HOUSING: Lambeth council’s £100M property sell-off includes short-life council homes

FOR SALE: The council made tens of millions of pounds by selling off housing stock in Rushcroft Road, Brixton
FOR SALE: The council made tens of millions of pounds by selling off housing stock in Rushcroft Road, Brixton

Report by Nisha Damji

Lambeth council is set to raise over £100 million from selling off its properties across the borough, many of which are former so-called ‘short-life’ homes.

From April 2011 to December 2013, the council generated £85 million from the sales, with that figure set to rise to over £100 million by the end of next month, budget documents reveal.

Around £40 million of this has come from evicting and selling off the homes of a number of ‘short-life’ tenants across the borough, some of whom lived in their homes for more than 30 years.

Lambeth United Housing Co-Op spokesman, Julian Hall, told the Blog: The money raised so far is £8m in excess of the target Lambeth set themselves, but still they persist in breaking up communities. I don’t know of any other UK local authority that is evicting people to find its finances that are currently in reserve.

"Shortlife" resident Julian Hall. Picture by Matthew Griffiths
“Shortlife” resident Julian Hall. Picture by Matthew Griffiths

“Lambeth United Housing Co-operative have repeatedly presented the council with a plan that would save millions of pounds if they retained our homes as social housing. The savings involved are potentially up to £12m.”

Cllr Pete Robbins, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, defended the council’s actions: “With severe government cuts to capital budgets for schools and affordable housing it is important that we use our resources efficiently.”

Cllr Robbins also stressed that the council’s priority is to deliver “new council housing to help the 1,400 Lambeth households in temporary accommodation, the 1,300 severely overcrowded households and the 20,000 people on our housing waiting list”

However, the council confirmed that they won’t be ring fencing any of the money for social housing in the borough, it will instead go into the main council pot. A separate promise has been made to refurbish the remaining flats in Rushcroft Road.

EVICTION BRIXTON: Evictions in Rushcroft Road last summer turned violent.
EVICTION BRIXTON: Evictions in Rushcroft Road last summer turned violent.

Mr Hall added: “These evictions and sell-offs mean less housing stock is available, more people are added to the waiting list and none of the monies are being used to ease the waiting list by building new units.”

The figures don’t reveal the cost of carrying out the evictions such as legal fees, fees to property guardian companies or the costs relating to bailiffs.

A recent FOI request highlights that the council has spent over £1 million on a single contract with bailiff company, UK Evict, between 2009 and 2013.

More Stories:

Lambeth Council seeks injunction against Carlton Mansions

Council says it will “delay” evicting Brixton basketball coach Jimmy Rogers

More short-life stories, by Kaye Wiggins

Nisha Damji is currently studying for her NCTJ Journalism qualification at Lambeth College. Follow her on Twitter @Brixtonsfinest



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  2. As far as I’m aware they have not sold the other 3 blocks in Rushcroft Rd yet. They have instead just spent more money on security. Also they are only turning the remaining 3 blocks into council housing because they would be too difficult to sell. Over the yrs they have lost 2 flats to adverse possession (trololol), and 3 to Right to Buy in those 3 blocks (http://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=33502&Opt=0). This means they cannot sell the whole buildings to a developer as it would be complicated in who is responsible for general building up keep and maintenance outside of the flats. This isn’t some altruism, or “keeping council housing in central Brixton”, they just can’t sell them, otherwise they would as they’ve done with the rest.

    And they’re still not building any new council housing, saying they don’t have the money to make the somerleyton road development all council. This is social cleansing at it’s most clear!

    • yes you’re right. What a lovely irony that the right to buy, forced on a reluctant Lambeth Council in the 1980s, has led to a reluctant Lambeth Council today having to retain public housing!

  3. For the record, Lambeth are renovating three of the mansion blocks they cleared in Rushcroft Road for social housing, so not everything is being Foxtonised, though they have of course sold all the rest over the years. They say they want to retain some social housing in the centre of Brixton, which is better than nothing. They.also did rehouse some of the long-staying residents, though they were not legally obliged to since winning the infamous court case.
    Can you get more detailed info on what they received from selling the other three blocks they cleared last July?

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