Tag: buy to let landlords

Out of sight, out of mind…

That has up until now, generally been the attitude of Thurrock Council when it comes to dealing with the growing problem of flytipping down alleyways across the borough. The attitude was that if it can’t be seen from the road, it’s not a problem, even though the lives of residents have been blighted by the alleyways behind their houses being blocked by flytipped trash. Well, according to this piece on Your Thurrock, the council may be having a change of mind about this: Thurrock Council pledge to undertake fly-tipping reviewhttp://www.yourthurrock.com/2017/07/17/thurrock-council-pledge-undertake-fly-tipping-review/ Mind you, it’s only a review so let’s not get too excited that we might be moving towards a solution on this…

On the subject of solutions, we’re reproducing in full a comment left after the Your Thurrock piece which makes some very useful practical suggestions but also expresses the poster’s utter frustration in dealing with the council:
1. Fire gates either end with keys distributed to all households. 2. Organising residents who wish to maintain the alleyways. 3. Up north most alleyways are now small communal gardens made by the residents. 4. Clean, organised alleyways deter dumping as tippers know they’re being watched. It also deters residents from dumping out their back gate. 5. Making the resident responsible for their allotted area of alleyway also helps. 6. Lighting would be good too as this seems to deter the drug users. Some councils have employed solar lighting to deter these and fly tippers. 7. Portable CCTV can be employed, again tippers never know if the cameras are live or not. Most people who live with alleyways behind their properties are sick of all the dumping and fly tipping. We live on one that when we moved in in 2000 was a lovely little alley, well kept and maintained. We have motorcycles that we store in the back of the garden and it was easy to get them out. Now it’s impossible to even walk down these alleys. We have contacted the council on numerous occasions telling of the needles from drug use in the alley, but they said they sent someone to a look, bit of a lie, as I was around when the inspector viewed it and he stood at the top of the alley then got in his car and drove off. I was told he even picked up some discarded needles. Oh no he didn’t. We, the neighbours have removed the needles ourselves. We even had a cat come home with one stuck in his paw. The trouble with this council is the attitude of “If it cannot be seen from the road, we do nothing”. That was exactly the words used when we complained over two years ago. As for our councillors, I have mailed all of them and had no reply. One was too busy being Mayor (Cathy Kent as mentioned in this article), the other (her husband) running for MP, and the third I don’t even know who he is. Waste of space if you ask me. Well, there you go. You want comments, now you hear it from the streets affected. I bet I’m not the only one that’s so angry with the “Clean up the Town and forget the outskirts” mentality of the council. Oh, and by the way, Mrs Kent. we now have spilled oil, welding gas canister, 3 bed frames plus mattresses, a couple of fridges, a washing machine and a sofa. There will be a TV next week, we’ll have all we need to set up home right there in the back alley. Coming round for tea? No, I thought not.
robbiep

Looking at the tenure of properties in areas affected by flytipping may also be an idea. From when we’ve been doing door-to-door deliveries of the Stirrer paper, it seems that there are some areas with a lot of buy to let properties with a fair few being rented out on short term leases. Add in an element of landlords who cut corners and get away with the bare minimum they’re obliged to do with some blatantly flouting the rules, then you may well have an explanation for where at least some of the flytipping is coming from. Whether Thurrock Council are prepared to spend time and resources chasing up rogue landlords is however, another matter.

As we’ve written before, a large number of buy to let properties in a neighbourhood is going to cause problems, particularly if a fair number of them are on short term leases: Where the new town dream has died…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/where-the-new-town-dream-has-died/ With people constantly moving in and out, there’s no community spirit or sense of belonging which is why flytipping becomes a major issue because the flytippers sense that no one cares and that they can get away with it. It goes back to the long term project of trying to rebuild community solidarity and addressing issues of tenure to introduce an element of stability back into neighbourhoods affected by these issues. That however, is unlikely to happen this side of a major political, social and economic change…

Where the new town dream has died…

On Wednesday 5th July, we started distributing the Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) flyer depicted below. Our first port of call was the ¾ estate in Vange. This was my first visit back to the ¾ estate for a couple of years and I was shocked at the state of the place…it’s way worse than anything I’ve ever seen in London… The ¾ estate has more than it’s fair share of problems ranging from neglect by Basildon Council and the shadowy, less than transparent operation of Circle Housing through to anti-social behaviour and what to all intents and purposes, looks like a collapse of community morale…

One of the problems on the ¾ estate is tenure… A lot of houses were brought by their tenants when the right to buy came in. The problem is that a few decades later, many of these properties have been brought up by buy to let landlords…some of who are total scumbags. Anecdotal evidence suggests that tenancies on a fair number of the buy to let homes are on short leases. One elderly resident we talked to said there were ‘a lot of comings and goings’… The feeling among the few long standing residents who remain is that the sense of community that used to be found on the estate disappeared long ago as the number of people moving in and out on short term leases increased. Instead of neighbourliness and solidarity, there’s fear, suspicion and a collapse of morale…

