Tower Hamlets mayor Rahman denies ‘fire sale’ of family homes

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has denied claims that he has been forced into a U-turn over a ‘fire sale’ of council-owned family housing in London’s East End—with its chronic 24,000 waiting list.

Opposition Labour councillors claimed they forced him to drop proposals to sell off 12 ‘surplus’ properties that were going to be put on the market.

‘Short life’ properties included terraced Victorian houses in Bromley-by-Bow and Whitechapel, which are now to be refurbished for families on the waiting list. Some have been occupied on short-term leases for up to 25 years.

A Town Hall spokesman said: “It has always been the Mayor’s intention to find resources to refurbish properties for tenants and this has been achieved for the 12 properties.”

But Labour insisted the properties were about to be up for grabs on the open property market.

Opposition housing spokesman Sirajul Islam said: “Selling council homes for a quick cash fix is completely irresponsible.

“But the Mayor has finally listened to reason and stopped trying to sell off this much-needed family housing.”

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Councillors are urging the Mayor not to treat residents’ homes as “soulless assets to be sold off for short term gain.”

A council Cabinet report states the properties could be “very desirable homes, but their current poor state of repair requires considerable investment to bring them up to standard.”

Cllr Helal Uddin, whose Bromley-by-Bow ward includes several properties that had been earmarked for a sell-off, said: “The properties are large family homes, exactly the type the East End needs most—now we’ve managed to keep them in public ownership for the benefit of residents rather than private developers.”

Councillors claim 14 similar council-owned properties had already been sold off in the past two years, including houses with up to six bedrooms. But the council later refuted this.

The Housing Waiting list currently has 23,957 applicants, including 1,800 families in need of four-bed accommodation.