News / 1 July, 2014

New Era Estate families face rent hikes as Benyon landlord takes over

Mayor Jules Pipe condemns rent increases which will ‘tear the heart out’ of a Hoxton neighbourhood

New Era Estate Hoxton

Market rates: the New Era estate in Hoxton. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Residents of a Hoxton housing estate have been left “in limbo” after the family firm of Britain’s richest MP bought a stake in their homes.

Conservative MP for Newbury Richard Benyon is director of his family’s Englefield Estate – which is valued at approximately £125 million.

Their portfolio includes the Benyon Estate, managed by his brother Edward Benyon, which comprises some 300 properties in De Beauvoir Town.

A private investment company in which the Benyon Estate is a “minority shareholder” bought the New Era estate, built in the 1930s, from previous owners First LBS Holdings Ltd this March at “true commercial market value”.

The Benyon Estate has confirmed that it has managed the estate since the acquisition.

Up to 90 families currently live on the New Era estate. Pauline, who has lived on the estate for 15 years and who did not want to be identified said that once the buildings were sold the changes came in “like a bomb”.

She said residents were advised to sign 12-month contracts with a rent increase of 10%, after which the rent would be raised to “market value” of £2,000 a month.

“I’ve got an uncle who is 85, his wife is 90 and she has Alzheimer’s and is blind. There is going to be no provisions for us. We will have to be evicted by bailiffs before we are re-homed. We went down to the council and filled in the forms and they said we can’t be rehoused as we are not homeless.

“Mr Edward Benyon previously said they were going to knock it [the New Era estate] down. They would have done us a favour if they had knocked it down because then we would have been re-housed. As it is now we are all in limbo.

People can no longer afford to live where they were brought up, we were all born round here.”

One woman who had lived on the estate for seventy years said she was too upset to discuss the matter.


Not for sale: A sign on the stairwell of the New Era Estate. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

In a statement, the Benyon Estate said that an independent surveyors’ report had found that there were “numerous deficiencies” with the buildings such as poor heating and badly damaged windows, meaning “substantial investment” was required to renovate it.

“As a landlord, to run this estate as a going concern requires an income equal to market rates of rent.  In light of this, we have given our existing tenants new 12-month contracts at rent levels that are at substantial discounts to market rates; therefore, the tenants have an extensive period of time to make alternative arrangements, if this is what they want to do.

We have met each tenant personally to explain the situation and meetings are now taking place to help them in the future.”

But Pauline said: “Mr [Edward] Benyon said he’s seen every single family. He has not seen every single family. I’ve never spoke to him in my house or at all. We found out he had taken over on the Monday and we got a letter within two days saying the rent had gone up 10%. The letter said it would then be going up to market value.

“It was all kept secret who the new owner was. We had been trying to get hold of LBS Holdings and we don’t even know where they are. We don’t know how to get hold of them. When they were putting the flats up for sale they said they wouldn’t put the rent up.”

First LBS Holdings Ltd changed its name to Hoxton Regeneration Ltd in April this year.

Hackney’s directly-elected mayor Jules Pipe said: “‘I am deeply concerned to hear about these rent rises. So-called ‘market rents’ are way beyond the means of many residents. Such rises threaten to tear the heart out of a long-established Hackney community as people are forced to move. Treating tenants in this way is not reasonable.

“Sadly this kind of action is not confined to the private sector – unfortunately Peabody are also increasing rents of former Crown Estate properties they purchased by around 7% a year, making what was once key worker housing unaffordable for many existing tenants.’

A spokesperson for Hackney Council added: “The Council attended the meeting with the new landlord last week. We appreciate that this is a worrying time for residents, and we will work closely with all the tenants, assessing their individual needs and providing advice and assistance, which may include providing alternative accommodation. Particular support will be provided to vulnerable households.”