Then there’s the neglect by Basildon Council. Perhaps we should send them a map of the ¾ estate to remind them the place exists? There are issues with rubbish collection which have been going on for years and show no sign of ever being resolved. There are broken kerbs and potholes everywhere. As for the walkways and steps, apart from the fact that they appear to be going back to nature as the grass and weeds take over, there are numerous uneven and broken paving slabs that mean you need to keep your eye on where you’re walking to avoid tripping over…

Okay, that’s the public areas…another issue is the state of a significant minority of the homes on the estate… The phrase ‘no one gives a f***ing s**t’ and ‘how the f*** can people live like this?’ were being uttered by my comrade at frequent intervals as we delivered the flyers. A few properties looked as though their residents cared and still had some pride. A significant minority of them had overgrown, rubbish strewn, dog s**t covered front gardens. Granted, a lot of properties are on short term leases but…can the tenants not show some respect for their neighbours by at least making an effort to keep things tidy? It’s not just short term tenants who are the problem – we know there’s a significant minority of long term tenants who also appear to have given up making any effort to keep up appearances.

Morale on the ¾ estate has collapsed. It’s a massive task to try and turn the whole of the ¾ estate round and we (BASHA and the Stirrer) haven’t got the resources to do that. However, there’s one small corner where we have got a couple of contacts and we’re going to work with them on a community clean up. We’re talking about a strategy of turning round one small corner of the estate and using that as an example that we hope will eventually spread. At the same time, we’re going to start building up a picture of the tenure patterns on the ¾ estate, paying particular attention to the element of buy to let landlords who are taking the p***.

By initiating a community clean up in one small corner of the ¾ estate, we hope to start the long slog of re-building community morale and solidarity. Watch this space for developments…

Dave (the editor)

The destruction of community…

Epidemics of flytipping in neighbourhoods are an outward manifestation that all is far from well in the community. This report in the Echo about flytipping in the Westborough ward in Southend is one example of this: Road becomes infested with RATS after rubbish dumpedhttp://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/15258270.Road_becomes_infested_with_RATS_after_rubbish_dumped/ In the Echo report there’s a quote from the chair of the Westborough Community Association which speaks volumes – here it is: “There just isn’t a community in Westborough and we feel like we’re wasting our breath. People should be taking pride in their streets and helping to keep them clean.” Before we go any further, we’d like to make a plea to the Westborough Community Association to not give into despair and give up but to keep on plugging away because it’s grassroots groups like this that are holding the line in these troubled times.

We’ve seen this situation repeated across the area we cover. On the ¾ estate in Vange where we used to work with Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) on community clean ups, flytipping was rife as was confusion from certain residents about when to put their rubbish bags out for collection! When we were doing door to door distribution of the Stirrer paper in Grays at the weekend, it seemed that every back alley we looked up had piles of dumped furniture and carpets festering away.

We sympathise with the calls for people to show more civic pride and take more care of their community. In the atomised society we live in, it’s all to easy for some people to just care about themselves and not bother about what goes on beyond the front door. Our comrades at BASHA have on numerous occasions expressed their frustration with the minority of residents who don’t seem to care what happens in their neighbourhood and who refuse to take responsibility for anti-social actions such as flytipping. It’s something we’ve previously acknowledged on this blog: Show some pride and have some respect for your neighbours!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/show-some-pride-and-have-some-respect-for-your-neighbours/ However, while we acknowledge that calls for people to take more pride in their neighbourhoods and make an active effort to keep them clean have a role to play, they are only scratching at the surface of the problem…

The problem being the growing number of buy-to-let landlords who have a rogue element in their midst. In every neighbourhood we’ve seen that’s blighted by flytipping and anti-social behaviour, the common denominator is the presence of a significant minority of private landlords who don’t give a shit plus those who seem to specialise in short term lets. If a street has a significant number of properties available for private rent, it can lead to a significant churn in the local demographic with people coming and going and as a consequence, not putting down roots or becoming an active part of the community. Not that living somewhere on a short term let is any excuse to behave like a scumbag and flytip because it’s not! Although, in a fair few cases, it’s the rogue element of private landlords who are doing the flytipping…

This is what you get when housing is regarded as a financial asset rather than the essential roof over your head which is the starting point for you to take an active role in your community. A situation that’s exacerbated by an increasingly atomised society as people have no choice but to move hundreds of miles simply to find work. Then there are those who have been given no choice when it comes to being socially cleansed from London: The housing domino effect…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/the-housing-domino-effect/ To put it bluntly, things won’t change until there is movement towards replacing a dysfunctional political, economic and social system that among sins too numerous to mention, sees housing merely as a financial asset with one that’s more equitable, just and sustainable…