A housing association attempting to evict multiple families from their Bermondsey homes has agreed to meet with residents after growing pressure.
Last week the News reported how Notting Hill Housing Trust’s (NHHT) private rental arm, Folio, was making moves to evict families off the St James’ Estate because of “high arrears”.
But after pressure from Liberal Democrat councillors and Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle, the association has said it will sit down with residents in the coming weeks.
Efforts to evict the families have been controversial because of residents saying the “high arrears” are errors since housing benefit payments settled the difference, and that they were “being charged rent multiple times”.
NHHT, however, has told the News that they are not aware of any administrative errors concerning multiple charging or incorrect arrears.
A statement said: “Folio London has been in discussion with Neil Coyle MP, who has written to St James’ residents to gauge interest in a public meeting.
“As far as we know a meeting has not been arranged yet. Members of the Folio London team are always willing to meet residents and hear any concerns they have.
“We are already in talks with a number of St James’ residents regarding their individual tenancies and we are dealing with possession proceedings on a case-by-case basis.”
Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, Leader of the Southwark Liberal Democrats, said: “I received assurances from Notting Hill and Folio that evictions would be held off but have just heard about another resident being taken to court. They must suspend all these possession orders until they have investigated why rent going into their account has been disappearing and individuals are being falsely accused of having rent arrears.”
A NHHT spokesperson said that there “are another two cases where the court has asked for additional information before they’re listed for hearing again”, but there are “no other cases listed at the moment” and “are waiting to see if a public meeting will take place”.
They added: “As we said previously, we are in talks with a number of St James’ residents regarding their individual tenancies and we are dealing with possession proceedings on a case-by-case basis.
“It would not be sensible to postpone these individual discussions in lieu of a public meeting because the matters will have to be resolved between Folio London and the individuals concerned.”
James Briley, a resident, said: “With the meeting they [NHHT] need to follow through or they shouldn’t bother coming. This whole thing could affect their business. I don’t want to be going through this and there has still been a lack of communication. They say they do their best for clients but they don’t.”