CHAIR of the Riverdale Finaghy Tenants’ Association says he, along with other members, remain in “limbo” over a proposed “take-over” of properties under the ownership of Victoria Housing Estates (VHE) to Choice Housing.
Currently a joint consultation is underway between VHE and Choice around proposals to agree a transfer of its stock in Riverdale to the housing body. Chair Joby Fox told the Andersonstown News that at a recent meeting with VHE and Choice, tenants initially thought that on the “face of it, the proposal looked like a good offer”.
“But when presented with the details tenants felt angry and left with the threat of their homes being sold on the open market to the highest bidder if they don’t accept the deal. This is clearly a case of duress.
“The issue now is that the terms that are being offered for the option to buy our properties or move to Choice Housing do not reflect the time that people have lived in their homes,” explained Joby.
“VHE are only offering the properties at current market prices with no offer for commission based on the time we have resided in our homes or indeed no reflection on the severe hardship which we have endured under the watch of VHE and the Charity Commission NI (CCNI),” he said. “The biggest majority of our tenants and their families have lived and maintained the houses for over 50 years”.
Joby said that he believes the proposal is “unlikely” to go through.
“It would mean that VHE and CCNI put themselves beyond accountability, so we have to ask, who’s agenda is best served by this move? It’s clear that VHE and CCNI want to sweep their five years of failure under the carpet.”
Commenting on the ongoing consultation Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey said: “The problems regarding Victoria Housing are well known, I have spoken about these issues with residents and representatives of Victoria Housing both publicly and privately. These issues are of a hugely concerning nature to the tenants of Victoria Housing. We are talking about the core rights of tenants and the condition of their homes.
“This is why this consultation is so vitally important and I would ask that every tenant feeds into this consultation because it is the very basis of the future of their homes. Please seek independent advice being offered by the Housing Rights service and by Supporting Communities and exhaust every question you have.
“It is up to the residents to shape this consultation and I look forward to the results of the consultation and most importantly hearing solutions to the problems Victoria Housing residents face.”
No-one from Victoria Housing Estates was available for comment.