Scores of complaints have been made about rented properties on royal land and tenants have confronted greater than 100 evictions, a Guardian investigation has discovered, prompting anger over how the Queen’s £14bn property portfolio is managed.
The crown property, which helps bankroll the Queen by giving the monarch 25% of its earnings, has sought to evict 113 tenants up to now 5 years to allow them to promote their properties for revenue.
It comes after it has emerged on Tuesday that the taxpayer has footed a £2.4m invoice to renovate Frogmore Cottage, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official residence, based on royal accounts. Whereas the royals haven’t any direct oversight position in crown property’s dealings, Prince William and Prince Charles have each spoken earlier than concerning the significance of guaranteeing good high quality housing is obtainable for all.
Figures obtained by the Guardian present that the crown property has obtained greater than 100 complaints about its residential properties in simply two years, together with grievances over lease hikes, leaks, delays in repairs and defective electrical items.
One evicted tenant accused the crown property – which made £329m revenue final 12 months – of “greed”. The retired police officer, who mentioned he was left 1000’s of kilos out of pocket after being evicted, advised the Guardian: “The crown property are custodians, they don’t seem to be a bloody industrial property agent. They’re custodians and due to this fact they’ve a social obligation to the general public and their communities.”
An investigation utilizing knowledge obtained by way of Freedom of Info legal guidelines reveals that:
The crown property has made £1.1bn promoting off greater than 700 residential and industrial properties since 2014, with one personal agency subsequently mountaineering lease effectively above inflation.
Greater than 1 / 4 of one million kilos has been banked by the crown property in housing profit from simply seven hard-up tenants.
4 tenants have sued the crown property for breach of contract, together with one declare value half one million kilos.
The disclosures might be uncomfortable for senior royals who’ve beforehand expressed their concern over the state of personal rental properties. In March, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited dilapidated housing in Blackpool and noticed rain leaking by way of the home windows of a property and holes within the ceiling. The third-in-line to the throne later mentioned in the course of the go to: “There’s a sadder aspect to Blackpool,” including: “And we shouldn’t skirt round these points.”
Prince Charles has additionally spoken out up to now in favour of inexpensive housing for low-paid employees. In 2003, he mentioned in a speech that “the dearth of inexpensive rural housing is among the most essential points going through the countryside”.
However a listing of complaints to the crown property since 2017 present that tenants of properties on land deriving earnings for the royals have raised grievances a couple of host of matters.
They embody complaints about leaks in properties, defective lights, noise and homeless folks sleeping in a bin retailer in winter months. Different complaints embody: a tenant being chased for arrears, lease hikes, delays in repairs, a faulty fuel cooker, “massive volumes of flies” at a resident’s residence and there being no sizzling water within the faucets or bathe at a property.
The crown property obtained 71 complaints about residential properties in 2017-18 and 38 in 2018-19. The crown property mentioned its data didn’t distinguish between whether or not a grievance was made by a tenant or customer to a property.
Over the identical interval, the crown property obtained greater than 300 complaints about its property portfolio – together with industrial and residential leases – however identified the determine included grievances about customer sights, reminiscent of Nice Windsor Park.
The crown property issued 113 “notices to stop” to residential tenants from 2014 to 2018, together with 97 in rural properties, 9 in Windsor and 7 in central London.
Different figures additionally reveal that the crown property gained greater than 1 / 4 of one million kilos in housing profit from simply seven tenants. Individuals renting in Camden, Runnymede and Windsor and Maidenhead have let property on royal land utilizing housing profit paid on to the crown property.
Since 2014, £253,092 has been paid to the crown property in housing profit. Nearly all of the funds had been for 5 tenants in Camden, north London.
The Guardian has additionally established that 4 tenants have sued the crown property for breach of contract, together with one declare value half one million kilos regarding a breach of “repairing obligation” in central London.
Retired police officer Peter Franklyn, 65, was evicted from the three-bed residence he shared along with his then spouse in Taunton, Somerset, in 2014.
He defined how he was compelled to promote £6,000 value of woodwork instruments effectively beneath market worth as there was no house for them within the smaller property the couple moved to. “To me, the crown will not be a industrial property firm and have an obligation to protect and utilise properties for the good thing about society,” he mentioned.
The crown property, which runs the monarchy’s land holdings, offers 25% of its earnings to the Queen from funds two years in arrears as a part of the sovereign grant – the rest goes to the Treasury. The grant for 2018-19, which is linked to the crown property’s earnings in 2016-17, was £82.2m. It’s set to rise to £85.7m in 2020-21.
The Queen has no position in managing the crown property however its accounts state that “the sovereign is a vital stakeholder as regards good constitutional administration and the requirements maintained by the crown property within the endeavor of its enterprise”. The chief govt officer and chairman of the crown property meet the Queen yearly to report efficiency.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman mentioned: “The crown property is an independently run organisation. All earnings are returned on to the Treasury.”
A crown property spokeswoman mentioned: “We handle in extra of 9,000 leases throughout the nation and we purpose to take care of all our properties to excessive commonplace. We take buyer suggestions critically and are thorough in recording all complaints – together with minor points – as a part of persevering with efforts to enhance our service.”
In response to the eviction figures, the spokeswoman added: “Nearly all of all notices served had been in 2014 as a part of a rural residential gross sales programme. Though we labored onerous to handle that course of in addition to doable for all these concerned, we applied a variety of insurance policies to assist our tenants in any future gross sales, together with … the chance to purchase the property at market worth; considerably elevated discover intervals – sometimes six months; lease deposits launched early to help with securing different lodging; help and recommendation on finding new properties within the native space; flexibility to accommodate the precise circumstances of the person.”
The spokeswoman mentioned each industrial and residential properties are let at market charges, including: “As we can not borrow, we frequently promote each industrial and residential properties with the intention to increase capital to take a position.”