Campaigners say 40 housing association properties sold off in Islington each year
Three properties belonging to housing associations Peabody and Clarion were up for sale in Islington last week
18 February, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Campaigners outside housing auction on Thursday
HOUSING campaigners have warned that around 40 housing association homes in Islington are sold off at auctions every year forcing people out of the borough.
There were protests outside property auctions in central London this week as dozens of former housing association homes throughout the capital went under the hammer.
Campaign group Islington Homes for All pointed out how three properties belonging to housing associations Peabody and Clarion were up for sale.
Campaigner Andy Bain, who chairs Islington Homes for All, warned that vulnerable people in need of housing were “losing out” because of the sales.
He said: “There is already a severe shortage of homes to let at social rents, without aggravating the problem by steadily reducing our housing stock let at social rents.”
He stressed how Islington has a “desperate housing problem” with thousands of people on the housing waiting list for council homes.
He added: “Children of Islington residents are having to leave the borough because they can’t afford the private rents and there are no council homes for them.”
The three properties up for auction are a four-bedroom house in Tollington Park owned by Clarion Housing Group and two one-bedroom flats owned by Peabody in Highbury and Canonbury.
Mr Bain said: “If one assumes that three properties per month [being auctioned by housing associations] is a fairly standard number for Islington, in one year we’re talking about 36, maybe more homes that are withdrawn from those people in housing need.”
He said the sell-offs were a result of a change to the Housing and Planning Act two years ago which removes the obligation of housing associations to be solely social home providers.
Mr Bain said “it should be the case” that local authorities could step in and prevent similar sales.
He said: “Perhaps there could be some arrangement whereby housing associations would be obliged to accept or consider offers from the local council to purchase the properties they no longer want.”
Housing campaigners from across London protested outside the All- sop housing auction in Park Lane yesterday (Thursday) where 44 homes which were formerly socially rented went under the hammer.
Housing associations argue that they sell off dilapidated homes that are too expensive to refurbish so they can use the funds to build new homes for social rent.
But Glynn Robbins, manager at the Quaker Court Estate who was at the protest, said: “Housing associations last year made a surplus of £3.5bn – that’s how wealthy this sector is. Claims they can’t build homes without selling other homes are just false and they are perpetuating social cleansing.”
A spokeswoman for Clarion Housing Group said: “Crucially, the revenue we will receive from the sale will be invested into our existing stock and building new affordable homes. We do not distribute profits to investors, every penny we earn is reinvested in providing decent affordable accommodation.”
A Peabody spokesman said: “Each year we may sell around 40 empty properties out of our stock of 56,000 homes. Many of these were previously intermediate market rent or market rent tenancies, rather than social housing.
“We are building thousands of new homes each year, two-thirds of which will be for social rent or part-rent/part-buy.