Bromley back plans to rent 50 units for the homeless

A rapid plan to add 50 new homes to house Bromley residents at risk of sleeping on the streets has been signed off on.

Bromley Council are set to rent 50 homes – potentially 51 – for people needing emergency temporary accommodation, following a special meeting of the housing policy development committee on October 14.

Under the plans, the council will acquire the properties on a 135-year lease from a private firm called Beehive.

Council documents state Beehive, which was founded in 2017, as “a relatively new company” set up to acquire surplus homes from housing associations, which they then lease to local authorities to reduce housing pressures.

The properties in question were previously owned by housing association Hyde, councillors at the meeting were told.

Questioning the scheme, Cllr Gary Stevens queried what condition the properties would be in.

“It makes me slightly nervous we might be taking on board properties which are sub-standard. I hope and don’t think that’ll be the case, but I just wanted to get a bit of clarification around that point,” the Cray Valley West member said.

A council officer responded inspections on the properties were currently underway and that mitigation existed stipulating Beehive would have to pay to fix any properties which weren’t up to standard.

Asked why housing associations would be casting off homes they own, the council officer added that many HAs were currently reviewing their stock and disposing of properties which weren’t physically located in estates and areas they were looking to consolidate in.

And while the leases will be for terms of 135 years, councillors were told that on the 50th year of each term the rent will reduce to a peppercorn and the council will have the option to buy the properties from Beehive for £1.

Questioning from Labour Cllr Josh King also revealed that just 40 per cent of the properties would be located within the borough of Bromley, with assurances that the majority would be in neighbouring authorities.

The council predicts the move will achieve savings of £315k in the first year.

Committee chair Michael Rutherford said the move “represents one of the easier and better lower risk options we can get for delivering temporary accommodation”.

“We get 50 units in one go, we don’t even have to build and we’ve got reassurance over the price too,” he said.

The move comes as Bromley battles with the long-term cost pressures of homelessness and providing temporary accommodation.

The report by the council in June stated that Bromley has about 3,000 households on the housing waiting list, with roughly 1,700 currently in costly temporary accommodation, such as hotels.

The council spends roughly £6,300 per household per annum on each household placed into temporary nightly accommodation.

The council says the properties will be acquired in three tranches; the first tranche completing on October 31, the second on November 26, and the third tranche on January 26.

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