SHOCKED tenants of Crown Estate properties in Somerset have been sent letters telling them to buy their homes or move out.
Families with children and former estate workers are among residents given between two and four months to leave with no explanation other than that the Estate wants to invest in other assets.
The Estate manages a wide range of properties across the UK on behalf of the Crown and all its profits are returned to the Treasury.
Almost one-third of the homes owned by the Estate locally are to be sold – 32 out of 101 properties.
Ruth King, who has lived in her Staple Fitzpaine home for 15 years, raising a family, said: “It used to be that when you had a Crown Estate property you had security.
“I thought we’d be here for the rest of our lives. We’re devastated now to find this won’t be so.”
County councillor Ross Henley has lobbied the Estate to rethink.
He said: “I’ve met tenants who are vulnerable, frail and distressed, and even those who haven’t had a visit or a letter are wondering if they’ll be next.
“What I want the Crown Estate to do is remove the threat of eviction from these people.
“There are no other affordable homes in these villages and losing these families will tear the communities apart.”
Neil Jacobson, Crown Estate portfolio manager, said: “We understand this may come as a disappointment to some tenants, which is why we’are offering all those affected the chance to discuss purchasing the property they’ve been renting should they wish.
“Conscious also that finding alternative accommodation can be challenging, we’re providing substantially increased notice periods above the statutory minimum (two months) and will look sympathetically on any personal circumstances that would mean tenants can’t meet the timescales we’ve proposed.”
A public meeting takes place at Neroche village hall at 7pm tomorrow (Thursday) when it is hoped the scale of the issue will become more apparent.
To contact the meeting’s organisers, email email@example.com