Council tenants and Leaseholders – experience based on Lambeth Council regeneration

The below has been kindly shared by another organisation, and raises some interesting and relevant points for Council tenants and leaseholders.

THE FOLLOWING IS A RESPONSE BY SU GOMER OF LAMBETH TO QUERIES RAISED BY MYATT’S FIELD NORTH TENANTS AND LEASEHOLDERS ABOUT THE RENTS BEING CHARGED IN THE NEW BUILD AND THE PARTICULAR PROBLEMS OF LEASEHOLDERS.

TENANTS TRANSFERRING TO THE NEW BUILD ARE FACING HIGHER RENTS BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT SETS THE TARGET RENT LEVEL, WHICH PARTLY DEPENDS ON THE CAPITAL VALUE OF THE FLAT OR HOUSE. THE OLD FLATS ARE PROBABLY VALUED AT AROUND £100,000 WHILE THE NEW BUILDS ARE VALUED AT £250,000 UPWARDS, SO ANYBODY MOVING IN HAS TO PAY A HIGHER RENT.

BY THE TIME AYLESBURY TENANTS ARE EXPECTED TO MOVE INTO THE NEW BUILD PROPERTIES, THE TARGET RENT SET BY THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE HIGHER STILL, WHILE WAGES AND HOUSING BENEFIT ARE LIKELY TO BE LOWER. THIS WILL LEAD TO A SITUATION WHERE AYLESBURY TENA NTS CANNOT AFFORD TO MOVE INTO THE NEW BUILD PROPERTIES.

NOTTING HILL HOUSING TRUST MAY SAY THAT THEY DO NOT WANT THE AYLESBURY TO END UP LIKE THE HEYGATE. BUT UNLESS RENTS ARE HELD DOWN TO AVERAGE SOUTHWARK LEVELS (ITSELF DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT POLICY), THAT MAY WELL COME ABOUT.

ALSO, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FLATS WHEN AYLESBURY TENANTS ARE UNABLE TO AFFORD THE RENT AND SEEK A MOVE TO CHEAPER COUNCIL PROPERTY. ARE THESE FLATS THEN OFFERED TO OTHERS ON THE WAITING LIST AT TARGET RENTS, OR DO THEY GET SWEPT UP INTO THE GENERAL HOUSING STOCK OFFERED FOR SALE BY BRYANT’S ?

AS FOR LEASEHOLDERS, TWO LEASEHOLDERS ON THE AYLESBURY ARE CHALLENGING THE VALUATIONS THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN BY SOUTHWARK’S VALUERS. THE GROUNDS OF THE CHALLENGE IS THAT SOUTHWARK HAS A CLEAR CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN USING ITS OWN VALUERS AND SHOULD USE INDEPENDENT VALUERS. A DECISION IS EXPECTED SOON.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

LAMBETH’S REPLY TO TENANTS AND LEASEHOLDERS IN THE PFI SCHEME AT MYATT’S FIELD NORTH

i refer to your enquiry  of 13th April, regarding  the issues that you have raised relating to Myatts Field North, in particular the process for rent setting .I understand that you did not receive a response to your enquiry for which I apologise. Cllr Robbins has now handed over to Cllr Bennett who is currently on leave. Please accept the response from myself, copied to Cllr Bennett.

Whilst Residents of Myatts Field are benefitting from refurbished and new homes, I also understand the pressures that this has brought to the community and the Council is doing all that it can to ensure that rents are affordable and increase levels of support for Residents.

The Council must set rents in accordance with Government direction otherwise we could be penalised in a number of ways. The Council through consultation with tenants and mindful of keeping rents as low as possible to support Tenants who are juggling the many calls on their pockets set the lowest rent increase that it could of 4.9% and froze most service charges. As agreed during the consultation before Myatts Field Regeneration started, the Council as opposed to Regenter would set rents and these would be at Target rents as opposed to Affordable rent levels. The focus on maintaining Target rents   was agreed in the Tenancy Strategy, so as to ensure that rents remain affordable for families on low income.

The issue relating to Myatts Field Tenants is that where they have moved to a New Build home rents are set based on the valuation of a new build home which is higher than for existing homes. There is no difference in the valuation for Tenants moving into a newly refurbished home. The differences between new build and other rents are as follows;

1 bed-£10.57, 3 bed maisonette -£14.72, 3 bed house, £39.60, 4 bed house £39.19. The average increase is £14.72 per week. Tenants can exercise a choice of moving to a new build, or to other properties within Lambeth. All are supported in ensuring that all benefits are claimed, even if they have not previously been eligible.  As at end April, there were 49 Notice Seeking Possession, 42 Tenants have arrears over £500.

The Council considered the implications of paying Transitional relief to support Tenants facing rent increases when Government rent fixing was introduced, and again reconsidered for Myatts Field in 2012. It was felt that the focus should be on supporting Tenants who may experience difficulties in paying the rent, debt counselling and benefit support.

I do realise that this is a difficult time for Tenants of Myatts Field and whilst rent data shows that generally arrears are decreasing, ongoing support is offered to all specifically those who are having difficulties in paying the rent. The Council closely monitors actions taken by Regenter.

You refer to historic capital receipts, Cabinet during its meeting of June 2006, agreed the application of the £2.9 million historic capital receipt to the MFN PFI Project for the specific purpose of the preliminary funding for the repurchase of lease/ freeholders whose homes will need to be demolished in order to deliver Decent Homes. This is through the PFI contract implemented through Regenter. In essence the Project Development Agreement that sits alongside the PFI

Contract provides that that any income, including contract penalties, is fed in as a ‘cash flow’ to the contract.
The Cabinet member has requested monthly briefings on the performance of Regenter and will continue to scrutinise the above to ensure that the balance of progressing the Myatts Field Regeneration scheme and supporting Residents whilst doing so is maintained.

Yours sincerely
Su Gomer
Lead Commissioner –Housing

What to do if you have any thoughts about the Consultation.

Email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors;

Peter Carpenter – pcarpenter@wandsworth.gov.uk

Jeremy Ambache – JAmbache@wandsworth.gov.uk

Sue McKinney – SMcKinney@wandsworth.gov.uk

Please do copy us in at roeregeneration@yahoo.com as we’d love to see how this ‘consultation’ progresses and what concerns the residents of the estate. Or email us separately.

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