Saturday, 25 June 2016

Residents warned against signing contract to make them leave their homes

Council accused of intimidation as leader begs government for help

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has been accused of attempting to intimidate tenants into leaving their homes to make way for the 8,000-home Earl’s Court regeneration scheme.

Lawyers acting for the West Kensington and Gibbs Green tenants’ and residents’ associations last month sent an urgent letter to 750 households advising residents against signing a ‘secure tenant contract’. The contract was issued days earlier by a new, council-backed rival residents’ group and was endorsed by the authority’s Conservative leader Stephen Greenhalgh.

The contract promises tenants compensation and a new home if they give up their homes as part of the multi-billion pound landmark west London scheme. The council argues that it’s not legally binding but the tenants associations’ lawyers have advised residents that it could be.

Jonathan Rosenberg, a housing campaigner advising the tenants’ and residents’ association, said issuing the contracts was ‘a desperate attempt by the council to intimidate them’.

The associations want to use proposed ‘right-to-own’ regulations to take over the ownership and management of the stock.

Mr Greenhalgh has made a personal plea to the government to prevent the regulations from scuppering the demolition. In a letter to the Conservative decentralisation minister, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he urges Greg Clark to ban tenant-led stock transfers in regeneration areas. It ends with a handwritten note: ‘P.S. I really need your help on this!’ (see above). Mr Clark’s response stated: ‘The secretary of state will take account of all relevant considerations.’

A council spokesperson said the contracts were sent out because residents asked for reassurances they will get new homes.

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