Church Commissioners housing sell-off: contracts exchanged

Grainger GenInvest and the Church Commissioners have exchanged contracts for the freeholds of more than 250 homes in Waterloo and Southwark. Completion of the sale is expected within the next few weeks.

Waterloo estate
Part of the Waterloo estate seen from the London Eye


The SE1 homes form part of the sale of 976 predominantly residential properties in the Octavia Hill Estates, with other properties Vauxhall, Pimlico and Walworth.

The sale has been vigourously opposed by tenants' groups, who fear that a move to higher market rents will split up local communities and drive families out of the area.

Grainger GenInvest is a 50/50 partnership between Genesis Housing Group, a registered social landlord, and Grainger Trust plc, an experienced residential landlord with considerable experience of working with housing associations.

Pathmeads Housing Association, a subsidiary of Genesis Housing Group, will be responsible for the management of these homes.

Tom McGregor, Managing Director of Pathmeads, said: "A dedicated team is already in place at Pathmeads to work with the Church Commissioners to enable a smooth transfer of the management arrangements for these homes. The Church Commissioners' housing management staff will also transfer to the Pathmeads team to add significant support and continuity."

Waterloo tenant and campaigner Mike Tupeen told us: "We still totally oppose this sale which we do not consider has been made to a social landlord.

"Once again that Church Commissioners are trying to pull the wool over
the eyes of its tenants by stating that Pathmead are a registered social
Landlord, they are not the landlords but a management company acting on
behalf of the new owners GraingerGeninvest.

"The three parts of the Estate together with the part of the Waterloo Estate sold last June will be demanding a meeting at the earliest opportunity with the Landlords. We want to talk directly to GraingerGeninvest to establish exactly what will happen in the future.

"Already we are finding that the estate north of The Cut are experiencing
rent increases way above those imposed by the Church Commissioners and
these are 3 times the rate of inflation.

"We will continue to offer a united approach in our battle for a fair
deal for the Tenants of Octavia Hill."

Grainger GenInvest insist that they are committed to continue the improvement programme initiated by the Church Commissioners and have allocated an investment of 9 million to be made over the next five years. They are also planning a number of initiatives to build good relations with the current tenants to include newsletters, surgeries and better estate cleaning.

Tom McGregor added: "We have written to tenants to confirm the exchange of contracts and once the sale has been completed we will be able to provide more information to the tenants. It is important to Grainger GenInvest that the rent levels remain affordable to the tenants and we are committed to safeguarding the current tenancies regardless of tenancy type and maintaining support for key workers. Pathmeads is a Registered Social Landlord and manages over 20,000 homes and has extensive experience over 26 years in delivering all aspects of a high-quality, responsive housing management service."

Paul Clark, Chief Surveyor of the Church Commissioners, said: "We are pleased to have exchanged contracts with the partnership of Genesis and Grainger Trust. We believe this represents an excellent outcome both for the residents and for the Church Commissioners."

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