GREEN MSP Alison Johnstone has called for the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council to give financial support to tenants facing eviction from charity-owned flats.
Around 120 flats on Lorne Street, Leith, are being put on the market by the Miss Agnes Hunter Trust, a foundation that gives financial aid to health and social welfare charities, including some that help the homeless.
We have supported them to establish their own tenants’ association”CAMMY DAY
It is believed as many as 200 tenants – including young families and the elderly, some of whom have lived there for decades – could be affected by the move.
Angry residents, who said they feel “betrayed and traumatised” by the decision, have banded together in an attempt to form a housing co-operative – the Lorne Community Association (LCA) – to buy up their homes.
They said that there simply aren’t enough unfurnished flats in the local area to deal with the scale of the upheaval, and argue some of their neighbours are too old and vulnerable to be uprooted.
Ms Johnstone, the Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, wants the Scottish Government and the city council to offer the tenants financial support and has lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament.
However, a city council leader accused the Greens of playing politics with people’s homes and insisted the tenants had already been given lots of assistance.
Ms Johnstone said: “The residents of Lorne Street face an uncertain future, and understandably feel traumatised as they had thought their tenancies were secure. It’s important we send a strong message of support to them.
“I urge the Scottish Government to work with the City of Edinburgh Council to provide financial assistance to the residents to ensure a bright future for the community of Lorne Street.”
City housing leader Cammy Day said: “The council has been working closely with the tenants affected by the decision of the Trust and their advisers to sell off their homes.
“We have supported them to establish their own tenants’ association and are assisting them to explore a number of options, including the potential to come together as a co-operative to buy their homes themselves.”
After residents announced their intention to establish a housing co-operative, the Miss Agnes Hunter Trust announced that it would place “a moratorium on any further notices to terminate leases” until July next year while the viability of the scheme is assessed.
A spokeswoman for The Miss Agnes Hunter Trust said: “The board of trustees has agreed to the request to maintain the moratorium on no-fault notices to quit until July 1, 2016, to allow for further exploration of the housing cooperative by the Lorne Community Association.
“We are pleased that the Lorne Community Association has been set up with the prospect of a tenants’ co-operative buy-out, which may be a solution which could satisfy all parties involved.
“The trustees are also open minded to any other initiatives that may emerge.”