Who’s side are you on?

2 May

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Mehmood Mirza is standing as an independent candidate for the Mayor of Newham.

At a Mayoral hustings last week, at which Mr Mirza did not appear in person – preferring instead to be represented by a member of his campaign team – the issue of his property portfolio was raised.

Despite posturing as a left-wing socialist Mehmood Mirza is a significant private landlord. He and his property company, Phoenix M Properties Ltd (No. 10216604), own or control at least 10 homes in Newham. Filings at Companies House show that Mr Mirza is the sole shareholder and director of the company.

The availability of good quality, affordable housing is a huge issue in Newham. According to the Office for National Statistics 35.5% of households in the borough live in the Private Rented Sector. Many of these homes suffer from overcrowding, disrepair and have poor standards of amenity and thermal efficiency at a time when energy costs are heading skywards. Combatting abuses by private landlords and improving standards has been a priority for the council under both the Wales and Fiaz administrations.

Were he to be elected, Mehmood Mirza would have a significant conflict of interest to manage between his role as Mayor in enforcing the Council’s policies on the Private Rented Sector and his role as a rentier property owner whose actions would be regulated by, er, himself.  It is unclear as to how he would resolve these conflicts.

Mirza has said very little about how he would treat the Private Rented Sector if he were elected as Mayor of Newham. His published leaflets are silent on the matter.

By contrast, the Labour manifesto for Newham is quite clear on its approach to the private rented sector, stating that the next Labour Council will:

  • Seek Government approval to extend the private landlord registration scheme for an unprecedented third term of 5 more years.  It will include all Temporary Accommodation.
  • Introduce an enhanced inspection regime for the private rented sector in Newham, zero tolerance of poor landlords and provide the staffing resources needed for rigorous enforcement activity.
  • Set clear property standards so that landlords have to provide high quality housing that has good space standards, is safe and well managed.
  • Place particular emphasis on establishing minimum standards of energy efficiency so that private rented homes meet EPC Band C where practical, cost effective and affordable and also have high standards of security. 
  • Campaign for a future Labour Government to introduce both rent controls and security of tenure, subject to cause, for private rented sector tenants.

So here are ten questions Mr Mirza needs to urgently answer ahead of the polls on Thursday:

  1. How many homes do you and any companies that you have an interest of any sort in, own in Newham?
  2. Do you charge more than the Local Housing Allowance to any of your tenants/occupants and by how many percent have you increased your rents in the last one, two, five and 10 years?
  3. Are (or have) any of the homes that you own/control /have a beneficial interest in ever been in a state of disrepair or had repairs outstanding for more than a short period of time?
  4. 35.5% of homes are in the Private Rented in Newham. How can the residents of these homes expect you to treat them fairly when you are a significant private landlord?
  5. As a significant private landlord, explain how there would be no conflict of interest between your role as a landlord seeking to maximise your profits and your role as Mayor policing the private rented sector in Newham and rooting out wrongdoing?
  6. If you were elected Mayor would you rid yourself of all interests in the property you own or control and, if so, how would you do this? If not, how would you resolve your conflicts as a private landlord with the responsibilities of the Mayorality?
  7. How would you ensure that all the decisions you made on the private rented sector were open and accountable to scrutiny?
  8. What lawful policies would you pursue as Mayor to increase the supply of social rented homes and reduce that of private rented homes?
  9. Do you agree that the Council should crack down on private landlords, campaign for security of tenure for private tenants and for rent controls? Should the Council issue Compulsory Purchase Orders on the homes operated by private Landlords in Newham who misbehave?
  10. How much income do you receive in either salary or dividends from the homes that you own/control/have a beneficial interest in, directly or indirectly, and is this the income that allows you to say that you will only take a Living Wage from the Council?

The people of Newham deserve answers. Will they be voting for someone who is on their side, or the side of landlords?

3 Responses to “Who’s side are you on?”

  1. Anon May 3, 2022 at 19:19 #

    >> Combatting abuses by private landlords and improving standards has been a priority for the council under both the Wales and Fiaz administrations.

    That is a stupid statement. Robin Wales is a hypocrite. Robin Wales would appear on TV after a housing bust bragging on TV about all he doing to improve housing.

    Did he improve my housing situation? Robin Wales along with the Council have blighted the local area, by supporting expansion of London City Airport. I can’t open windows due to aircraft noise. Walking in the park is unpleasant, as the air is foul with the smell of aviation fuel. Newham Labour have turned the area into a noise slum. It was never like this. Newham Labour failed in their basic duties to protect local residents. There were huge restrictions which were eroded.

    Did n’t housing standards matter then?.

    The same Planning officers who went on housing bust and telling journalists about beds-in-sheds, where also backing a further increase in flights from London City Airport. Newham Council was no better then slum landlords.

    F*** the residents was their attitude. They were working against residents.

    Name me one labour councillor under Labour who has been a champion for residents?

    Sadiq Khan and along with Stephen Timms backed expansion at London City Airport. The previous owners sold up the airport at huge provides to a Canadian pension funds. Whilst at the same time, Sadiq Khan was telling us about London’s poor air quality. That neighbours with the 2015 diesel car has to pay £15 ULEZ charge per day, whilst London City Airport jets can go about as they please.

    If the airport was so wonderful for the area, then why was Building 1000 / Newham Dockside empty for several years. It cost Newham residents £100million in buying a building no one wanted, but future residents will have to find a new home, as it is only a leasehold. It is made worse, when the chancellor gave tax break to businesses around the airport to regenerate them. That is millions lost by Newham Council in Business Rates.

