Rent rises spark estate rage
PUBLISHED: 15:56 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 24 August 2010
RESIDENTS on one of the biggest housing estates in the borough are being charged different rents despite living in identical homes on the same street, the Times can reveal. Tenants living in the Stonebridge Estate are paying up to 60 per cent more than
RESIDENTS on one of the biggest housing estates in the borough are being charged different rents despite living in identical homes on the same street, the Times can reveal.
Tenants living in the Stonebridge Estate are paying up to 60 per cent more than their next door neighbours through the much heralded multi-million regeneration scheme which began more than a decade ago.
In the worst case scenario some residents have seen their rents rocket by 85 per cent after they have moved into their new properties.
Under the scheme, which saw the 1970s dilapidated tower blocks make way for low-rise flats and houses with gardens, tenants had the option of keeping Brent Council as their landlord or moving over to Hillside Housing Trust (HHT) who manage all the properties on the estate.
As the development comes to an end the disparities in the rents charged by HHT and Brent Council have angered many tenants.
Despite being one of the most deprived areas in the country, some residents on the estate are being forced to fork out up to £53 a week more in rent even though they have been relocated to a similar sized property as their former house.
But some have had their rents frozen even though they have moved to a bigger home while others have seen their rents almost double.
According to one resident, who asked not to be named, not only did his rent surge by 55 per cent when he moved into his new home, he found out his neighbour was paying around £46 less.
He said: "Something is wrong here, really wrong.
"How can people in the same street, in the same houses be paying different rents?
"Questions need to be asked why this has been allowed to happen."
According to HHT, the disparities are a result of them sticking to a pledge to stagger their rent increases while the council have increased theirs in one swoop.
Frank Downes, a resident in Jeffries House in Brett Crescent, said: "This is ridiculous because people here are living in one of the most deprived areas in the country.
"Middle grounds need to be met in relation to the Brent Council tenants to support them through this change because the majority of these people are living on the breadline."
A HHT spokeswoman said: "It should be noted that both landlords offered the same base rent charge, however as Hillside adopted the previous HAT phasing policy, they were able to discount the rents till 2012-13 at which point both the council's rents and Hillside's rents will be at the same level.
"Brent Council was unable to operate the rent phasing policy and has therefore charged full rent for Brent tenants from April 2008.
"All tenants moving from the old blocks into Brent properties since April 2008 have been charged the full rent for their property."
A spokeswoman for Brent Council said tenants were made aware that their rents would increase if they opted for them.
She added: "The benefits of becoming a housing association tenant were very clear and we were surprised that so many residents decided to remain with the council - especially when Hillside offered a guaranteed rent.
"Tenants were fully aware of the implications of remaining council tenants - and were aware that rent increases would not be phased.
"They made an informed choice - particularly in terms of their rent.
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