Resident Association (RA) representatives from the ex-Crown Estates, Victoria Park, Lee Green, Millbank and Cumberland Market, met recently with Steve Howlett, Chief Executive of Peabody and other senior Peabody staff to discuss existing rent levels and proposed rent increases.
What had been arranged by Peabody as a meeting to have a full and frank discussion about rents and to listen to our views, RA reps were very disappointed to be then told at the start of the meeting, without discussion, what Peabody had already decided.
It was stated that Peabody plan to:
• Increase rents that are below their ceiling rent level by 7%.
• Increase rents at ceiling rent by 3.6%.
• Continue with the agreed formula for setting the rents of former regulated tenants.
• Set rents for new tenancies anywhere between 60% – 80% of local market rents.
The RAs are very concerned that providing truly affordable housing does not seem to be a major aim of Peabody, at least in relation to the estates acquired from the Crown Estate. Steve Howlett and the other senior Peabody staff were anxious to point out that the estates were not breaking even financially at present and there could be no question of a rent increase freeze or a policy of reduction in the present formula for determining rent levels.
This meeting was far from satisfactory as far as the RAs were concerned and, working together, rent issues will be a major focus for the future work for the four estates
Peabody seem not to be listening to our concerns about the unacceptable levels of increase at a time when many tenants are on fixed or diminishing incomes and key workers are experiencing a wage freeze and jobs are being lost. How can people keep on paying these high increases?!
We are also concerned about the high number of empty properties on our estates – the reason? new tenants cannot afford the high rents that are being charged! Even Peabody accept this and in some cases have reduced the level they can charge – 80% of market rent – to a lower figure of 65% – and still they find it hard to let some of these properties!
Representatives from the 4 RAs will be meeting soon to discuss these issues and to plan on what we should do next………………watch this space!!