Who wants to be a millionaire?

17 Apr

Ayesha Chowdhury 

Beckon lead councillor Ayesha Chowdhury owns a property portfolio worth in excess of £4 million

On Monday Newham council officers and the police forcibly took back possession of a flat in Stratford that had been occupied by its former tenant and the Focus E15 housing campaign. Jasmin Stone, the most prominent of the campaigners was arrested and later bailed.

It is the latest in a long line of incidents that highlight the chronic shortage of social housing in the borough and the council’s complete lack of interest in those who need it most. When anyone dares to challenge the mayor’s priorities – “developers, developers, developers,” to borrow a phrase – he has no hesitation in sending in the heavies.

The ‘developers first’ policy means that the gleaming glass and steel towers going up in Canning Town, Royal Docks and Stratford contain few, if any, affordable units. Properties are openly marketed to overseas investors with the tagline ‘no social housing’.

With hundreds of council homes being deliberately left empty and new builds aimed squarely at the investment market, the thousands of families on the social housing waiting list have few options. Demand for private rented accommodation has rocketed and rents have soared – along with the housing benefit bill – transferring wealth upwards into the ever-expanding pockets of the rich.

Which is good news for the large number of Newham councillors who are private landlords.

Take Beckton’s Ayesha Chowdhury, for example. She has amassed a portfolio of Newham properties that – based on estimates from property website Zoopla.co.uk – is now worth more than £4 million. Zoopla also provides an estimate of her potential monthly rental income. If all Cllr Chowdhury’s properties are let out at these rates she’ll be pulling in close to £19,000 a month.

  Purchase Price Current Value Increase Monthly rental
82 Downings, E6 £105,000 £238,000 £133,000 £1,100
95 Lonsdale Avenue, E6 £55,000 £165,000 £110,000 £790
6 Truesdale Road, E6 £122,000 £260,000 £138,000 £1,200
100 Park Avenue, E6 £72,000 £185,000 £113,000 £890
199 Tollgate Road, E6 £65,000 £172,000 £107,000 £828
10 Harrier Way, E6 £249,000 £370,000 £121,000 £1,700
27 Trader Road, E6 £198,500 £295,000 £96,500 £1,365
5 Hogarth Close, E16 £185,000 £296,000 £111,000 £1,588
47 Plymouth Road, E16 £140,000 £219,000 £79,000 £868
205 Tollgate Road, E6 £57,500 £152,000 £94,500 £732
18 Eric Close E7 £189,000 £264,000 £75,000 £1,021
96a Plashet Grove E7 £160,000 £188,000 £28,000 £903
5 Chelmsford Close, E6 £225,000 £334,000 £109,000 £1,546
203 Tollgate Road, E6 £160,000 £197,000 £37,000 £950
5a Hogarth Close, E6* £75,000 £195,000 £120,000 £1,000
39 Albatross Close, E6 £191,600 £287,000 £95,400 £1,380
20 Viscount Drive, E6** £205,000 £210,000 £5,000 £1,011
TOTALS: £2,454,600 £4,027,000 £1,572,400 £18,872

* New build – estimated construction cost

** My estimate – actual sale price not yet available

This might be portrayed by some as a story of hard work and a reward for enterprise. But until 2011 Cllr Chowdhury lived in social housing, paying a subsidised social rent while building her private fortune. She only moved into one of her own properties when the story appeared in the national press.

Despite this she was reselected as a Labour candidate for last year’s council election and rewarded by Sir Robin with an extra £6,679 a year as mayoral advisor and lead community councillor.

As the old saying has it, money goes to money.

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7 Responses to “Who wants to be a millionaire?”

  1. Darren. April 17, 2015 at 14:57 #

    Superb piece.

  2. s April 17, 2015 at 17:26 #

    Be interesting to know if they all have a’buy to let’ morgauge.

  3. Birdman April 17, 2015 at 20:53 #

    Is there any way of knowing how much of the rent is paid through housing benefits, and whether any of the tenants were placed by the LA. The answers to such questions could mean a conflict of interest. I was also interested to read that she was in social housing until the story about her private property was revealed in the press. Why was no action taken? Why was she not suspended by the Labour Party? All very strange.

  4. d April 20, 2015 at 12:24 #

    Does each and every property reach the goverment’s decent homes standard?

  5. X April 21, 2015 at 00:19 #

    Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury only needs to declare her Newham properties. Since the publicity, she may have bought outside Newham.

