Monday, 27 March 2017

Tenants look for hostile take-over bid

An east London tenant management organisation is offering up its stock to landlords prepared to launch a 'hostile take-over bid' against housing association...

An east London tenant management organisation is offering up its stock to landlords prepared to launch a 'hostile take-over bid' against housing association Poplar HARCA.

Lansbury West Properties has said in a statement it 'no longer has the confidence in the competence and integrity of the landlord'.

'It intends severing links altogether with Poplar HARCA by inviting hostile take-over bids from other registered social landlords in respect of the freehold of HARCA-owned buildings, land and other assets within the defined area of Lansbury West estate,' the statement said.

'In effect, the residents of Lansbury West estate are sacking their landlord.'

The majority of the TMO's 1,043 properties were transferred to Poplar HARCA in 1998 following a controversial ballot, which was won by just 15 votes.

An independent review of the TMO released two years' ago described its relations with Poplar HARCA as 'poor'.

The review said the TMO board had taken its 'eye off the management ball' due to its 'on going sense of injustice over the transfer'. The TMO had become 'technically insolvent' after it accrued debts of £150,000, it said. A later report by a forensic accountant claimed Poplar HARCA owed the TMO £1.44 million in back payments.

A spokesperson for Poplar HARCA said it disagreed with the accountant's figures and did not accept the report as an 'accurate description of the truth'.

Following the publication of the review the TMO agreed to a 'Way Forward' agreement but according to its statement its relations with Poplar HARCA were now 'worse than ever'.

Steve Stride, chief executive of Poplar HARCA, said he was 'astonished' by the TMO's statement outlining its plans to seek a new landlord.

'We were astonished to receive this communication from the TMO as they have given us no formal indication that they were unhappy with Poplar HARCA.

'If some officers or members of the TMO have issues with Poplar HARCA, they have the option of appealing to members of our board or opting for independent arbitration.'

'We [are] seeking legal advice on this and other outstanding issues in relation to the TMO.'

John McCormack, the TMO's housing choice adviser, said several housing associations had expressed interest at taking over the stock.

'During the initial review in order to see if there was any legs for a demerger I spoke to several RSLs in a hypothetical capacity to ask them if they would be interested and they said "yes".'

The decision to sever links with Poplar HARCA was made at recent meeting of resident board members, he said.

A history of Lansbury West.

1997: Lansbury West Properties set up to manage 1,042 properties

December 1998: 916 of its 1,043 properties transferred to Poplar HARCA after a controversial tenant ballot

April 2002: A review of the Lansbury West TMO amid concerns over its £150,000 debt, and alleged conflicts with Poplar HARCA over funding levels.

January 2003: Review reports and 'Way Forward' agreement is signed.

May 2005: Proposal by Lansbury West TMO to 'sack' Poplar HARCA

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