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Hands off our homes

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27 February 2010
Hands off our homes Earlier today I joined residents in Lee Green to protest against the Crown Estate’s plans to sell off their homes to a new landlord. Lewisham East’s current MP Bridget Prentice was there, as were a large number of concerned residents.

The Crown Estate owns a variety of residential properties across London, many of which are occupied by key workers and elderly citizens who pay affordable rents. In Lee Green, 78 homes are affected.

At the end of January, the Crown Estate launched a consultation with residents about selling the freehold of their properties to another, unspecified landlord. Whilst the Crown Estate has been considering this for some time, they have only just chosen to speak to residents about their plans.

The proposals are incredibly unsettling and I have already met with a number of affected residents who are concerned about who their new landlord might be; whether their rents would go up; whether they will have the same tenancy rights under a new landlord and whether their views are going to be listened to as part of the “consultation”. All the residents I have met are against the sell-off.

I think the Crown Estate has behaved very badly and I have already put my views in writing to them. I’ve also worked with the residents on a petition and believe that at the very least, there should be a proper ballot of residents.

Residents should be given the chance to say whether they want the freehold of their properties transferred to a new landlord and their views should be respected. A half-baked consultation done as some sort of tick-box exercise isn’t good enough.

A ballot would be normal practice for a local council if they were considering transferring homes to a new landlord and as a public body, I don’t see why the Crown Estate should be able to get away with anything less.

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