barnet Alliance for Public Services and Black Dissidents) and an extensive array of amateur barricading.

In fact, we only even found out that the bailiffs had come and gone when we called Barnet Council’s lawyers. We asked if the bailiffs were still scheduled to arrive and were told that the two of them that had been dispatched knew immediately they were no match for our collective power, and left. (They didn’t use exactly those words…).

You could feel the sense of collective power in the air – we knew what we had achieved, and the energy was electric! A group of regular people had sent away the bailiffs and kept a family in their home! And we knew we would be able to do it again.

Better yet, as Barnet had been punishing the family over the a small amount of rent arrears accrued since the Council unexpectedly cut their housing benefit, they received a message this afternoon informing them that their housing benefit had been reinstated, retroactive a month ago. This will address their arrears and allow Barnet to once again own up to their responsibility to house the family appropriately.

This is a clear victory spurred by our collective action to highlight the Council’s many failures to Mostafa, and the number of media requests that came off the back of our action. Once again, Barnet need to find the family somewhere to go. And it’s up to us to make sure they have a home until the point where they have an alternative that truly meets their needs.

This will require a lot of work from all of us, preparing to fight off the bailiff threat whenever it rears its ugly head. High Court bailiffs don’t normally offer a time or date when they are coming, and are entitled to use physical force to enter and remove families from a house. Because of this, Mostafa and the family remain barricaded in and ready for an attack.

We need to be there with them.

We have a strong contingent of occupiers staying around Sweets Way at the moment, but we need more people who can stay there (or who live very locally) in the coming days, to ensure an initial line of defence when bailiffs do return. It would be tragic if all our hard work yesterday was lost because a few of us slept late one day.

Get in touch if you live within in a few minutes of the estate, or can come stay over during the coming days. sweetswayresists[AT]gmail[DOT]com / 07812 372 298

We are all inspired by what we were able to do yesterday – let’s be sure it continues to grow!

PS – having made it through many months of intense campaigning without any way of receiving cash donations beyond the bits of cash visitors would sometimes pass along, we have set-up a PayPal account and would appreciate any help in covering some of the extra costs that several of us incurred, personally, during the People’s Regeneration Show Home project. Thank you so much!

 

Supporter of Trace (Lambeth) goes door knocking to create Eviction resistance phone tree

After yesterday’s eviction resistance action in support of 35 years resident Trace in Lambeth, supporters went door knocking in the neighbourhood, to create a phone tree for resisting future eviction attempts.

Housing activists stop Lambeth bailiffs evicting a disabled woman - in photos - Lillieshall Road, London SW4 0LP, April 2015

This followup action was initiated by a single supporter:

“I went down there again today on what turned out to be a false alarm this time. A police van was seen driving past and Trace asked for people to come in case the bailiffs came after the reconnaissance.   I decided to use the time to do a little more than sit around to see if the bailiffs were going to turn up. I said I was going to canvas her neighbours to build a list of people who could be part of a rapid response if the bailiffs did turn up. A couple of other people said they would canvas as well.


I did one street over from where Trace lives. Most doors I knocked nobody answered, probably at work or too elderly to open the door to a stranger without an appointment. Those who did answer I explained I had come over from Herne Hill on what was a false alarm and what we were trying to do was build a rapid response team of local people who if they were around could lend support at short notice. Of the seven people I did speak to, six of them agreed to give their phone numbers and said they would walk round to Trace’s if they received a text saying the bailiffs were there.


The other people who went canvassing got an equally good response. This is an example of what building a movement means in practice, not relying on a small number of activists who will burn themselves out trying to respond to everything.”

Single tenant stops eviction with “calm assertiveness that something can’t possible be right”

A single tenant in London stopped his eviction a few days ago, non-violently and with “calm assertiveness”.

In his own words:

“I had the bailiff turn up yesterday to enforce the eviction, I explained that I thought the order was not valid as I had been to court and found out that all the previous paperwork had gone to the wrong address and I had been told by the court to submit this in an email.

The bailiff explained that being told by a clerk on the inquiries line is not the same as getting a ruling from a judge and therefore the eviction order was still valid. I explained that it cannot possibly be right to grant an order for repossession without the right to a hearing in court to contest it. He said that is what you put a defense claim form in for. I said the clerk had not told me this. He said clerks are not qualified to give legal advice, your solicitor should have told you what to do.

