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Evicted tenant sets up protest camp outside housing association’s offices

Genesis criticised for rent increases

12 April, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Carolyn Mandelson set up a tent and protest placards in Pratt Street

A WOMAN set up a camp outside a housing association’s head office in an eviction protest.

Carolyn Mandelson blamed Genesis – which recently merged with Notting Hill Housing to form the new Notting Hill Genesis – for rising rent and service charges that made her “shared ownership” deal unaffordable.

Throughout Monday and Tuesday, the 59-year-old spoke out about her case through a megaphone in Pratt Street, Camden Town.

Ms Mandelson said: “I thought Genesis would put up my rent by inflation, not add steep rises every year along with astronomic service charges. I told Genesis I couldn’t afford it, but this social landlord called in the bailiffs. From this week I am going to be out on the street.”

Shared ownership schemes typically involve taking out a mortgage on 25 per cent of a new-build home, with rent paid to a social housing provider on the remain­ing 75 per cent. The schemes were set up to help young professionals get onto the property ladder.

Ms Mandelson, who is diabetic, said she had worked for 40 years and most recently “as one of those people who offer you a taste of wine in Sainsbury’s”. She bought the one-bedroom flat, in Colindale, 10 years ago after agreeing terms with the housing association Genesis and Barclays. She said: “They should never have given me a mortgage. With the charges now it’s more than £1,500 a month, for a one bed flat.”

Having been approved for the deal shortly before the banking crash in 2008, Ms Mandelson said her service charge had gone up 234 per cent. The latest increase had “tipped her over the edge” and she was due to be evicted on Thursday. She had been through the courts but had no legal representation because of legal aid cuts.

A Notting Hill Genesis statement said: “The former resident fell into significant arrears and, despite many proactive attempts to assist her, including meetings with her at our offices and interventions by our tenancy support team, failed to stick to her payment plan. We attempted to contact her on numerous occasions offering to discuss various other options.”

It added: “We have also been in contact with the mortgage lender to assist with clearing the arrears on repayments. Unfortunately, the resident has not agreed to explore these sug­gest­ions. Regrettably, due to the current extent of the arrears, eviction proceed­ings have had to be commenced by Barclays.”

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