Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick has pledged his support for tenants threatened with eviction by East Thames Housing Association.

East Thames residents told Mr Fitzpatrick at a surgery meeting they received letters stating they must either buy their homes or vacate them.

Residents living in an intermediate market rented property received the news that the housing association had taken the “difficult decision” in light of “the current economic climate.”

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A spokeswoman for East Thames told Mr Fitzpatrick : “As you are aware, we have had to review our housing offer in line with government changes, particularly the year on year rent cut, which will result in a £14m reduction to our annual income.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “Residents have found themselves in the most worrying of positions. If they can’t buy their property, they’re out. It’s as simple as that.

“Having spoken with them in person, I know they are anxious and uncertain about that most fundamental of human needs – the roof over their heads. I’ll do everything I can to support their efforts to stay in their homes.”

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The MP said he has arranged to meet with East Thames’ chief executive, Yvonne Arrowsmith, to discuss the matter.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “This situation is even more distressing for residents because they have been given so little time in which to get to grips with this proposed change to their circumstances.

“A deadline of October 23 for expressing interest in purchasing their homes was set by East Thames, and some have done so simply to ensure they are not immediately regarded as having opted for eviction instead.

“Ultimately, housing associations such as East Thames are currently being put in the most invidious of positions by government policies. However, I am calling on East Thames to review and to find a way to reverse this decision.”

East Thames sent a lengthy response to the story, in which it claimed it was it was “streamlining its stock” and than money generated would go back into its social housing provision.

It conceded some residents would have been taken by surprise, and that it was extending the notice period on the homes.

It said: “East Thames has taken the difficult decision to streamline its stock so it is simpler and more cost effective to manage. We will now provide homes for social and affordable rent, shared ownership and private sale only. We will no longer offer homes for intermediate market rent (IMR) nor for rent now, buy later (RNBL) which gave residents up to five years to purchase their home.

“This period has now come to an end, and residents have a final chance to purchase their homes, before we convert these properties to shared ownership.

“We would like to apologise to residents for any distress caused by this change. While we always planned to convert our rent now, buy later homes, we understand that the decision to convert the other properties to affordable home ownership will have been unexpected by some of our residents, and that not everyone will be able to take the opportunity to purchase a share of their home. We also appreciate that, despite being clear in our tenancy agreements, the two month notice period may not provide adequate time for residents that are unable to purchase their home to find somewhere else to live.

“We are therefore extending this notice period for families and for those with exceptional circumstances who may need more time to find alternative accommodation. We are also offering one to one support and advice for those affected and putting them in touch with organisations which provide suitable accommodation.

“We have made the decision to convert these properties because we know that many of our residents find it difficult to take that first step onto the property ladder. Providing more homes for shared ownership will give more people this opportunity, in fact a third of the residents we have contacted have already expressed an interest in purchasing their home.

“The sale of these properties will allow us to invest the income generated into building much needed affordable homes across east London and Essex and into maintaining our existing homes. Finally, the conversion will make our stock simpler and more cost effective to manage, enabling us to provide a better service to our customers.”