I insisted that without the basis for the judgement how could I contest it and that had been posted to the wrong address. He said it was his discretion and since I had made efforts to contact the court he wasn’t going to enforce the eviction now – but I should speak to my lawyer again.

Then he left and when I spoke to the estate manager/caretaker later he said that previously people had lost their tempers with the bailiff but a calm assertiveness that something can’t possibly be right works much better. I had a hammer behind the door though if they had turned up in force to change the locks.

I feel I’m still angry they can treat people like this, to them it is just another property to me it is my home. But it buys me more time, I’m not going to make it easy for these b***ards. I’m still determined to fight them in whatever way I can.”

 

And a few more words about his future resistance:

We have a group started and a day of action planned for with banners, press and the invite will go out for everyone to join us. The whole estate (apart from a couple of snitches) is aware of what we are trying to start.

I only did yesterday alone because I knew it would be easy, and getting people to take time off work when they didn’t need to seemed a waste.”

Long-term solutions are reached through organizing with neighbors and a series of little victories. Well done!

Turning a legal “defeat” into a real victory: The Sweets Way social centre has moved!

Cross-posted from https://sweetswayresists.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/time-for-a-bigger-place/

Sweets Way Resists responds to a predictably unfair legal decision and gets on with fighting social cleansing.

Today one of the most long-standing principles of British law was reinforced: that private property rights hold greater importance than human rights. A Barnet County Court judge decided to rule against our protest and social centre occupation on the Sweets Way estate, in favour of social cleansing property firm, Annington, even though agreeing with most of our arguments in the courtroom.

Not only did they grant Annington possession over the 160 or so homes of the Sweets Way estate, they even gave them an injunction against future protests taking place anywhere on the site! This is unprecedented and a worryingly draconian case for all involved in housing justice work. However, as long as private property is deemed more legally important than a range of human rights, this kind of thing will happen.

But what happened after the injunction is truly remarkable!

Upon our return from court, we found that the social centre at 60 Sweets Way had been emptied of all the things that made it beautiful. Meanwhile a new property – a five bedroom at 76 Oakleigh Road North, owned by Annington as well, but just beyond the injunction and possession zones – had been occupied and filled with all the makings of a new social centre!

There’s a Mexican proverb that feels appropriate for us today:

‘They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds.’

The courts may be stacked against us in the fight for decent homes, but the courts have never been where our power lies. Every time they try to shovel another heap of dirt on top of us and hope we’ll go away, we shoot up through the soil with another burst of strength!

So we lost in the courts, but we won in the homes of Sweets Way! And we’ll be here to keep the question of social cleansing on the agenda, and support one another as we fight to protect these buildings from demolition and secure decent homes for all those who have already been forced out of Sweets Way.

As always, come pay us a visit (We’re on Oakleigh Road North now, backing onto Sweets Way), send us food and household stuff if you are able to, keep calling Annington’s offices, and sign the petition to stop the demolition of Sweets Way!

Together, we can defeat giants!

Sweets Way calls for support against evictions

(cross-posted from People’s Assembly)

Barnet Housing Action Group are a group campaigning around housing issues in The Borough of Barnet, North London. We have been working with the Our West Hendon campaign for the past year and have recently joined the Focus E15 Mums in occupying a house on the Sweets Way Estate in the North of the borough in protest against the evictions which have taken place there by Annington Homes Ltd, the owners of the houses and land.

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West Hendon is a council estate alongside a reservoir and conservation area known as ‘the Welsh Harp’. The estate comprises of a mix of 650 properties some secure tenancies, some private, some temporary non-secure tenants and also leaseholders. All of these homes are going to be bulldozed and replaced with 2000 luxury apartments – 214 of which – the non luxury of course – will be council flats.

The new luxury flats are being built alongside the Welsh Harp with beautiful views and open spaces whilst the secure council tenants are being moved into a block being built alongside the Edgware Rd in the middle of a gyratory one way system which used to be a car park. Their view will overlook the back of the mechanics garages and kebab shops on the Edgware Rd. Barnet council will not own the building, they will be leasing it from Metropolitan Housing Association. Barnet gave the land on which the West Hendon Estate currently stands to Barratt’s developers – FOR NOTHING!

