Housing and Planning Bill Committee

Written evidence submitted by Camden Association of Street Properties (HPB 114)

HOUSING AND PLANNING BILL AND RIGHT TO BUY FOR HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS

We are a tenants and residents organisation that represents street property tenants and leaseholders in the London Borough of Camden and which is recognised by the council accordingly e.

At a recent meeting of the Gospel Oak District Management Committee held on 24 September 2015, at which our elected committee representative on behalf of the Camden Association of Street Properties attended, the proposed extension of the Right to Buy to Housing Associations was discussed, and members were extremely concerned at the Government’s proposals to have the Right to Buy discounts funded by local authority sell offs of their void properties.

A conservative councillor, Councillor Oliver Cooper from Hampstead Town Ward also attended in an attempt to waylay members’ fears regarding these proposals.

We also understand that this issue has also been discussed at other District Management Committees in the borough, including Hampstead.

We are opposed to the governments’ proposals to request local authorities to sell void properties to fund the discounts incurred by Housing Associations regarding the selling of their properties to their tenants under the extended Right to Buy proposals.

We don’t see that local authorities should be forced to sell any of their void properties to fund sales to housing association tenants who aren’t the responsibility of local authorities in any event.

In addition, such sales are to the detriment of local authority housing waiting lists for homeless persons and families in desperate need of these void properties, especially in London and the Home Counties.

We can see no justification whatsoever why local authorities, which aren’t currently responsible for Housing Association properties or their management or tenants, should have to foot the bill to fund these sell offs in this way.

There is no equivalent provision so far as we are aware requiring local authorities to sell any void properties to fund the discounts from the Right to Buy of local authority properties.

Indeed, the last Labour government actually required gave local authorities the right to spend and use the receipts obtained from council RTB sales to fund the building of new properties for social housing, something that had been prevented under the previous conservative government.

Whilst we pass no comment on the fairness or otherwise of extending Right to Buy to Housing Associations when this is already available to local authority tenants, we cannot see any fairness in penalising those currently on housing waiting lists by the forced sales of void properties in this matter.

In addition, we are totally opposed to the lack of Parliamentary scrutiny of these proposals by getting Housing Associations to enter into agreements for such sales, without requiring these specific proposals to be included in the current Bill.

We are also opposed to the pay to remain proposals regarding tenants who earn higher salaries to pay higher rents, as we feel that this will cause the loss of mixed communities and the end of council housing as we know it.

We would also request to be called to give evidence before the committee as to the effect that these proposals will have on tenant communities within the London Borough of Camden.

December 2015

   

Prepared 8th December 2015