New tenants left in limbo

FAMILIES are being left in limbo after waiting nearly four months to move into new social housing, the Gazette has been told.

Northumberland County Council has purchased more than 40 properties at the new gentoo development, Ropery Court, next to Morrisons in Alnwick to be used by Homes for Northumberland. They were due to be ready for tenants in July but three months later, they have still not moved in.

The delay has been described as ‘abominable’ by one couple who said the stress of the process has had a devastating effect on their health. And they criticised the way the process has been handled by Homes for Northumberland.

The couple in their 50s have already had to extend their current lease at the Johnnie Johnson Housing property they rent and are concerned that they may not be able to do so again.

“We are totally in limbo,” they said.

“We are living out of boxes because we don’t know if we are staying or going. We put in for them in July and were accepted and we just keep getting told that it is delayed.

“Now they are saying it will be October 17 but we don’t know if that will happen.

“We’ve already had to extend our notice and we’re going to have to do it again. We don’t know if they will and if they don’t we will be stuck. We will end up in cardboard boxes outside the council doors.

“Then when we phoned Homes for Northumberland and explained they just said ‘it’s not our problem’. It is just abominable.

“We know one girl had to be rehoused because she was going to be homeless.

“It is just soul-destroying.”

Another new tenant from Alnwick said: “I am one of the lucky ones, I haven’t had to end a tenancy but I know one woman who has had to put her furniture into storage and sleep on friends’ sofas.

“When you speak to Homes for Northumberland all they say is sorry and that there is nothing they can do about it.

“Information about it all is distinctly lacking. We just want to know when it is all going to end. It is ridiculous now.”

Kevin Lowry, interim head of housing services at Northumberland County Council said: “There have been a number of issues and details to finalise in relation to the council’s purchase of the properties, and we are sorry if this has impacted on those who are looking forward to moving in to this new, high-quality development.

“We are doing everything we can to get the issues resolved with the developers gentoo, and will confirm start dates for tenancies very soon.

“In the meantime, we would encourage anyone who has been disadvantaged to get in touch and we will see what we can do to provide support.”