The new development will be called Hendon Waterside but the West Hendon council tenants that get to remain on their estate won’t be anywhere near a drop of that water! The majority of people currently living on the estate will be ‘decanted’ to other areas; no one knows where until the very last minute of the ‘decanting’ process. The secure tenants still don’t know how much their rents will be and the leaseholders are fighting the Compulsory Purchase Orders put on their homes by Barnet Council which they are being forced to sell at thousands of pounds less than the market value. This scandal has prompted an 8 day public inquiry, the result of which is yet to be released. However even if the inquiry decides in their favour, Eric Pickles will have the last word on the final decision.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the borough – in the North of Barnet – we have a very recent campaign where a whole estate – 153 households, have been evicted because Barnet Council have given planning permission to the owners, Annington Homes, to bulldoze the whole estate and replace with 300 luxury apartments with zero social housing included in the new build.

The mix of residents housed there by the council in temporary, emergency and private accommodation have been dispersed, many out of the borough and many into sub-standard private accommodation, the majority against their will. We have seen a letter instructing a tenant to move to Birmingham the next day and know of one case of a tenant bullied into moving to emergency accommodation for just 10 days before being moved again to another temporary property with such short notice her son had to return from school to find their home boarded up and a neighbour waiting with a note to let him know the address of his new ’10 day’ home.!

There are only 10 families left on the estate now, all waiting for eviction notices and the atmosphere is like an apocalyptic scene from a science fiction film. The eviction process does not seem to have been explained comprehensively and neither was the process for accepting offers of homes to move to and for some this has resulted in them being discharged from the responsibility of Barnet council to re-home them. It is a crime to knock down these houses – they are all in pristine condition and were only built 45 years ago.

Private renting in Barnet is almost impossible and letting agents require a minimum of £36,000 a year salary, some £50,000 in order to be accepted to be on their books. In September 2013 there were only 6% of landlords that would accept tenants on housing benefit, now it is virtually none. There were 18,000 on the waiting list in 2013 and the council dealt with that by abolishing the list! To address this crisis they have recently built ’3′ council homes, the first for 22 years.

At present they have an unprecedented consultation in operation whereby they are proposing to raise council rents to 80% of market value or to the London Housing Allowance which will mean that many of those in need will not fit the criteria needed in order to qualify for a council house as the threshhold salary needed to be earned will be above the minimum salary allowed to qualify for need of a council home.

We believe that the intention of this policy is that Barnet Council – on paper – will be able to show that no one is applying for council housing, which therefore in theory cancels out the need for homes to be built. This will then achieve their real agenda, to get rid of future council housing in Barnet completely.

In different ways both West Hendon and Sweets Way residents are fighting backagainst this social cleansing. As well as the public inquiry West Hendon have a petition demanding to see the viability report, that all residents be re-homed on the estate if that is what they wish, and they now have over 130,000 signatures, the largest petition ever recorded in the history of Barnet Councils existence.

Sweets Way ex-residents have occupied an empty house and also have a petition demanding that the houses are not bulldozed and to be re-housed in the local area. Annington Homes have responded with a County Court Possession Oder but also an attempt to put an injunction on all the land. The case was adjourned to give us more time to prepare our case.

We need your support on Monday morning at the courts. Annington have a well-paid team of lawyers who will use every trick in the book to not only evict the Sweets Way social centre, but also to criminalise protest across the whole estate (where families are still living). This is potentially setting a very dangerous legal precedent for future housing protests and freedom of expression more widely.

Come out and make it clear that we won’t stand by as our right to protest is trampled with our right to decent homes. We will not give up quietly so regeneration can carry on unimpeded. We will continue to shine a light on the social cleansing at the heart of Barnet’s housing policies and Annington’s ‘redevelopment’ plans!

Monday 30th March, 9.30am, Barnet County Court, St Marys court, Regents Park Road, N3 1BQ

Sign the petition

http://www.huckmagazine.com/perspectives/reportage-2/russell-brand-sweets-way/

https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-put-our-homes-before-profit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFNCRPl_L_Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OXc814Q9ps

 

Day of Workshops about Eviction Resistance

Join uson Friday the 20th in Hoxton for a day of skillshares, organised with Focus E15 as part of the Radical Housing Network:
 
Eviction Resistance Skillshare Day
Date: Friday 20th March
Time: 12-6pm
Where: PEER Gallery, 97&99 Hoxton Street
 

*12-1pm: Screening of Sí Se Puede! - a how-to-guide to Eviction Resistance from the PAH anti-eviction movement in Spain

*1.30-3pm: Housing and Tenancy Law with Sue Lukes (incl. Migrant Housing Law)

*3.30-4.30pm: Practicalities and Legalities of Eviction Resistance:  contributions from Advisory Service for Squatters, and Legal Defence and Monitoring Group.