    Her portfolio may be worth £4million, but when she sells her properties, she has to pay off the mortgages and then pay Capital Gains Tax on the profits. Her net worth is around £1million. She would have to pay £440,000 in Capital Gains Tax. And if she kicks the bucket, then another £400,000 would end up in inheritance tax. The taxman will be doing nicely out of Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury.

    With Newham Licensing all properties, she would have had to pay £500 per property (14 x £500 = . £7,000. In 2-3 years time, she would need to renew all her Licenses.

    Birdman ‘Is there any way of knowing how much of the rent is paid through housing benefits, and whether any of the tenants were placed by the LA’

    Birdman, If Cllr Ayesha has any housing benefit tenants, then I suggest people do not make a political issue out of it. By attacking her, you indirectly attack housing benefit tenants. Leaving all the national propaganda about welfare / housing benefit going to private Landlords. The reality of the situation is that Housing Benefit is not paying Landlords the ‘market rent’ for their property. This is because in successive budgets, have seen housing benefit largely frozen (fixed at 0% to 1% max). This is not to be confused with Council / HA social rents where rents are going up by a bumper 7% per year.

    Birdman, if Cllr Ayesha, decided to evict her housing benefit tenants (if she has any), she would be condemning them to be re-housed in Birminghan or Luton.They would not be able to find properties in Newham.

    Birdman, the last Labour Government has made it less attractive for private Landlords to rent their properties to housing benefit tenants. Since 2008, they have been paying housing benefit directly to the tenant’s bank accounts. These tenants cannot manage their finances and are often spending the money on other things and falling into arrears. Newham has the eviction rate in the country. Landlords are reluctant to re-let their properties to another housing benefit tenant. It makes it harder for the likes of Focus E15 mums to find a willing Landlord.

    Birdman, The situation has been compounded by Newham COuncil deciding to License all private Landlords. They all had to pay £500 per property, which has put an upward pressure on rents. It has widened the gap further between Newham’s ‘market rents’ and rent limited by ‘housing benefit.

    The Focus E15 mums, cannot find a private home to rent, because Sir Robin made it clear he does not like private landlords. All the council departments have policies which are hostile to landlords. I have seen a number of homes put up for sale, with notices given the tenants.

    Sir Robin Wales, wants to buy up all properties on the market so he can rent them out himself. He wants to become a mega landlords.

    • Birdman April 21, 2015 at 09:21 #

      Dear x

      What an interesting reply. I can’t make out whether you are an apologist for Cllr Ayesha or you disapprove. My point was a simple one. If the LA place tenants in her properties or they receive benefit from the LA to pay the rent, there is a possible conflict of interest. I am not stigmatising anyone and I am more than aware of what is going on in the area of Newham housing policy. However, I think, like Martin’s post, we should focus on Cllr Ayesha

      She is not the first councillor in Newham to go from living in social housing to property owner and landlord. I doubt she will be the last. However, the scale of her ownership is huge and I am still interested in whether anyone investigated how she was able to qualify for social housing and then become so rich. Who knows? She might have won the lottery or another innocent reason but at first glance it looks wrong.

      • X April 21, 2015 at 16:09 #

        Dear Birdman,

        You have raised a valid point, how can someone living in social housing go on to become a million pound property landlord.As you say focus on Cllr Ayesha, but the question is how many other people are there living in social housing, who are property landlords or well off with good jobs or have holiday homes abroad.

        I believe Cllr Ayesha, got lucky, as the cheapest property is £55K, she would have been able to borrow more money against rising value of her property. On her £55k, she would have needed seed money of £11k (20% deposit). She was at the right place at the right time. Thank you Labour for the housing price bubble (sic)!.

        I find the whole idea of social housing perverse. You have wealthy people such as Cllr Ayesha, who were living in one, you have Frank Dobson MP earning £80,000 and the late Bob Crow who earned £100,000. Why do they have the lifetime right subsidised rent?.

        You have asylum seekers coming into Westminister, who get council housing or get put in private luxury homes at a cost of £55,000 per year. People may attack social cleaning, but the average working person cannot afford to live in Westminster. People seem to get hereditary rights to live in Westminister. There state should look after people, but it has to be within reason.

        I do not believe any social housing should be built, as it is the not the home which should be ‘social’, but rather the person. So if a person earns more money, they pay market rent, if their wages drop, they pay social rent. (with top-up from the Government).

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