Councillors set to decide fate of Middlemore residents threatened with sell-off of homes

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Daventry District Council looks set to ditch plans to sell the homes of 30 Middlemore residents after an investigation by the authority's scrutiny committee.

In February 2018, councillors unanimously voted to look into the sell-off of Middlemore estate houses in Pepperbox Hill, Hidcote Way and Stoneacre Close.

The review, presented at the scrutiny committee on June 19, recommends the sale of the houses be quashed given the likelihood of the move to a unitary council in 2020.

It also recommended that tenancy agreements for original tenants should be extended from two to six months as "an appropriate gesture goodwill on the part of TDECL & DDC", and that "all necessary steps should be taken to maximise occupancy of empty properties between now and 2020".

Several Middlemore residents said they were led to believe their houses would be for a "homes for life", which they understood to mean a long-term tenancy.

But DDC wrote to the tenants in January informing them they intended to sell the homes and that residents - which include families, council employees and wheelchair users - would have to move once sold.

Residents were sent a letter as recently as May 2017 advising them that in the event of a sale “your occupation would not be affected and you would continue to occupy your house under the terms of your current tenancy”.

The scrutiny review states: "Whilst it is clear from reviewing documentation that DDC’s intention as an institution was to use the 32 properties as a pure investment with a view to disposing of the asset at a convenient time for the council, the perception seems to have been given – and that perception grew – that tenants had a security of tenure that does not exist in contract.

"That perception is shared by former councillors interviewed by this task panel.

"Tenants did query the contractual terms but appear to have been given misleading verbal assurances, and letters from DDC to tenants as recently as May last year allude to continued tenancy unaffected by any sale. The anxiety and anger felt by tenants regarding the apparent volte-face by DDC is therefore understandable."