Who are One Housing Group?
One Housing Group (OHG) are Islington Park St Community’s (IPS’s) landlord. They are one of the largest registered providers of social housing in the south-east.
OHG (formerly known as Community Housing Association) became our landlord in 2005, when they purchased Patchwork Housing Association’s portfolio for £1.
Why do OHG want to evict the community?
OHG are stating that they wish to evict the community due to “management irregularities”, which “contravene a number of housing regulations.” They also state that “group homes” must be “phased out.”
These assertions do not stand up to scrutiny. As we have repeatedly stated to OHG over the years, we want to work with them to normalise our management arrangement. However, OHG has refused to engage with us on that basis, and as a result we have been unable to clarify our tenancies or relationship with them.
If OHG would agree to enter into dialogue with residents, we could rectify any issues and there would be no need to evict residents from the property.
In fact, it seems most likely that our house has been targeted for sale and that this is what is fueling OHG’s efforts to evict us from our home. OHG have refused to state this explicitly, but they have not ruled out the possibility that this is their motivating force.
While there is now some government pressure for empty houses of value to be sold for asset management purposes, there is no legal or moral justification for forcing us from our home for no reason other than profit.
How much do IPS residents earn?
As set out in our allocations policy, applicants must earn under £23,000 per annum in order to be considered for a vacancy. Notably, most of our residents earn significantly less than this amount.
Do people join the community from the council’s waiting list?
Historically, Patchwork took referrals from the council and also had their own waiting list, and we would fill many of our vacancies from these lists. We also took referrals from social services and other support organisations. One of our current residents was a social services referral.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing difficulties in our relationship with OHG, we are currently unable to take people from the council’s waiting list. We last approached the council on this issue in 2010, they informed us that we could not take referrals until the situation with OHG had been resolved.
We have always made it clear to OHG that we would welcome the opportunity to redevelop a referral programme with them and/or Islington Council to enable those in most need to have easier access to our vacancies. We believe that many vulnerable people would welcome the opportunity to live in supportive communal housing, if they were given the opportunity.
Our local councillors, including Caroline Russell (Green councillor and London Mayoral candidate) and Gary Poole (Labour councillor for our local ward), stand firmly in support of the community. We are hopeful that in the future we will be able to work with the council and OHG to develop a suitable referral scheme.
In the meantime, we have a clear and transparent allocations policy and all applications are assessed in accordance with this policy.
Is it true that OHG are refusing to discuss alternative options to an eviction?
Unfortunately, at present, yes. We have always been clear that we are willing to talk to OHG. However, the only conversation they want to have with us is how to facilitate “decanting” us from our home.
In 2010, when OHG last attempted to evict the community, we entered into mediation, in an attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution.
In their recent correspondence, and on social media, OHG have attempted to blame the community for the failure of mediation. However, it was One Housing Group who walked away from the mediation process.
We have responded to all correspondence from OHG. We have explained that we want to reopen discussions following their withdrawal from mediation. However, OHG have insisted that they will only engage in dialogue on the basis of “arranging as smooth and efficient a decant process as is possible.”
We are hopeful OHG’s position may now be changing as a result of public and political pressure. We have invited them to meet with us in our home to discuss ways forward.
Who sets your rent?
As is the case for all tenants, our landlord (OHG) is responsible for setting our rent.
Historically, our rent was always set in accordance with government guidance for social landlords. This changed in 2010 when OHG served the community with the first notice to quit. From this time onward, OHG have chosen not to subject us to any rent rises.
Are you tenants?
Yes; we believe that we are.
Residents pay rent a set rent to OHG every month and OHG accept this payment. OHG carries out maintenance on the property and, until last year, replaced white goods at the property.
Historically, Patchwork (our previous landlord) referred to us as tenants, both in our rent statements and in other correspondence. Members of the community even sat as tenant representatives on Patchwork’s management board for over a decade. As recently as 2011, OHG invited residents to attend their tenant participation day, which we did.
The community was set-up as a permanent group home, and it was Patchwork’s intention to give residents a tenancy for life. A significant number of our residents have been here for several decades. Some of us were here before the 1988 Housing Act came into force; these residents may even be “secure tenants”.
In spite of all of this, OHG are trying to claim that we are only licensees. They are stating this because they want to evict the community from the property. We invite OHG to produce a written document proving their assertion.