*4.30-6pm: Learning from our Experiences: PAH-style group casework session with contributions from Sweetsway Estate, HASL, Robin from Kilborn Unemployed Workers Group, Focus E15, Our West Hendon, Guinness Estate, Skills Network, DIGS, Radial Housing Network and more…

These workshops are especially aimed at residents who want to learn how to protect their homes and their Right to Housing. Friends and supporters of the residents are welcome too, obviously!

Residents of Sweets Way resisted an eviction by bailiffs!

Barnet Housing Action Group held an anti-eviction protest at Sweets Way Estate on the 16th of February, resisting the eviction of four families, some of the last remaining residents in this site of social cleansing. The Bailiffs got scared off – showed up and drove away.

The FIGHTBACK has begun!!

Residents holding banners and waiting for bailiffs

Residents moved on to Barnet House Council Office, getting it under lockdown for two hours: but Barnet residents and newly homeless were refused entry by security.

Two newly homeless people and a witness secured entry for a meeting with Housing Officers….who have promised (on video) that each affected family will be contacted for a meeting this afternoon and be offered suitable housing locally. More actions planned this week – help wanted, including anyone with legal/advocacy experience!

INCREASE IN EVICTIONS; UPSURGE IN RESISTANCE

**cross posted from rabble.org.uk**

DECEMBER 4, 2014

Just as the number of evictions in England and Wales soar to the highest levels since records began 14 years ago – up to 11,000 repossessions from July-September (that’s well over 100 per day) – it seems that housing struggles are also on the up again.

Map of London estates facing eviction

A show of solidarity prevented the eviction of a Newham mum and her three kids this morning, when a load of comrades confronted the bailiffs at the house, outnumbering them five to one. The bailiffs left and a meeting was arranged with the housing association, Notting Hill Housing, who agreed not to take any further action until January and to try and have the family re-homed in the borough asap.

Later in the day, a group called Lewisham Homeless Person’s Union confronted paper pushers and security guards at the council offices in Catford, demanding housing for the hundreds of homeless people in the borough. Security blocked access to most, but 3 people were able to meet with bureaucrats, the results if any of which are not yet known.

New Era 4 All is a campaign by residents of the New Era housing estate in Hoxton to keep their rents down. Tenancies there have been made more precarious since their homes were bought by the filthy rich scumbag private equity firm, Westbrook Partners, who are trying to raise rents there in line with market rates of the area, which would mean tenants paying around £2,400 a month. Residents and supporters marched to Westbrook’s offices in central London yesterday and handed them a petition to stop the rent hikes, supported by over 250, 000 signatures.

This new wave of energy is no doubt thanks in part to the tenacity and success of theFocus E15 mums campaign, which began after Newham Council cut funding to a hostel for vulnerable young mothers and their kids. The campaign led to the families getting re-homed in the borough and the creation of a temporary social centre from occupied homes on the Carpenters Estate, which became a hub of skill sharing and plotting for the two weeks of its existence. The Carpenters Estate itself is in the process of slowly being depopulated and demolished, but the publicity generated by the occupation led to some, short term, concessions being won – Newham Council agreed to house 40 people on the estate on a temporary basis.

We’ve also seen public sabotage from the Black Revs, who smothered anti-homeless spikes with concrete, while Class War picked a good target with 19 weeks of dogged protests against poor doors at the yuppie flats of One Commercial Street, forcing the owners into talks. In October, there was a roudy mobilisation against the MIPIM property fair/plunder in Kensington, as well as a counter conference.

The following month there was some good news for squatters too, as four more s144 defendants were acquitted when it proved too difficult for the prosecution to show that the property was designed or adapted for residential use before the occupation. See theAdvisory Service for Squatters for more on this.

Housing Action Lambeth & Southwark (HASL), who do grassroots solidarity work with people most screwed over by landlords, have issued a callout to support T and her family, who are facing homelessness by Southwark Council, at 2pm on Monday 8th at London Bridge. You can also join HASL’s eviction phone network here.

The E15 mums are holding a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate the energy, support and victories of the past year. They are inviting anyone who’d like to get active in this stuff and make more victories in 2015.

Successful eviction resistance this morning