Heather Kennedy, organiser at Hackney housing group Digs said: “What is happening to the New Era estate is happening to people all over London. The current system is turfing people out of their homes and destroying communities. What kind of society allows the naked greed of wealthy landlords to trump people’s need to be housed?

“A third of MPs are landlords. This helps to explain why we have a system that is so heavily weighted in favour of landlords over tenants.”

Alex Hilton, Director of Generation Rent, a rent campaign group for private tenants said: “Wages haven’t gone up for years, benefits are being cut and to slap an entire estate with a 10% rent increase is simply inhuman.

Landlords putting rent above inflation is rare, this shows that nothing trumps the desire to make profit.”

Richard Benyon MP said: “I do not manage this building. The building is owned by a consortium of which my family business is a small shareholder.”

/ 1 July, 2014
  • jac

    I think this is just awful it really is social cleansing on a huge scale there anybody out there that can fight for morals and justice anymore ??? I see
    this sort of thing happening in countrys where there are no rights london surely cant be going in this direction as i will vote in elections next year this plight will be upper most in my which way my vote will go.thankyou

  • SecretR

    Totally with you Jac. It’s disgusting what the council is allowing to happen to Hackney. And we all know what they will build on the site when they finally demolish it. Another gated yuppie community.

  • pat

    There are flats being built along Whiston road on what was council land who are they earmarked for? Looking at what the Benyon estate commented about the residents of the new era having twelve months to make their minds up its obvious that they dont give a toss about the residents.Diane Abbot raised this at prime ministers question time,typical Cameron answer,”This is why we need to build more social housing”

  • Kate

    SecretR what do you propose the council does here? The estate is owned and run by a private landlord. This is what happens when governments decide the privatise the provision of housing for poor people. In that sense Cameron is right, this is exactly why we need social housing run by people whose primary motivation isn’t profit.

  • Carly

    My letter to Edward Benyon regarding the sale of New Era Estate:

    Dear Mr Benyon,

    Thank you for your recent letter sent to residents of New Era Estate. I’m sure you intended this to be reassuring but the content comes across as patronising and condescending. I am a resident there myself and would like to take issue with your comment that you have secured us a 12 month period of ‘significantly low rent’ in which to ‘review our positions’.

    A 10% increase in rent from one month to the next, without warning, is unethical and certainly does not constitute ‘significantly low rent’ especially when compared to what we were paying only the week before.

    Although a 12 month period in which to ‘review our positions’ may seem generous to you, I myself have lived in my current home for the past 16 years and am aware that there are residents who have been here much longer than this. My daughter knows no other home and myself and my family have lived in Hoxton for generations. 12 months in which to ‘review our positions’ which (as I’m sure you are aware) for most of us will mean having to move out of our homes, and probably out of the area, is nothing short of cruel.

    The 10% increase in our rent which we are now paying will start to pay for improvements to the estate that most of us will not be able to stay and benefit from, which is unfair and again unethical.

    You may feel that media coverage towards yourself and your family have been ‘hurtful’. How do you feel residents of New Era Estate feel at the prospect of the imminent loss of their homes? Apologies if you do not receive much sympathy from myself and my fellow residents in this instance. Your offer that ‘by working with the local authorities and other key stakeholders we will continue to work with you in every way we can and ensure that you and your families are given the support needed’ should have concluded with ‘to move out of our newly purchased properties’!

    I appreciate that The Benyon Estate is only a minority shareholder but you are a shareholder none-the-less and have been appointed to ‘manage the estate on an on-going basis’ and therefore cannot disregard your responsibility towards the residents. You may not be ‘directly responsible for setting future levels of rent’ but you will be involved in those decisions and I’m sure will have an awareness of the projected rent increases as part of the company’s business plan but have refused to provide that information to us.

    You say your family have been landlords in the Hackney are for over 125 years and has become an active member of the local community. Does this activity usually constitute breaking up such local communities and moving residents out of their life-long homes?

    Please do not patronise us by down-playing and dismissing what is happening here and claiming that you understand what an ‘unsettling time’ time this is for us.

