Meet the social housing activist campaigning for tenants' rights in the UK

Every day, low-income residents around the UK deal with vermin, mould, flooding and more in their social housing units.
Every day, low-income residents around the UK deal with vermin, mould, flooding and more in their social housing units. © Observers

Our Observer, Kwajo Tweneboa, didn't become an activist by choice. Instead, he began campaigning for tenants' rights after living in a London council house for years with his dying father and two sisters. After watching his father being cared for by nurses in a flat that was infested with cockroaches, mice, rats and asbestos, Tweneboa began travelling around the UK to document the conditions in social housing and push developers to improve them.


Active on Twitter and TikTok, Tweneboa shares photos and videos of the squalid conditions in flats, including mould, leaks, flooding, vermin and collapsed roofs. 

I've been into homes that have been flooded with raw sewage and tenants are forced to live in it. You name it, I've seen it. I've taken people to hospital because part of a ceiling collapsed on a lady as she was dishing up and serving her dinner in her kitchen. There was a disabled tenant, for example, a disabled man that went nearly a year without a toilet on his property because they wouldn't come and fix it.

And his posts are spurring landlords into action, after decades of neglect. In one case in February 2022, after posting a video of cockroach-infested housing on social media, the family who lived there was moved out to a hotel within 24 hours by L&Q, a leading residential developer, and has since been allocated a new permanent allocation.


>> Read more on The Observers: Meet the British activist campaigning for tenants: 'They should be treated like human beings'

The roots of Britain's housing crisis can be traced back decades to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's government and the Housing Act of 1980. Since then, social housing stocks have decreased, forcing many low-income households into the lower end of the private rental market, where they have even fewer rights than social renters. Tweneboa told us that many tenants living in poor conditions don’t feel like they can complain, as private landlords can issue no-fault eviction notices without giving a reason.

Sadly, in the UK, we see time and time again every now and again a story crop up where people are dying in their homes as a result.

I'm receiving people telling me they're living in similar conditions, not just in the UK, but from Northern Ireland, from Paris. I've had people reach out from the United States. So they've seen the work I've been doing over here.  And what shocks me the most is the amount of people able to relate to it, not just in the UK but beyond, and people living in similar conditions, if not even worse.