Choice Housing and Victoria Housing Estates Limited (VHE) have finalised their £20m stock transfer deal which includes circa 86 tenants from the Cherryhill, Holywood Road and Clonaver scheme situated in East Belfast.The investment programme, which was consulted on earlier this summer, will see almost 300 previously managed VHE properties move to Choice Housing with more than 130 tenants opting to purchase their own home.
As part of the transfer agreement, the properties which have now moved to Choice Housing ownership will undertake a programme of renovation and refurbishment which will ensure they not only meet the Decent Homes Standard but they align with the quality services currently provided to more than 10,000 Choice tenants across Northern Ireland.
The investment programme, which was approved at the start of this year included a period of consultation between the two housing providers and all VHE tenants. As part of this process, tenants received independent advice and guidance informing them of all available options, which included the opportunity to apply to purchase their own home.
Announcing the finalisation of the transfer, Michael McDonnell, Chief Executive of Choice Housing said:
“The East Belfast area, like many areas around Northern Ireland, is facing a higher demand for quality social housing, a need that Choice are working hard, with statutory agencies and partners to meet. We are pleased to be able to complete this stock transfer which further demonstrates our commitment to investing in sustainable social housing which will stand the test of time.
“Throughout this process we were acutely aware that this was more than an investment project between two organisations, this was about the future of tenants and their homes – their engagement and contribution was vital to making this a successful outcome for all.
“Now that we have finalised tenancy agreements and stock has successfully transferred we will now work towards completing the agreed renovations to bring these properties in line with all other Choice properties in the region.
“I would like to welcome our new tenants from Cherryhill, Holywood Road and Clonaver to the Choice family and we look forward to continuing with our commitment to investing in local communities. A word of thanks also to VHE who were committed, throughout the process, to ensuring the best outcome for their tenants”.
Those tenants who opted for the transfer have now moved to their new tenancy agreement with Choice Housing as of 02nd November and as part of the agreement will see significant improvement to their homes, planned for completion over the next three years. A small number of tenants who are undecided about their future could also move to a new Choice tenancy by the end of January 2021.
Dawn Purvis the Chief Executive of Victoria Housing Estates added:
“Following an initial assessment and consultation process it was clear that Choice Housing were best placed to deliver local services to tenants that we could no longer facilitate. This stock transfer not only ensures that tenants keep their homes but that the much needed investment in these properties is guaranteed”.
“Choice Housing has consistently demonstrated their commitment to investing in communities and have always had a tenant focus when delivering key services – these were attributes we felt were central in ensuring a successful transfer of homes to a new housing association.
“The opportunity for tenants to purchase their own home was facilitated by VHE and we will support them through the final stages of the purchase which is expected to be completed by the end of the year”.
Other properties that have transferred to Choice include; Riverdale (West Belfast), Worcester Avenue (Bangor) and Harmin in Glengormley.
The programme has been developed in consultation with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.