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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Victoria Housing Estates and Choice Housing consult with tenants

The Victoria Housing Estates (VHE) charity is consulting with its tenants on proposals to transfer ownership and management of VHE properties to Choice Housing. Housing Rights has been appointed as the Independent Tenant Adviser on this proposal and is available to provide impartial and independent advice to any VHE tenants who have questions about how the proposed transfer will impact them.

What is being proposed?

VHE has stock of 429 properties, all of which are subject to private tenancies. Of these, a large number are likely to be protected tenancies, a particular type of private tenancy which provides the tenant with additional security of tenure. Many of the properties are in disrepair, and VHE has been unable to raise the necessary funds to invest in the improvement and modernisation of these properties.

If the stock transfer goes ahead, these properties will transfer to Choice Housing Association and the tenants will become secure tenants of this registered housing association. Choice will begin improvement work to the former VHE properties once it assumes ownership.

The consultation process will last for 3 months, after which the boards of VHE and Choice will decide whether to proceed with the transfer of stock.

Why are residents being consulted?

The purpose of the consultation is to understand how many tenants wish to transfer to Choice. VHE tenants may instead choose to purchase their home, if they are eligible to do so under VHE’s internal house sales scheme. The consultation will allow VHE tenants to have their say on proposals and the management boards will consider the results of the consultation when making the final decision on whether to proceed with the transfer.

How can VHE tenants get advice?

VHE has issued all VHE tenants with a consultation package which sets out the proposals and provides information as to how the rights of affected tenants will change. This document includes information on how to access advice on proposals from both Choice and VHE, but importantly also signposts tenants to an impartial source of advice in the form of an Independent Tenant Adviser.

The importance of independent and impartial advice in this type of proposal cannot be overemphasised, particularly where many of the VHE tenants involved enjoy greater rights than the basic rights enjoyed by the majority of private tenants in Northern Ireland.

The Independent Tenant Adviser

Housing Rights has been contracted to act as the Independent Tenant Adviser for this project. We will provide impartial advice and assistance to any tenant involved in the proposal. This service will be provided chiefly by Faith Westwood. As many of the VHE tenants affected by the proposals will be protected tenants, it is essential that they get independent advice on how this particular protected status will be impacted if the transfer goes ahead. As a well-seasoned adviser with many years’ of experience in the private rented sector, Faith is ideally placed to provide this advice.

How to contact the Independent Tenant Adviser

Faith can be contacted on 079 36368 461 or by email. All contact will be responded to within 1 working days and we aim to answer any queries within 72 hours.