On Tuesday 14 March, protesters from Housing Rebellion will meet in London to conduct “unannounced site visits” of property companies and landlords. The move is set to shine a light on practices which aren’t just bad for tenants but also deadly for the planet:
— @Homes4AllUK (@homes4alluk) March 5, 2023
Rebellion against landlords
Housing Rebellion is a new offshoot of Extinction Rebellion (XR). The group exists to highlight the fact that many of the anti-tenant policies that landlords get away with are also having an enormous impact on the environment. The protest will coincide with the opening day of MIPIM (Le Marché International des Professionnels de L’immobilier). This is the “world’s largest property fair”, according to the group. They add that MIPIM has:
controversially attracted politicians from across local and national governments to strike lucrative deals with private companies on public land and housing.
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The organisers also said:
The agenda has lots of guff about climate change and affordable housing, but according to ‘London at MIPIM’ their aim is to promote the “investment potential the city is able to offer global capital”.
We suspect Global Capital measures their investment returns in cold hard cash (not in units of carbon saved or in the number of people securely housed), so Housing Rebellion has decided to take a closer look at some of these companies being courted by our elected representatives.
The protesters outlined some of the survey questions they intend to pose to the companies:
- Is this company involved in the demolition of social housing? displacing communities and leading to the waste of huge amounts of embodied carbon.
- Does this company create new buildings which use polluting resources and building methods? instead of prioritising refurbishment, recycling and sustainable materials.
- Does this company engage in shameless greenwashing? Eg. talking about zero-carbon buildings without accounting for any of the emissions created by the materials or building methods in construction, resulting from demolition, or paid for by ‘carbon offsets’; talking about biodiversity while felling mature trees.
- Does this company create housing which is unaffordable to the majority of people? leading to even greater waste of resources by selling to speculators and wealthy elites who use them as second homes, luxury holiday lets, or even leave them empty as a store of wealth.
- Does this company recruit staff who have previously worked in local government or pay huge donations to sitting politicians? undermining democracy and corrupting the planning process to prioritise profit over the interests of people and our planet.
The organisers also outlined their demands – termed “Enforcement Actions” – for when companies were found to be at fault:
- SHUT THEM DOWN
2. Refurbish Don’t Demolish
3. Create low-energy, low-cost, warm, dry homes for all
4. Housing for people and planet not profit
A press release from Housing Rebellion featured quotes from those who’ve chosen to speak out against landlords.
Among them was Andrea, who works with homeless people in London:
I am protesting against the developers because the housing they’re building is unaffordable, unsafe and leading people to be placed outside of their community networks because they can’t afford to live in these homes
Meanwhile, Johnnel was angry that his home is due to be demolished by a housing association:
Despite the ongoing whopping cost of living crisis battering the wallets and purses of everyone, Peabody still has greedy eyes on our properties – not to improve them for us, but to drive us off and use the land to build more expensive housing beyond the pockets of the residents. This is an unfit dreadful project in this economic turmoil and only callous people can advocate this madness.
Likewise, Alex’s landlords recently evicted them in a no-fault eviction:
I’m protesting against developers because since being evicted with eleven others from my home of two years in Wimbledon, I have looked at new developments in south London in vain for a new home, discovering they are a pyramid-selling scheme; shared ownership is for people with a minimum income of £30,000 nearly twice my income, and rented flats have required an income of £8,000 more than my teaching assistant salary.
Finally, Sabine is campaigning for her estate in Lambeth to be refurbished not demolished:
Savills is a yellow thread that runs through the destruction of social housing in Lambeth and other local authorities in the UK. The company submitted to the Government a paper on unlocking huge revenue by redeveloping council estates that has also fed into local government policy. It carries out housing stock assessments for councils and advises them on their future housing plans. At the same time, Savills has a massive portfolio of investors ready to benefit from the thousands of luxury homes built in these developments.
The action will take place at 12 noon on Tuesday 14 March in the Millennium Gardens beside Waterloo Station (opposite the Old Vic).
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