Nottingham families in 'upheaval' as NCH evicting dozens to repay financial error

Dean Allan and his family stand at the front of their Woodborough Road property from which they are set to be evicted
-Credit: (Image: Submitted)

Dozens of Nottingham families are facing "upheaval" as the city council flogs properties to try and repay housing money that it illegally spent. The Nottingham City Homes Group is selling 44 properties overall as part of efforts to repay £18 million of ringfenced money that should have been used on its housing stock, but that was unlawfully spent elsewhere.

Of the properties being sold, 40 of them are still occupied and tenants have therefore been served Section 21 'no fault' eviction notices, a type of notice the Government has previously pledged to abolish. One family-of-four on Woodborough Road say they still don't know what their next move will be, having been told by the city council that they need to be out in April.

Dean Allan, 46, has lived in the property for five years with his wife and their two children, aged 17 and nine. Mr Allan said: "We've been in this area for most of our lives. My wife goes to work just around the corner and my daughter is still at the local school.

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"It's a lot of upheaval just because Nottingham City Council can't manage its finances. We're now even being asked to allow access for property valuers to come in so that the home we still live in can be sold off."

Mr Allan himself works as a senior private sector housing officer at another local authority and says that if he came across a landlord acting like the city council, he would seek to remove their licence. Having been qualified since 2008, Mr Allan previously worked for Nottingham City Council and has since worked in areas such as Ashfield and Chesterfield.

Nottingham City Homes (NCH), a company completely owned by Nottingham City Council but previously operating at arms-length from the authority, was folded back into the council last year.

Despite the change, the same NCH staff continue to manage properties that are owned by the Nottingham City Homes Group, and the group's latest accounts confirm they have "commenced the process of asset sales" to repay the money illegally used from the council's Housing Revenue Account (HRA). The unlawful HRA spend, along with the collapse of Robin Hood Energy, is said to have "compounded" Nottingham City Council's current financial crisis.

A Nottingham City Homes van driving along a road full of parked cars
Nottingham City Homes was folded back into Nottingham City Council in 2023 -Credit:Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson

NCH says all the properties being sold are those occupied by market rent tenants, rather than social housing tenants. The company has confirmed that it has carried out in-person visits to deliver eviction notices to tenants, claiming to have offered them first refusal to buy their property and to have "assured them that they can come to us to discuss their concerns at any time."

Mr Allan says he has received no such offer of support and has heard nothing about a first refusal to buy his own property. Even if the offer was made, Mr Allan says he would not be in a position to purchase it and he and his family are now considering their next steps.

If a tenant served with a Section 21 eviction notice remains in their property after the end date on that notice, the landlord must go to court and begin the formal process of eviction. This process can often drag on for months, sometimes eventually ending in the appointment of High Court bailiffs to forcibly remove people.

When asked whether he was intending to stay beyond the date on his eviction notice, Mr Allan said: "If we've got nowhere else to go at that point then I've got no option. But if it ends up in court, we would be liable for the court fees and so we'd have to look at that."

A recent business plan for Nottingham's HRA confirmed that the illegally spent money is now being repaid over eight years, saying the "viability of the [Nottingham City Homes] Group will be put at risk if payment is made in full." The illegal spending is a scandal thought to eventually cost Nottingham City Council around £50 million when taking inflation into account.

A spokesperson for the Nottingham City Homes Group added: "We appreciate that this is difficult for our market rent tenants, and it was a difficult decision for us to take, but we believe we're acting in the best interests of the group as a whole and the wider tenant population that we serve."