Sir, - Paul Donovan's article on housing issues (
Comment, 31 March) contained several inaccuracies concerning the Church
Commissioners and the sale of the Octavia Hill estates.
The properties have not been sold to "commercial companies". The new
ownership is a 50/50 partnership between the social-housing landlords the
Genesis Housing Group and The Grainger Trust, the UK's largest quoted owner of
residential property. Pathmeads Housing Association, which is part of the
Genesis Group, will manage the properties.
The Church Commissioners are neither registered social landlords nor housing
specialists, while Pathmeads is both. The sale is of the freeholds only, and
existing tenancy agreements will remain in place.
Pathmeads has stressed that it will manage the homes using best-practice
housing-association policies, including safeguarding tenancies and complying
with social-housing ethics. It has also stated its commitment to improving
service and investing in improvements to the internal and external appearance
of the properties.
The article says that the rents for the properties sold last year to the
partnership increased by six per cent. This was not because they were under new
ownership, but because the independent rent officer determined the new level as
a fair rent.
Had they remained in the ownership of the Church Commissioners, the same
process would have been followed.
Church Commissioners for England
London SW1P 3JZ