Myatt’s Fields councillors have organised two drop-in events this week for residents on the Lothian estate who want to discuss the threatened “stock transfer” of local council homes to a for profit, private company.
Controversial plans by a private for-profit company to take control of a housing estate in Myatt’s Fields have been condemned by Lambeth council’s housing chief.
Rents are likely to rise if Vision Homes, a for-profit company, succeeds in taking over properties on the Lothian estate, according to Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s cabinet member responsible for homelessness and better homes.
In a strongly-worded letter to residents, Cllr Kay says says people who live in the area risk higher rents and service charges if they vote to accept the proposal from Vision Homes which, she claims, has no registered employees and no track record of managing properties.
Vision Homes, working alongside Pacca TMO, which used to run the estate, intends to ballot residents on the proposal in the near future — although no date for the vote has been revealed by the company.
In her letter, Cllr Kay, who has been talking to residents alongside local Councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby, said Vision Homes has “no registered employees and no track record in owning, developing, or even managing social housing.
“The proposals from Vision Homes could mean you pay more: from your rents and service charges to the repairs and maintenance activities to your homes, as Vision Homes would charge VAT on top of these costs,” she said. “If Vision Homes were to also sell your homes to another company in the future, they will not be required to ballot or obtain consent from the Housing Regulator.”
“It is unclear to me how they will fund the promises they are making to you and your neighbours. Vision Homes’ plans don’t add up, and they do not make financial sense.”
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)
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.