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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
New estates owner mulls sell-off
Sign in one of the Octavia Hill homes' windows
Residents fear rents will rise
Hundreds of low-income homes at south London's Octavia Hill estates may be sold after a consortium bought them from the Church of England.

Just a month after the properties were bought by Grainger Gen Invest, it has told tenants it may have to sell 400 of them to cover the cost of the purchase.

The new owners told tenants they are considering selling off homes if they become vacant in the next 10 years.

But they also told BBC London that plans have not been finalised.

Residents' anger

There are over 1,000 homes in the estates, which has housed low-income families and key workers like ambulance staff and teachers for the past 100 years.

The properties are in Waterloo, Walworth, Vauxhall, Winchester Park and Pimlico.

Some residents are angry over the proposed sale.

"If they're going to sell half of them, then that's half of this estate that's no longer rented property," said Henry Quennell of the Walworth Tenants' Association.

We've got the win these battles
Simon Hughes
Local MP

"And the government and everyone else is saying we want rented property in London, affordable rented property."

Church commissioners had said the sale would be good for tenants, as the new owners would invest more in the properties.

The company says its first priority is to safeguard the current tenancies and keep rents within reasonable levels.

Local MPs have said they will fight any move to sell social housing.

Simon Hughes, MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey, said: "We may lose a lot of them, and once they're gone they're gone. And for the ones that remain they may be at rents that are no longer rents people working in London can afford.

"We've got the win these battles, certainly one of them, to keep the rents down, if not both, and the battles starts this week."

The company says it does want to reinvest in the estates, but it may have to sell some of the houses to pay for it - but it also says nothing has been decided yet.

MPs' shock at church homes sale
31 Jan 06 |  London

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