Councillors criticise private company’s failure to provide “basic information” about its proposals to take over council housing on the Lothian estate

Local councillors have expressed their concern that a private, for-profit company attempting to take control of local council homes on the Lothian estate has failed to provide basic information about its plan, including how they plan to fund housing repairs and who is behind its takeover bid.

Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Reducing Homelessness, expressed her disappointment in a letter to council tenants last week. Cllr Kay laid out six key and “basic” areas where the private company have failed to provide sufficient information for a ballot to be held on whether council homes should be transferred to their control.

In the early autumn, Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, supported by PACCA TMO, announced their intention to try and take over ownership of council homes on the Lothian estate, despite the organisation having no track record of running council housing elsewhere in the country. A ballot of council tenants would need to be held to approve the transfer of the council homes from Lambeth Council to the private company. In November, Cllr Kay wrote a strongly worded letter to tenants warning these proposals could leave them worse off financially. In addition, local councillors Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop have raised concerns that leaseholders, owing to national legislation, will be excluded from the ballot, but will have their leases transferred to this private company should tenants vote “yes” to the proposals in a ballot. Cllr Gadsby and Cllr Gallop have also expressed their concern that the delay caused by Vision Homes Ltd is resulting in stress to the local community, with residents being left in limbo about the future of their homes.

A full copy of Cllr Kay’s letter to residents can be read below.

Dear Resident,

The Future of Your Home – Proposed Right to Transfer Application by PACCA TMO and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Limited

I am writing to provide you with an update on PACCA TMO Ltd (PACCA TMO) and their current partner Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd’s proposals to take over the ownership and management of your homes in the Lothian Estate and others in and around Patmos Road.

This proposal is a result of national legislation which means PACCA TMO are able to submit a Right to Transfer application on 284 council and leasehold properties in the area, and conduct a ballot of residents on their proposals.

Lambeth Council does not support this proposal, but under the Right to Transfer rules it has no option other than to comply with holding a ballot. We cannot stop the proposal simply because we believe you would be worse off if the transfer proceeds.

Before a ballot can take place, PACCA TMO and Vision Homes must develop an offer document. The document should clearly set out what Vision Homes aims to do to the estate and comparing this with what would happen if the properties’ ownership remained with Lambeth Council. This document was due to be sent out to you before Christmas for consideration.

Following several months of chasing PACCA TMO and Vision Homes on the specifics of their plans and asking straight-forward questions on their proposals, Vision Homes have not provided sufficient information or explanations to meet the requirements set out by the Government. These outstanding issues include:

  • Insufficient information has been provided about whom the company would borrow capital from to fund its promises to you, the length of their loan repayments, and what safeguards are in place if they cannot repay the money borrowed.
  • It is unclear what household repairs and home improvements will be offered to residents. Each tenant should be able identify the works that will be carried out to their home if the transfer goes ahead.
  • The identity and status of your potential new landlord remains unclear.
  • A lack of information as to how tenants, community stakeholders and elected councillors will be selected on to a board that oversees the management of the estate and street properties – and how these members will be chosen in the future.
  • Who is sitting on the shadow board pushing forward this proposal, including information about their relevant experience.
  • A lack of information on other properties and estates managed by Vision Homes, so that tenants have an idea of their track record.

We are disappointed that PACCA TMO and Vision Homes have not been forthcoming with some of these really important questions. We will continue to ask these questions and more information has been requested to finalise the offer document for you to consider. Until then, this means that any ballot on the proposal is now delayed.

We will write to you in the New Year with an update on this proposal and any agreed next steps. We apologise for the delay, but it is important that residents have all the information so that you can make an informed decision.

I wish you and your families all have a happy Christmas break, and a happy New Year. If you have any queries on this proposed transfer, you can contact the Council on a dedicated line: 07565 219058.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Maria Kay

Cabinet Member for Better Homes and Reducing Homelessness