    Yours sincerely,

    Carly Day

  • pat

    Carly,until now I had never heard of Benyon.What is a Newbury MP doing being an active member of the community in Shoreditch?Perhaps a letter to the local paper in his constituency asking for their take on the situation here might help.

  • Saul

    That’s a great letter Carly!

  • jac

    Carly brilliant well done …these people are playing with lives and they seem offended ?????

  • pat

    Richard Benyon gave an interview in the Newburytoday/Newbury Weekly News slating the gutter press for their portrayal of whats happening on the New Era estate.Someone best tell him that whats happening in Hoxton is due to his and the previous governments policies,The article is on line.

  • Paul Brimmer

    It’s seems beyond belief that these soul less, uncaring, purely profit motivated property developers can, with apparent impunity, decimate so many communities.
    Have they no consciences? I mean, how do they sleep at night?
    But yes it is what’s happening throughout London, especially in trendy ‘I-saw-you-coming-Hoxton.’

    And it seems that local councils just stand back and do nothing except say how dreadful it is while enabling these community wrecking companies to do as they please.

    Of course Jules Pipe is sympathetic but he doesn’t live on the New Era State does he (?) and its been his council – and too many others – that have sold off so much social housing in Hackney and other boroughs to these parasitic developers.
    My heart goes out to those residents who will lose their homes while that money grabbing MP Benyon rakes in the profit.
    The entire Benyon family should be deeply ashamed of themselves for making such a vile ( oddly enough evil is an anagram of that word)contribution to the already unacceptable levels of increasing social divisions in this country.

  • Anon

    Clearly an upsetting position for the tenants to be in, and my heart goes out to them, and a huge backlash towards the Benyon family and Westbrook, but no mention of the bad guys being the Lever Family who’s charitable will appeared to have run out….. They sold to a private entity over housing associations….what did they expect…..

  • sarah sherwood

    I have been a Londoner all my life and my family have lived here for generations . All fine and dandy when it suited the ruling classes to send us of to fight their wars and to work in their factories. but we don’t seem to be needed anymore so we can go F off. and make room for the new gentry.

  • sarah sherwood

    I have been a Londoner all my life and my family have lived here for generations . All fine and dandy when it suited the ruling classes to send us off to fight their wars and to work in their factories. but we don’t seem to be needed anymore so we can go F off. and make room for the new gentry.

  • Adam

    I lived on a similar private estate from 1998 to 2009 paying pepper corn rent, out of the blue we were put up for auction, we were sold six blocks of 24 flats all sold to different landlords. One block the tenants were offered the chance to buy the lease on their flat not surprisingly no one could and they eventually had to leave. Another block mine, got a new landlord rents went to market value I had to get out it was heart breaking. Being a single male the council would not entertain me. I was offered a flat on intermediate rent luckily I had savings accrued through paying the pepper corn rent I eventually bought a share in my new much better flat the only option for these people the younger ones is leave London or go into shared ownership like I had to at least now I am not vulnerable to landlord takeovers and if they ever want my new flat they have to buy me out market value. The landlords who charge these low rents are wrong because the tenants suffer in the long run ironically I now pay my rent part to a housing association, if they think they will be or are social housing tenants they are deluded because they are private rent sector. Trying to get a house from a social landlord the single men or even the younger ones will be met with the catch phrase it’s for those most in need even though these poor people are just that

  • Adam

    They are spitting in the wind these poor people, it will dawn on them when the media interest and face book campaign fades that they are private renters and have fallen victim to a business transaction that they are powerless to stop, I am afraid the golden era of new era estate notice the irony of that title is over. I wish them every success and my prayers are with them

  • At lease Russell brand is trying to help even if he gets stuff wrong sometimes his intentions are good and he made a difference to the new era estate in hackney


Sign up for Hackney news straight to your inbox with our weekly Friday digest - also featuring special offers, competitions and more
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Secure and Spam free...