- Rita Begum
Press Release | How Covid19 Affects Housing Needs in Westminster
Over the past year, COVID has caused the deaths of over one-hundred-thousand people - hundreds of whom were living in Westminster. Many people are now questioning how housing need is linked to COVID deaths.
Westminster is one of the most diverse Boroughs in London - with a complex mix of people from different cultures and traditions. Many of our residents live within extended families – mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children - even cousins, aunts, and uncles.
However, the oldest member of the family is often the original tenant of a Council owned property. And, as we know, Covid has attacked and killed the elderly far more than the young.
So, in Westminster, when the original tenant dies, it leaves the rest of the family with no right to the tenancy and nowhere to live.
The law states that ‘only one succession is permitted for each property - meaning that it is not possible to succeed into a property where the deceased tenant had already succeeded into it. Families affected can then be evicted, often to unknown parts of the country. However, in Westminster, the Council may allow some additional family members to succeed to a tenancy in limited circumstances. This is called a discretionary succession.
As we know, Conservative Westminster Council and the Government have consistently failed to build enough social housing to help those most in need – leading to our city witnessing an explosion in ‘luxury flats/ apartments’ being built for purchase.
The limited money for 'affordable' housing often leads to providing homes for rent still beyond the reach of ordinary families.
And in this time of Covid we are likely to see more and more families being affected by this change – with all the consequential loss to social networks – local employment, church, and voluntary contributions within the community; primary/ secondary education, gradings, and personal health status with local GPs.
Covid is having a much wider impact on family housing. Westminster must to review its policies; halt current practices of avoiding the need to address housing for extended families and, apparently, working like an estate agency.
In one local case in Queen’s Park, the son, having lived with his mother, father, two sisters, and a brother in Westminster for over 40 years has been confronted with this policy. His father died a few years ago and the tenancy was transferred to his mother. Subsequently, his brother and sisters moved out and he, along with his wife and 3 children, started to live with the mother. She died of Covid earlier this year and he and his family were issued with a Notice to Quit by Westminster in February.
I call upon Westminster to act in favour of this family.