Forced sale letters an error: Dept

A LETTER sent to home owners within the Beacy Bronx threatening them with forced acquisitions was an error, says the housing authority.

The authority, which was rolled into the Department of Communities under the McGowan government’s shake-up, wants a medium-density redevelopment of the precinct.

It only became aware of the contents of the letter after the Chook emailed questions on Thursday.

“A single letter was sent by LMW Property Advisors to private property owners originally within the Davis Park precinct offering the opportunity to sell their properties,” department general manager corporate and commercial operation Nigel Hindmarsh said.

“It has come to the attention of Communities today that LMW Property Advisors unintentionally implied to the remaining private owners that compulsory acquisition will be pursued.”

Mr Hindmarsh said the department didn’t even have the power to force owners out and the letter “misrepresented our intention to continue working collaboratively with remaining property owners.”

He said they’d taken up the matter with the agent and said any owners with concerns should ring the department.

A friend of one of the affected residents told the Herald the threat had been extremely stressful.

They’d received what they thought was a casual approach from an agent who’d left a card in their door and a phone message saying there was a potential buyer, but with no mortgage they weren’t keen on up-selling and dismissed it.

No warning

“There was no formal warning, and the only reason the owner gave them a call was because they noticed residences around them were emptying out and they thought they’d better find out what was going on,” she said.

She says they were worried that as the old commission flats disappeared, their property values would drop and they’d be forced back into having a mortgage when they had to move.

She said they supported the redevelopment of the Bronx, but relocation would mean they’d no longer get to live there. “That’s not been put on the table,” she said.

Mayoral candidate Ra Stewart came across the letters while door knocking the area and described the language as “forceful, bordering on bullying”.

“A couple I have spoken to are very concerned about their home and the implications,” Ms Stewart told the Herald.

She says it implied that if the residents didn’t sell up fast, their home values would drop until they were acquired for significantly less than their current value.

Beaconsfield council candidate Fedele Camarda says it’s indicative of how residents have been treated during the Heart of Beaconsfield project, which involves Freo council, several state agencies and Activ.

“Based on discussions with those in the area it appears residents have been afforded little opportunity to understand, query and critique the proposals,” Mr Camarda said.

“The community consultation process, given the scale and significance of the proposals, has been underwhelming and insufficient.”

Mr Camarda and Ms Stewart both said there were residents who had decades-long ties to the Davis Park precinct, who were extremely anxious about having to move.

Fremantle Beaconsfield councillor Hannah Fitzardinge disputes the claim the consultation has been under-par, but was furious the council, a partner in the project, hadn’t been told about the letters.

“In my opinion it was inappropriate to engage with [owners] through a third party property agent before meeting with them face-to-face to explain the situation and discuss their options,” she wrote to council staff, asking them to pass on her message to Communities.

“The emails from the property agent are heavy-handed at best, and do not present the project or the Housing Authority in a positive light. The overall objective of the project is to provide an uplift in residential property opportunities in the area and these residents should not be made to feel that this is occurring at their disadvantage.”

by STEVE GRANT

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