No aspirations? No social housing.
Yarlington Housing Group decided to abandon lifetime tenancies in favour of seven-year fixed-term ones that come with a Household Ambitions Plan. They explain:
The sHAPe agreement will be tailored to meet the needs of new tenants and could cover the following areas:
- employment, education and training
- skills for life
- health and wellbeing
- your responsibilities as a Yarlington tenant
It is now obligatory to share your plans with the landlord in the name of building communities. It happens during “verification process” before you even sign the lease. Renewal of your tenancy agreement will depend on how well you did.
I got used to private landlords setting conditions: no DSS, no students, no pets, no smoking. They are justifiable to an extent: they want their rent paid on time, no wild parties that would upset the neighbours and the house not needing a thorough redecoration at the end of your six-month stay. However, they are also discriminatory and feed stereotypes. I think the poor should be protected by law from such treatment. We are limited by what we can afford to rent. The landlord should not restrict our choices to have pets or further our education.
However, what Yarlington is doing certainly amounts to a gross invasion of privacy, which I find abusive. Considering that you are most likely to qualify for social housing when you are vulnerable (disabled, homeless and/or under threat of violence), it is entirely inappropriate to impose such conditions.
I do not see how my quitting smoking or losing weight is going to benefit the community in any way. Whether I work or not has no impact on my neighbours whatsoever. I do not believe that a housing association is equipped in any way to help me with that other than by referring me to existing agencies. If I decide to change something about myself, I will do it without landlord’s intervention. I do not need to have it forcibly written into my tenancy agreement.
What will be next? Wearing your Sunday best to take out rubbish? Banning divorcees and single parents as they set bad examples and might split existing family units? Enforcing church attendance as it fosters better communities? “Volunteering” ten hours a week on community-related activities?
Yarlington Housing seem to be trying to create a Stepford-style community and, in my view, it basically amounts to social cleansing. It seems it’s just a matter of time before other social housing providers follow in their footsteps.