Following the events on the Ledbury Estate, some residents of the four tower blocks have chosen to take legal action against their landlord, Southwark Council, in relation to serious matters of disrepair over the years, as well as the issues discovered in 2017 relating to fire safety, cracks affecting walls, floors and ceilings, and the discovery that the blocks do not meet the minimum standards for resistance to disproportionate collapse.
Labour-run Southwark Council referred the matter to their in-house legal department. Their response to the Ledbury Estate residents is morally abhorrent.
In letters of reply to the residents of the Ledbury Estate, Southwark's lawyers say:
'As a general principle, the standard of repair under the covenant is such repair as, having regard to the age, character and locality of the premises, would make them reasonably fit for the occupation of a reasonably-minded tenant of the class who would be likely to take them: Proudfoot v Hart. In the instant case: The character of the building and locality is of:
(a) Social housing
(b) In a tower block
(c) In SE15
We contend that, notwithstanding your client alleges that the “cracks” were present when the tenancy was granted, they do not appear to have required any remedy other than filling and, when put against the factors listed above, this results in a conclusion that, notwithstanding any physical deterioration since construction, no valid claim for breach of covenant to repair could succeed.”
There are a number of highly disturbing factors to this response from Southwark:
1) Southwark have cited Victorian caselaw (Proudfoot v Hart 1890.) An era when slum landlords were rife
2) It finds that working class people should put up with lower standards than others (see reference to 'class')
3) It finds that Social Housing tenants should put up with worse conditions than other tenants
4) It finds that people living in tower blocks should put up with worse conditions than those living in other types of buildings
5) It finds that people living in SE15 (Peckham) should put up with worse conditions that those living elsewhere.
Do our Southwark Labour Councillors agree with the findings of their Law and Democracy department? Is this a reflection of the true beliefs and attitudes that this Labour council has towards working class people living in social housing in Southwark? Southwark Labour certainly seem to say all the right things, so why are they reverting to pompous Victorian attitudes and treatment of their working class constituents in practice?