A desolate Guinness estate in Loughborough Park in Brixton seemingly comes to life in the evenings when just a few lights in the windows strive to brighten a dim landscape. Most of the tenants have already left. They have been rehoused by Guinness after the tenants campaign and occupation. Still not everybody was so lucky.
Marian is a Guinness Trust assured shorthold tenant (AST) and she has been living in Kenwood House in Loughborough Park since 2007. Due to the ongoing regeneration of the estate she received a Section 21 notice last year but the court stopped the possession order against Marian and ordered compensation due to damp and the general bad condition of the flat. She received the compensation and was moved to a flat in a better condition in the same building.
This year, at the turn of February and March all her neighbours started to receive possession order letters, but not her. She contacted the Guinness Housing Office when her neighbours had been offered alternative accommodation but she had not been made any offers. She was told that a flat had been offered to her but she had turned it down. A day before she had received a call from Guinness and she was told that Guinness would see what they could do with her case. This phone call was classified by Guinness as an offer. After Marian attempted to clarify the situation this phonecall was reclassified as a misunderstanding.
On the 12th of June Marian received a letter stating that she was next to be rehoused but after two weeks a possession order arrived. Additionally, Guinness informed her that they cannot rehouse her as she has ‘no recourse to public funds’ and referred her to Lambeth Council.
Soon after she received a call from the Lambeth Moving on Team and she was offered help with finding private accommodation. She contacted private landlords who told her that she does not meet their eligibility criteria due to her low salary. Therefore the Lambeth Moving on Team offered to help her find private accommodation outside of London.
Her attempts to contact Guinness housing officers were unsuccessful as they were constantly in meetings, and nobody at Guinness wanted to speak with her. Now she has discovered that the transfer application form she sent to them in April is not on her Guinness file. Very recently Marian received a call from the Guinness Housing Manager who informed her that “the clock is ticking”…
Marian arrived in London in 2004 from Nigeria. She is a single mother of two young children (8 and 4) and she works as a healthcare assistant in a hospital. Marian could be rehoused but instead Guinness decided to threaten her with eviction which would mean losing her home and possibly also her job and her friends and expose her and her children to unmeasurable stress. Marian does not want a house for free she just wants one she can afford. Marian says that during the past consultations with Guinness about the regeneration of the estate the tenants received a verbal agreement about rehousing but Guinness did not honour this. After the tenants campaign and protest occupation Guinness decided to keep their word but not to everyone. Marian is perfectly conscious that “the clock is ticking” without Guinness’ reminder. Still for her the clock is relentlessly ticking as she is facing either homelessness or loss of her present life which she had to overcome many problems to achieve. Unless Guinness fulfils their promise.