TENANTS in a leafy village described how they were facing massive rent increases despite living in “uninhabitable” homes.
Those living in Stanmer Village raised their concerns at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting on Thursday.
They told how they were suffering at the hands of their landlords, the Brighton and Hove Estates Conservation Trust, which was set up by the council that owns the land their houses are on.
Speaking on behalf of himself and his neighbours, Jason Knight said the council had a responsibility to investigate residents claims.
Mr Knight described how one former neighbour moved out of the area because of the state of her home and added at least three children had suffered health problems due to the cold conditions of the homes.
“One of the many requirements of the lease agreement is that the Trust keeps the properties in good repair and condition, but we do not believe that the trust is fulfilling this obligation,” he said.
He also claimed he was threatened with eviction for raising concerns.
Mr Knight said: “A clause in our tenancy agreements clearly states that annual rental increases must be in line with the Retail Price Index.
“When my wife and I recently queried a proposed rental increase of 15% in a new 12-month lease, we were issued with a notice of eviction. This still stands, despite a petition of support signed by the entire Stanmer Village community.”
He said another tenant who had lived in the village for 30 years was told a 20% rent increase was “non-negotiable” and if she didn’t want to pay she would be served a notice.
Ward councillor Christina Summers has already met with residents and requested a meeting with the Trust which was refused.
Other concerns raised include the “dubious” claims of the listed nature of the buildings after one tenant was told a broken and unsafe fireplace was a listed feature and couldn’t be removed unless a 10% higher rental was paid – although they were told they could carry out the work themselves.
Green councillor Leo Littman said the Trust rejected the allegations.
Speaking after the meeting, Labour’s Gill Mitchell – one of the directors of the Estates Conservation Trust – said: “The Trust strongly refutes many of the claims made at the council meeting and is in dialogue with Mr Knight. The Trust was set up by the city council and operates according to the council’s criteria that includes the making of regular payments back to the council as a percentage of tenants rent.”