Advertisement
Housing

‘I am scared of being homeless’: Residents protest over doubling of rents

Property guardians from across London protested outside the offices of Dot Dot Dot over plans to hike rents by 113 per cent. But the social enterprise said it must put up fees to keep up with rent rises.

Property guardians have launched a protest against a social enterprise set up to tackle the housing crisis over plans to double fees.

Members of London Renters Union headed to the east London offices of Dot Dot Dot on Thursday to protest against the rises, which protesters claim will be as much as 113 per cent – and come amid the cost of living crisis.

Property guardians live in properties that would otherwise be left empty, with Dot Dot Dot set up in 2011 to provide housing for people who volunteer for good causes.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.

The social enterprise confirmed it has been undergoing a review of fees over the past quarter to bring them up to 50 to 70 per cent of local private rental prices.

But one of the protesters, Ashley Little, who lives in a property due for demolition in Abbey Wood, south-east London, said the rises make the temporary nature of property guardianship untenable. 

Big Issue Foundation

Donate to support vendors today

Your gift today will mean Big Issue vendors will get the support they need to progress forward in life. You will be supporting vendors in key areas including housing, finance, mental health and employment.

Little said: “Many of us choose property guardianship for the greater financial stability afforded by the lower rents.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“However, if you add near-market rents to the equation, you’re adding financial stress and precarity on top of a precarious housing situation.”

Protesters told The Big Issue they have been in discussions with Dot Dot Dot for weeks, asking for fee increases to be capped at five per cent.

property guardians protest
Protesters say putting up fees as the cost of living crisis hits will leave people at risk of homelessness but the social enterprise said it must keep up with the housing market to keep the business sustainable. Image: London Renters Union

They also called for the withdrawal of eviction notices allegedly served against property guardians who did not sign up to the new terms and an extension of notice periods from 28 days – as is common for private guardianships – to two months.

James Foulds, a guardian on Thamesmead Estate in Abbey Wood, said: “I’ve been in deep shock about these proposed increases. It’s not what I expect from an organisation that emphasises care for the community. They seem to have completely lost sight of their core values.”

Article continues below

Rosemary Tawiah, who also lives in Abbey Wood, added: “I am very frustrated and anxious about all that is going on. This issue is really draining me mentally; I can’t focus at work, I can’t sleep well nowadays, I can’t eat well and it’s affecting my health. I am scared of being homeless.”

In response to the protestors’ allegations, Dot Dot Dot told The Big Issue that without the fees review the “business will not be sustainable”.

The social enterprise said new fees range from £325 to £880 a month and that guardians have had 10 weeks’ notice of changes.

Dot Dot Dot added that a fees increase had been planned in early 2020 but was paused due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This meant that fees remained static for three years in many cases as rents have continued to rise at the fastest rate on record in the last year.

The lack of affordable housing in the UK is to blame, according to Dot Dot Dot’s founder Katharine Hibbert.

“In the context of the ongoing housing crisis, Dot Dot Dot is doing what we can to provide inexpensive housing to people who want to use their time to help others,” said Hibbert.

“We would love to see the government working seriously to address the lack of affordable housing in the UK. Until that happens we will continue our work to be a commercially sustainable social enterprise that provides homes for guardians.”

Advertisement

Bigger Issues need bigger solutions

Big Issue Group is creating new solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunities for the 14.5 million people living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. Big Issue Group brings together our media and investment initiatives as well as a diverse and pioneering range of new solutions, all of which aim to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. Learn how you can change lives today.

Recommended for you

Read All
Sadiq Khan's Right to Buy-back scheme leads to return of 1,500 council homes
Right to Buy

Sadiq Khan's Right to Buy-back scheme leads to return of 1,500 council homes

This evaporating pavement art is highlighting how heatwaves are a threat to rough sleepers
UK HEATWAVE

This evaporating pavement art is highlighting how heatwaves are a threat to rough sleepers

People with experience of homelessness are being given jobs in the NHS to help others
Homelessness

People with experience of homelessness are being given jobs in the NHS to help others

Buying a home in the UK is more expensive than ever. When will house prices go down?
House Prices

Buying a home in the UK is more expensive than ever. When will house prices go down?

Most Popular

Read All
All the places where kids can eat free during the summer holidays
1.

All the places where kids can eat free during the summer holidays

This Twitter bot is exposing celebrities taking three-minute private jet flights
2.

This Twitter bot is exposing celebrities taking three-minute private jet flights

Will free school meals and vouchers be offered over the summer holidays?
3.

Will free school meals and vouchers be offered over the summer holidays?

Estate agents caught saying they don't rent homes to people on benefits
4.

Estate agents caught saying they don't rent homes to people on benefits

Keep up to date with the Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.