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Fury as housing association lists Northwold Estate council flat on Zoopla with 76% rent increase

17:33 30 November 2016

The tweet Guinness sent in response to a question about the Zoopla listing

The tweet Guinness sent in response to a question about the Zoopla listing

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Campaigners and town hall chiefs have slammed a housing association group for renting out a council flat at 176 per cent of its original price.

The Save Northwold group has started a newsletter, which 100 people have signed up to already. Picture: Nigel SuttonThe Save Northwold group has started a newsletter, which 100 people have signed up to already. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Eagle-eyed neighbours on Upper Clapton’s embattled Northwold Estate found the one-bed pad on listings website Zoopla last week.

The Save Northwold group has been fighting The Guinness Partnership over the proposed demolition of housing blocks as part of a major redevelopment to create more homes.

And they were furious when they discovered Guinness advertising the poky one-bed pad for the “affordable” rent of £1,023 a month – compared with the £580 social rent it had been let for previously.

After being quizzed on Twitter, Guinness staff said it had initially been available for social rent – but Hackney Council could find no one on the 11,500-strong waiting list who wanted to live there.

Unsurprisingly the town hall hit back, saying officers weren’t given enough time to complete the housing process.

A spokesman said: “Our first priority is to ensure any empty property goes to those most in need, and we work as fast as possible to allow eligible residents on our waiting list time to consider applying for an available home.

“In this case, we were disappointed The Guinness Partnership chose to let the property at a higher rent after a short period, not providing enough time for us to complete the housing process.

“We have raised these concerns with them to ensure more time is given to help find tenants properties at social rent in future.”

Campaigner Emily Jost believes Guinness was looking for a way to reduce the number of social rents on the estate. But Guinness has always maintained its project will increase the amount of social housing on the Northwold.

Last week the housing group took an angle grinder to residents’ bike locks and dumped the cycles in a pile, saying attaching them to railings was a “safety risk”.

Guinness, which is a partnership of housing associations, admitted the move had been an “error” and apologised for not telling people their bike locks would be destroyed.

Bizarrely, they offered those affected just a one-hour window to collect their bikes – in the middle of a weekday.

“If this is not convenient owners can contact us so we can make other arrangements,” a spokesman wisely conceded.

“The bikes had to be removed because they were a safety risk blocking escape routes in the case of fire or other emergency.

“There are some local authority bike storage facilities on site.

“Signs had been in place since June, but we accept that we should have communicated with our customers better.”

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