’We are £20,000​ down’ moan London Lane buyers as Southern Housing Group flats are STILL not ready - a year behind schedule

The London Lane development one week ago on March 13 2019

The London Lane development one week ago on March 13 2019 - Credit: Fiona Metcalfe - want to remain anonymous

Families face being made homeless because builders are now running a year behind schedule completing a block of London Fields flats.

Higgins is still working on Southern Housing's development in London Lanes. Picture: Mary McGonnell

Higgins is still working on Southern Housing's development in London Lanes. Picture: Mary McGonnell - Credit: Mary McGonnell

Southern Housing Group has refused to tell the Gazette whether it will put buyers up in temporary accommodation after the latest date set by Higgins for completion of nine houses and 20 flats in the six-storey new build in London Lane overran by yet another month, although 20 other flats have now been completed.

The housing association said it was in contact with people about their personal situations – but some of them complained they have not been informed, either.

One buyer who wished to remain anonymous said the latest delay will be “financially crippling” for those without recourse to huge savings or salaries: “That is the majority of help-to-buy buyers, as they will have to use Airbnb, hotels or sign up to a new contract with probably a six-month no break clause.

“And they were told this three days before the handover was meant to take place.”

The Gazette first reported on the delays at Christmas, but three months on some buyers are in no better position.

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville waded in to the debacle this month and was promised by SHG bosses they were on track for a move-in date of March 20. However, the night before, buyers were told this had been put back by at least another week – meaning by the time the paperwork is completed the earliest they could possibly move in is early April.

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Some families now face being made homeless when their short-term tenancies run out on March 31. Having sold their homes to secure the property when they exchanged nearly a year ago, some are out of pocket by more than £20,000.

They claim SHG gave them the illusion the development could be completed imminently, and they have paid through the roof for short-term rental accommodation and storage, becoming increasingly desperate as the date was pushed back month by month.

When the Gazette asked SHG whether it would be paying out compensation as a result of delays, it instead invited us on a tour of its properties “to give a full picture” of the group, which has “some amazingly dedicated people who work with our most vulnerable residents”.

One person told the Gazette: “We are just stressed and struggling. It’s not so much the delay as the broken promises. It’s hard to imagine any other consumer being treated this way. We have no legal recourse and so far have been refused any compensation.”

And another buyer added: “If we had been made aware of delays from day one or even in September we could have secured long-term rent at a better cost. Or we could have simply opted out of London Lane.”

A spokesperson for Southern housing apologised for the distress caused, and said that they were “bringing as much pressure” as they could to ensure contractors and third parties involved “are on target”.