    If Newham was sincere about improving the area, we would have seen an action plan before the London 2012 Olympics.

    Everything Newham Labour have done, is about keeping power.

  2. Anon May 5, 2022 at 11:40 #

    I don’t know why blogging space has been wasted on a candidate who is unlikely to win. You describe him as a Corbynite, then he also is a property owning landlord. Which is he?

    How many sitting Labour councillors, own property outside Newham? As those will not be declared on their register of interests.

  3. Anon May 5, 2022 at 13:01 #

    You have raised a number of housing issues. You are looking that symptom, not the cause.

    On my street, all the homes were owner occupied. Under the Blair Government things changed, when they let people on benefits rent private homes. In the past those in need would be stuck in B&B until a housing association or council home came up. At that time, Labour were in favour of private renting, as they could get people out of B&Bs.

    However, like all things socialism, once you hand out free sweets, demand exceed supply.

    An increase in landlordism has seen a change in neighbourhoods.

    In order to encourage more owner-occupiers, when a house comes up for sale, it should be offered first offered owner occupiers. If it has no interest in the first three weeks, then offered to prospective landlords. So we can re-dress the balance. There should be a ban on it being a rental property for three years.

    The Royal Docks and Beckton was regenerated, but Labour did n’t like it. They did not want Tory voters to move to the area. Some homes near me, were bought up by a subsidiary of Newham Council. Why did Newham council spend so much money in my street, rather than buying up ex-council properties which were half the price????

    Newham Council put in problems tenants in these properties. When my neighbhours down the road complained, I assumed they were just been snobbish due to the tenant being on benefits. I misunderstood the situation and was wrong. Newham Council put in some aggressive residents, who had even threatened to “punch my face”. That block of flats was 100% owner occupied. People were selling up. As of 2010, 100% of the flats are owned privately or by the council. The owners occupiers have gone. Whose fault is that?. My neighbours were well paid professionals left the area.

    We never got justice. Those problem neighbhours got away with their bad behaviour. Many of those social tenants have moved on and have been re-house elsewhere. No one is recording their behaviour. I am sure they have been given luxury flats in the Olympic park. At the moment we have peace. The current tenant in that council bought property does n’t cause issue. She is polite single mother with three kids.

    House Developers have to build an element of social housing. People who have moved into their new apartments, found people on the social housing apartments would throw eat fried chicken and throw bones out of their balconies onto their neighbours. Housing developers tried to address the issues, by segregation. Politicians don’t n’t like the idea of ‘poor doors’ to segregate. It made me angry. I will never buy into a block of flats, where there is social housing. I know the problems.

    I had a couple with a young baby near me. The kind of people who might feature on the Jeremy Kyle Show. They were unfit parents, constantly yelling and arguing with one another. No manners. Wife beater. The entire street could hear them fight. In one heated argument, the loser dad was shouting and told her we had baby, just to get a house!!!. I feel sorry for the child. The loser dad would be smoking cannabis, every night and this made him aggressive. I have him on camera, flytipping, but am I going to submit this to the authorities and put myself at risk?

    Many working people in Newham can’t afford a house £650k, but the politicians want me as a tax payer to pay for these losers to get a luxury home in the Olympic park?. Where is the fairness?. They contributed nothing to society. They will give nothing back.

    Why build more social homes? if the people who get them are not held accountable for their actions?. Where is the justice?. I can write a book about the things I have to put up with. I had people empty their child’s potty out the window. When I complained, I got abuse for complaining about it.

    Shopping trolleys left on the street. Condoms thrown out of out of windows. I have people jumping my garden and harras me, student coming in at 2am playing loud music, pop-up brothels, illegal sub-letting, people rigging door bells at 4am, gun fired fired in to a neighbhours street etc…

    I am fed up with anti-social behaviour over the years. This blog should get a FOI request and find out how many complaints of ASB and how many got evicted. How many residents got justice. How many of those who were previously evicted got council or new housing in the Olympic park,.

    I sometimes speak to the landlords, when they turn up. They usually get a list of complaints about their (ex)tenants. I tell them about the good and the bad ones. I was told by the landlord that people in Newham are playing the system. They destroy the home, so the landlord is forced to evict. Once, they are in temporary accommodation (at great expense to Newham Council) they become high priority for social housing. It is a trick to jump the council waiting list. He told he his tenants complained to local councillors and MPs about terrible housing conditions, so they could get social housing.

    They need to end building social housing. Where is the land?. There are homes in the North East for £20k. A home in Newham costs £650k. Newham Council could buy up 32 home in the North East for one the cost of a £650k Newham. Make it a volunteer system. Give to them rent free.

    Then you have the politicians trying to get rid of Section 21. This is the ability of a landlord to evict a tenants. Imagine if a problem tenant moved next door. You complain to their landlord, but the landlord says they don’t have the power to evict. Unless they have evidence. I have drug dealers move in next door. Am I going to provide a witness statement for the Courts? it could take months by that time, I would end up in hospital or have my windows broken. With a Section 21, it is a not questions asked eviction. You complain to the landlord. They investigate and evict without offering an explanation to the tenant. It protects residents like me. It takes a long time to evict.

    Temporary Accommodation is another big issues. There are specialist companies who rent out properties from private landlord. The landlords are promised guaranteed rent, but it is guaranteed problems for the neighbours. As the council dumps anyone they like. They don’t inform the landlord or their agent of the history of that tenant. Trying to get information is hard, as it is hidding by GDPR. I had another London council dump their problem tenant in Newham. It cause me misery. I have had to deal with knife wielding neighbours etc… . Police getting called in etc…

    There is not protection other then to sell up.

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