The Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has welcomed the decision by Swansea Council to back down from demanding unaffordable ground rents from householders on Gowerton’s Elba housing estate but has warned that changes need to be made to leases to prevent this issue arising again..
Mr. Black, who has been working with some of the residents in opposing these rent increases said that the decision was the right one and showed that the council has listened to the very real concerns of families, many of whom could have faced losing their homes over the amount demanded of them.
"This is a very welcome u-turn by the Council," said Mr. Black. I am pleased that the cabinet saw sense and is now prepared to offer what they describe as a more affordable rent to residents. I also welcome the offer that residents will be able to purchase their freehold on the basis of the new rent. However, the council now need to take a further step to make sure this does not happen again.
"If we are to avoid a similar situation in 25 years’ time then the council should amend the terms of the leases so that future rent reviews are conducted on a more realistic basis. Not all home owners will be able to afford to buy their freehold and the danger is that whilst a commercial rent review clause remains in a residential lease then it will continue to undermine the value of homes on the estate. That is something that the council can avoid by issuing a simple deed of variation for home owners to sign."