LAndlords ‘rent loss’ bid to get more cAsh
PT Investigation: St Michael’s Gate emails reveal council deal wrangle
Peterborough taxpayers were asked to give compensation through “the public purse” to the housing firm which is evicting dozens of residents from a single estate. New Freedom of Information emails uncovered by the Peterborough Telegraph show a directoratStef& Philipsasked Peterborough City Council for money due to “an unexpected loss of rent” onfour properties in St Michael’s Gate, Parnwell.
The council is currently paying Stef & Philips nearly £3 million over three years to use the vacant properties, where 74 tenants and their families are being evicted, as temporary accommodation for homeless people.
The FOI emails show the council was asked on more than one occasion to increase the amount it pays Stef & Philips. One email on September 15 from a director at the firm says it has seen an “unexpected loss” on four properties at St Michael’s Gate since August 1.
He says that he fully appreciates the council’ s reserv ation“r egarding compensation from the public purse.”
But he adds that he wants the matter to be brought up at their next meeting.
In another email dated October 24, nearly a monthafter a deal between the two parties wasagreed, hesaysth atrec ent events had stopped the council from taking up use of the properties, leading to a “rental loss of £25,000” for Stef & Philips.
The “recent events” are thought to refer to a call-in (challenge) of the council’s decision to agree the contract with the company.
On this occasion the director says: “We are certainly not looking for any compensation,” but he added: “A revision of payment terms in this context is what I would like to discuss.”
Another email the following day then asks the council to increase the money it pays to Stef & Philips due to it leasin gfewer pro pertiesthanfir st expected at St Michael’ s Gate.
Two days later, another email reads: “Given the delay and also the fact that properties will be made available to Peterborough City Council in tranches, it is quite clear that PCCwill not be spending any- wherenear£[email redacted] even on the revised rates.
“Given this scenario, I would be grateful if you could kindly reconsider PCC’s position in this regard.”
Oliver Hayward, council assistant director: people comm issi oninga ndcommercial operations, replied: “Any price increase will need to go back through the process as it is treated as a new decision, and given the interest around this matter there is no guarantee that the decision will be given.
“I would request that we hold prices as we previously agreed.”
Alth ough74tenan ts arebeing evicted, Stef & Philips is reno vatin gma ny ofth ehomes – including turning someinto housesofmul tipl eocc upation – toincrease t henumb eravai lable to the council.
The number of properties was due to increase to 98, but b ecausethi swaslat erreduc ed to 88t h ecoun cilin cr easedthe amount it pays per bedroom by roughly 16p per night.
A council spokeswoman said: “Whilst a slight increase, the rate paid reflects good value and is far less than the continued use of hotel acco mmod ationt ohelptho sein need in the city.”
The spokeswoman was referring to a Peterborough Telegraph story in September last year which revealed th atthec ouncilwas budgeting for a £1.2 million overspend afterp uttinghom eless people in city Travelodges.
NobodyfromStef& Philips was available for comment.
The Peterborough Telegraph has campaigned on behalf of residents of St Michael’s Gate facing eviction following the Stef&Philips property deal with th ecity council