Tenants to vote on the future of 200 homes

Almost 200 families in the Grange estate will be balloted over the coming weeks about transferring their homes from the NIHE to Choice Housing. Grange estate. Pic by Google.
Almost 200 families in the Grange estate will be balloted over the coming weeks about transferring their homes from the NIHE to Choice Housing. Grange estate. Pic by Google.

A trade union has slammed a proposed stock transfer of homes in a Ballyclare housing estate, claiming higher rents and bedroom tax will be introduced.

The Times understands almost 200 families in the Grange estate will be balloted over the coming weeks about transferring their homes from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to ‘Choice Housing.’

Commenting on the issue, NIPSA Assistant Secretary, Paddy Mackel said: “It is disgraceful this process is continuing when the Assembly is not actually functioning and when local politicians cannot even be held accountable.

“NIPSA is totally opposed to this political agenda of dismantling the Housing Executive and selling off people’s homes to the highest bidder. Citizens deserve better from government.

“NIPSA has been engaging with residents for the last number of months and will be meeting again with many of them this week.”

He added: “Do residents want automatically higher rents, which will be a fact? Do they want the welfare reform bedroom tax changes imposed? This will also be a fact. Stick with the Housing Executive and reject the transfer of homes to Housing Associations. Reject this takeover bid by Choice Housing.”

Responding, a NIHE spokesperson said: “Consultation with tenants on the proposed stock transfer is due to commence. Tenants will be issued with a Housing Transfer Offer document which will provide them with information on the proposal including details about; Choice Housing, the improvement work it plans to carry out and the rents it intends to charge.

“Choice Housing will be carrying out door-to-door visits and will erect a display of their proposals at a venue for tenants to inspect. Tenants will be given details of an Independent Tenant Adviser, provided by Housing Rights Service, who will be available to provide them with impartial advice on the proposal.”

They added: “It is on the basis of information provided during the consultation exercise that tenants will be asked to demonstrate their support or rejection of the proposal via a Tenants’ Ballot. If the ballot indicates support for the proposal, it will be referred by the NIHE to the Department for Communities for approval.

“Neither the Housing Executive nor Choice Housing have plans to forcibly move tenants to ‘more appropriate dwellings’. The NIHE would like to assure tenants it is they who will decide, through the ballot, if their homes are to be transferred. We would encourage tenants to fully participate in the consultation process so that they have a say in the future plans for their homes.”