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

Lothian estate residents will be left “worse off” if stock transfer goes ahead

Secure tenants and leaseholders on the Lothian estate will be “left worse off” should control of their homes pass to a for-profit private company, Lambeth’s Housing Cabinet Member has claimed.

The statement came in an answer to questions submitted by Myatt’s Fields councillors Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop at Lambeth Council’s public meeting on Wednesday 19 October. Residents and local councillors have already voiced their concerns about a ballot that could see PACCA TMO Limited and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, a for-profit company take over ownership of the council properties on the Lothian Estate area.

Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd have no track record of running social housing and have been, according to Lambeth Housing Cabinet Member Cllr Maria Kay, “unclear” about how they will fund a list of expensive promises to residents.

Cllr Kay also expressed concerns that if there was a “yes” vote in the ballot, the ownership of homes could be passed by Vision Homes to another owner, without the consent of residents. She also confirmed that leaseholders are excluded by national legislation from taking part in the ballot.

You can read the full text of Cllr Gadsby and Cllr Gallop’s questions at the meeting here, listed under questions four and nineteen.

If you worried or confused about this proposed takeover and want to know more, you can contact your local councillors Paul and Annie here – and give us your views on the proposals here.

A date for the proposed ballot has yet to be set but is likely to be in the next few months. Council tenant and leaseholder properties affected by these proposals are on the following streets:

  • Lothian Road (Dalkeith House, Silverburn House and Bathgate House)
  • Langton Road
  • Frederick Crescent
  • Myatt Road
  • Halsmere Road
  • Patmos Road
  • Tindall Street
  • Elliott Road
  • Cancell Road

Local councillors are urging council tenants to reject plans for a stock transfer attempt on their homes

Local councillors have urged council tenants on the Lothian estate area (formerly the PACCA TMO area) to reject proposals from a for-profit company to take control of their homes.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has approved an application by PACCA TMO Limited and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, a for-profit company, to conduct a ballot on the future ownership of the council properties on the Lothian Estate area. If they are successful in the ballot, the homes will be transferred out of the control of the local council and will be run by Vision Homes.

In a letter to council tenants, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Maria Kay, laid out the reasons why residents should be concerned about these proposals and vote no in the upcoming ballot: you can read her letter in full here.

Myatt’s Fields councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby have backed Cllr Kay’s comments, saying:

“These proposals have already caused a great deal of alarm in the community: we have received numerous communications from residents who are deeply concerned about how this has happened

“If successful, it will be the first time anywhere in the country where a for-profit company has taken control of council homes in this way. Vision Homes (Lambeth) Limited are a “for profit” company with no track record in owning or managing social housing. They will be able to charge residents more for their services and could pass on control of the housing, and the land on which it sits, to another organisation without a ballot.

“Although only council tenants are able to vote in this ballot, leaseholders in the area will have their lease transferred to the for-profit private company in the event of a “yes” vote”. We do think it is very unfair that leaseholders are unable to vote owing to the rules laid down by very badly drawn-up national legislation.

“We urge residents to make sure they vote No, in this important ballot: its outcome will have an impact on the daily lives of everyone in the Lothian estate area.”

A date for the ballot has yet to be set, but is likely to be in the next few months. Council tenant and leaseholder properties affected by these proposals are on the following streets:

  • Lothian Road (Dalkeith House, Silverburn House and Bathgate House)
  • Langton Road
  • Frederick Crescent
  • Myatt Road
  • Halsmere Road
  • Patmos Road
  • Tindall Street
  • Elliott Road
  • Cancell Road

If you worried or confused about this proposed takeover and want to know more, you can contact your local councillors Paul and Annie here – and give us your views on the proposals here.