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Answering your questions

 

East Thames is merging with L&Q. We understand that as a resident you might have questions about this will affect you. This series of FAQs is designed to answer some of the questions you might have.

We will keep you informed as the discussions progress. Keep an eye on www.east-thames.co.uk/merger_news for all the latest information.

Q.     What is happening?

A.     In December 2016, East Thames became a wholly owned subsidiary within the L&Q Group. East Thames did not merge fully into L&Q and has continued as a separate organisation since then, but under the L&Q ‘umbrella’.

It is now proposed that East Thames will fully merge with L&Q. This will mean that East Thames will become part of L&Q and will no longer exist as a separate organisation.      

Q.     Why are East Thames proposing this?

A.     By combining forces, the new organisation will be able to do more than L&Q and East Thames can do separately. This is because we will be able to avoid the duplication that comes of having two separate organisations. It will enable us to streamline the organisation, combining the best aspects of both East Thames and L&Q.

We believe that the savings achieved from the Transfer of Engagements will enable the bigger organisation to improve its services for all residents. We will also be able to build more new homes for people who need them. The savings we make will also enable us to make even more of a lasting impact on local communities than we could if we continued to operate as separate organisations.

Q.     What is a Transfer of Engagements?

A.     A Transfer of Engagements is a form of merger. It is a process whereby everything owned by one organisation is transferred to another organisation. In this case, East Thames’ assets and liabilities would be taken on by L&Q and East Thames would cease to exist as a separate entity. L&Q would effectively step into East Thames’s shoes.

Q.     Will my rent or service charge change because of the merger?

A.     No, rents and service charges will not change as a result of the proposed merger.

Q.     How would the merger affect residents?

A.     Like East Thames, L&Q is a Registered Provider (housing association) regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency. So, it is committed to making sure you keep your rights. This means that:

  • Your tenancy agreement would not change and would continue unaffected.
  • As an existing tenant, all your rights under your tenancy agreement and under housing law would remain the same – you could, for instance, pass on your tenancy and carry out a mutual exchange, if your current tenancy agreement allows you to.
  • Tenants would have the same ‘security of tenure’ as you have now, including the right to remain in your home for the duration of the tenancy unless we have the legal right to bring it to an end. This is because L&Q, as the new landlord, would have to follow the same legal procedure to take away someone’s tenancy.
  • For shared owners, your lease and the terms of the lease would remain the same, although again, your landlord will become L&Q.

Q.     Would I need to sign something?

A.     No, once the transfer takes place your tenancy and/or service provider (if you are receiving support) would automatically transfer to L&Q. We would send you a notice confirming the change in your landlord.

Q.     What would be the benefits for residents?

A.     Larger organisations are generally better placed to cope with changes in the economy and can access more finance to build more homes. Larger organisations are also generally better placed to invest in the changes needed to bring about efficiency and improvements in services to residents. The new organisation intends to make the most of being a larger organisation and will work hard to tackle the shortage of affordable housing in London and the South East. We could achieve more together than we could apart.

But this will not be to the detriment of our existing residents. The merger is just as much about delivering quality landlord services and a range of other benefits for residents as it is about building new homes.

The merger would mean we could invest significantly in the service we provide to residents, such as improving day-to-day repairs. It would also mean we could offer a greater choice of homes and tenures. One of the main things the new organisation would like to do is to make it easier for residents to access services and get what they need quickly and easily. By merging fully we could accelerate improvements like these.

Q.     Are there any disadvantages to the proposals?

A.     The only disadvantage we have identified with the proposal is that East Thames will cease to exist after the transfer as it will become part of L&Q. East Thames has been a very effective organisation and we appreciate that many residents will be sorry to see it merged into another organisation and lose its identity.

However, we are convinced that the transfer is in the best interests of East Thames residents. It will put the new organisation in a better position to withstand external economic pressures, make cost savings and, in the medium to longer term, achieve the benefits for residents we have outlined above.

Q.     What are the costs associated with the merger?

A.     The merger will, inevitably, involve initial staff time and external advisors’ costs. However, we are confident this will be quickly recovered through the savings that a larger, streamlined organisation will achieve.

Residents will bear none of the costs of the merger. These will be absorbed by the new organisation and the savings made in the longer term will mean we are able to improve and add to the services residents benefit from.

Q.     When will everything happen?

A.      Nothing will happen until we have completed our consultation with our residents and taken their views into account. Subject to that, East Thames and L&Q are planning on completing the Transfer of Engagements by 31 March 2018.

Q.     Will I need to change how I pay my rent or service charge?

A.      Not at the moment. However, if the transfer goes ahead, L&Q will write to you beforehand to explain anything you need to do to change how you pay your rent and service charges. We will give you plenty of notice and make the process as easy as possible to follow. If you owe money at the time the proposed merger goes ahead (rent arrears, court costs or money for damage or a rechargeable repair), these debts would stay with you. L&Q would be able to enforce existing Court Judgements for these arrears. If you have concerns now about arrears, please contact us on 0300 303 7333.

Q.     Will I lose my local contacts and relationships when the organisation gets bigger?

A.      Our aim is to provide consistently high-quality services across all our areas. Staff will still have local knowledge and will benefit from increased investment in training and services. The names of the people you speak to may change from time to time as they do now.

Q.     I'm planning to buy my home under Right to Buy/Right to Aquire. Will the merger affect this?

A.      No. If you are buying your home under the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire, your application will not be affected by the merger. The rights you have now under your tenancy will remain the same.

Q.     How can I give feedback?

A.      We are keen to hear your views on the proposed transfer – please tell us what you think by filling out our online form.

If you have any other questions about the merger, please call us on 0300 303 7333.