Residents of the New Era estate are campaigning hard to overturn the rent hikes brought in by the new owners.
A private investment company in which the Benyon Estate is a minority shareholder bought the New Era estate earlier this year, changing the company’s name to Hoxton Regeneration Limited.
The residents on the Hoxton estate, which was built in the 1930s and is home to up to 90 families, started a campaign after their rents increased by 10 per cent.
An online petition has launched asking the manager of the Benyon Estate, Edward Benyon, to “work with the consortium to keep rents affordable”. It has amassed nearly 600 signatures and residents have set up a campaign stall at Hoxton Market.
Resident Lindsey Garrett told the Hackney Citizen that the local support for their campaign was “incredible” and gives her hope they may be able to hold on to their homes.
Ms Garrett, a single mother, said that since her rent increased by over a hundred pounds a month it has been ‘really, really tough’ to pay it. She said: “That rate [the 10 per cent increase] has been frozen until 2016, the reason being because the owners are going to seek planning permission in October to build two storeys on each block.
“I suspect the reason why it has been frozen is because they know there will be loads of work being done and they can’t charge market value. The owners say that after this they will raise rents to market rates of between £400 and £600 a week.”
“Those of us that live on the top floor are not sure if we will be able to remain in our properties or if we will have to move out sooner. He [Edward Benyon] does not tell us much. I have a suspicion that if they don’t get planning permission then they may just demolish the estate.”
More floors possible
The new owners said they were not planning to demolish the estate but to perform “essential” renovation works. A spokesperson said: “Hoxton Regeneration Ltd will be undertaking essential renovation at the estate. This is required work. There has not been an extensive renovation of the estate since it was built in the 1930s.
“Hoxton Regeneration Ltd has not decided upon or committed to any additional planning at this stage, although additional floors is an option.”
The company said that the figures mentioned by Mrs Garrett were “purely speculation” and that they could not say how much the rent would increase by after 2016.
A spokesperson said: “We cannot be certain of the exact level of rents in the future but given the considerable investment required for the renovation works, which are essential for the future proofing of the estate, rents are likely to reflect the market rate at the time.”
“Hoxton Regeneration Ltd has provided as much information as possible up to this point, both in person and at resident meetings. We have promised residents more information as and when we have it.”