Relief as rent rise threat is lifted
Housing association chief reassures tenants they will not pay for regeneration
29 March, 2019 — By Calum Fraser
From left: Basima Almousawi, Patrick Roberts, Maureen Roberts, Stacy Welsh and Phyllis Lowbridge
RESIDENTS have hailed a “genuine breakthrough” after the threat of rent hikes was lifted by housing chiefs.
The new chief executive of the Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) Ruth Davison and its director of housing Roz Spencer met residents of St Mary’s Path estate, Angel, on Monday to discuss the next steps of the regeneration plans.
Residents have campaigned for more than a year to put a halt to any scheme that would see them evicted or have to pay higher rents in refurbished homes.
As the Tribune reported, Ms Davison said she would not be evicting any residents but this week she also assured most of them that there would also be no rent rise.
Nico Christian, who chairs the St Mary’s Path Estate Residents’ Association, said: “I am only speaking for myself but I believe the meeting was very positive and constructive. ISHA made commitments on some of the residents’ most pressing concerns, in particular our ability to remain on the estate on the same rents and tenancies after any potential redevelopment or refurbishment.”
St Mary’s Path estate
He added: “There are issues we have been campaigning on for over 18 months so it feels like a genuine breakthrough.”
But concerns still remain for the roughly 14 homes that are let as temporary accommodation, and residents are worried about where they will be moved to if their block is regenerated.
Maureen Roberts, of St Mary’s House, said: “We have been told we might be moved to Tower Hamlets or further out of London. This is our home, we know this area and I don’t want to be moved out.”
ISHA first earmarked St Mary’s Path for regeneration in late 2017 due to mould and damp issues, insufficient heating in the properties and poor sound insulation.
Tenants were outraged when they saw that full demolition of the estate was being considered.
There are currently 103 homes on the estate managed by ISHA, most of which are three-bedroom flats.
Ms Davison said: “We have made a commitment that there would be no loss of social homes on the estates, all secure and assured tenants will have a right stay on the estate. Everybody who stays in the same size property will be charged the same rent.”
She added that tenants who are “underoccupying” – such as a couple without children living in a three-bedroom house – will be allowed to continue but with a maximum of one extra room only.
She said: “It might not be possible to maintain minimal disruption when we start works on the estate, but it is important that people are listened to.”
Islington housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “Islington Council had presented ISHA with red lines, such as there being no net loss of social homes and a guaranteed right of return for secure tenants to return to the estate if major works were carried out.”