Vacant housing across London is being made available to Grenfell Tower fire survivors as rent-free temporary accommodation by some of Britain’s leading property companies.
Members of the British Property Federation (BPF), which represents around 400 developers, investors and other firms involved in real estate, are to offer people made homeless by the blaze properties that are presently unoccupied for typically between six and 12 months without charge.
A list of private rental dwellings is being compiled and will be provided to Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC) as soon as it is complete, a BPF spokesman said. He was unable to say at this stage how many homes would be involved, but that offers by individual companies already made to the borough before the co-ordinated effort began had ranged from one to 20 homes.
Providers of build-to-rent units in London’s private rented sector have been the principal donors, with housing associations, some of which belong to the BPF, also contributing. “Members have been keen to do this under the radar,” the spokesman said, substantiating reports from Central London politicians that developers are, in the words of one, “falling over themselves to make offers”.
Development and construction firm Willmott Dixon separately confirmed to On London that it has put forward a number of flats in Outer West London that Grenfell survivors could move into if they wished.
Survivors have been booked into bed and breakfast hotels close to their former homes while the council and the Grenfell Response Team set up to support them seek suitable temporary homes. The BPF says that those put forward by its members are in many parts of Greater London including SW1, but that the majority are likely to be in Outer London as greater numbers of new rental properties are being built there.
Concerns have been expressed that people might be rehoused outside RBKC against their wishes. The spokesman recognised that placements far from North Kensington would not be ideal for all, but could nonetheless provide a better option than a B&B in the immediate, short-term future.
He stressed that “no one is trying to force these homes on anyone, it is entirely up to the people concerned whether or not they take the offers up”. RBKC deputy leader Rock Feilding-Mellen has told the BBC it could take up to two years to permanently rehouse everyone from Grenfell Tower.