A former soldier who has been selected to battle Rishi Sunak at the next general election has challenged the Prime Minister to take action to avert his constituents living in former military homes being hit by no fault evictions.
North Yorkshire councillor and prospective parliamentary candidate for the Green Party Kevin Foster said the ramifications for residents across parts of North Yorkshire could potentially be huge after the Government won the right to buy back 38,000 former military homes from private landlords.
An as yet unknown number of tenants in towns such as Catterick Garrison could be adversely affected after the High Court action ruled earlier this year that the 1996 privatisation was a “bad deal” for the government.
There are concerns over the impact on demand for affordable housing, the supply of private rental properties and even potentially house prices.
The ruling came five years after MPs on parliament’s public accounts committee condemned the sale to property firm Annington as “disastrous for taxpayers”, losing up to £4.2bn, as it failed to feature clauses to give them a share of future price rises for the properties.
Residents have recently received a letter from Annington stating following a comprehensive and detailed review of its business strategy, the firm has decided to sell a number of properties, including an unknown number in Catterick Garrison.
It remains unclear whether the firm owns properties in other areas featuring former military homes, such as at Dishforth and Topcliffe, near Thirsk and in Ripon.
While the firm has issued assurances that no immediate formal possession notices will be served, it said it would “require the property back in the future” and suggested tenants may prefer to start looking for alternative accommodation now”, in order to move at their own convenience.
A letter to tenants states Annington would take a more active approach to issuing formal two-month possession notices before the end of the year and that it would consider selling properties to interested tenants.
It states: “Whilst we appreciate that this may well be disappointing new, we hope that the advance notice will give you adequate time to find alternative accommodation.”
Coun Foster, who represents the garrison and is set to become North Yorkshire Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “I have no idea how many residents will be affected, but I would ask all tenants who have received letters from Annington to contact me so that I can represent them”.
He added: “I am already in touch with the Housing Department at North Yorkshire Council and fail to see why tenants could not simply have their tenancy agreements transferred to the new landlord, the Ministry of Defence. I urge our MP and Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to get involved to resolve this issue.”
Coun Foster said anyone affected by the issue could contact him by phone on 07854 161630 or by email KF57OKE@gmail.com
No response to a request for comment from Rishi Sunak has been received yet.