COUNCIL house tenants have voted in favour of transferring their homes to a new landlord as part of scheme bringing massive investment to a Teesside town.

Residents agreed Erimus Housing should take over from Middlesbrough Council after it promised to invest £103m during the next five years.

The non-profit organisation is run by tenants, councillors and independent housing experts and has pledged to dramatically upgrade housing in Middlesbrough by spending £500m over the next three decades.

Sixty per cent of the 14,000 residents cast their votes by post, with 77 per cent backing the scheme.

Mayor of Middlesbrough Ray Mallon said: "It is a very good result for the people of Middlesbrough.

"That kind of money is just a dream where local authorities are concerned. It will do a great deal to make the 13,000 homes in Middlesbrough social housing of the highest quality. What we are looking at are very modern high-tech houses."

The take-over will formally take place on October 1 subject to confirmation by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Middlesbrough Council's executive member for housing, Councillor Ron Lowes, said the authority was looking forward to working with Erimus.

He said: "Tenants have made the right choice.

"The council looks on Erimus as a new and important partner in its task of making Middlesbrough a safer, better, more vibrant town.

"We share the hopes for communities across the town and promise to work with them to deliver the improvements which people are awaiting so eagerly."

Middlesbrough councillor Bob Brady, chairman of the Erimus Housing shadow board, said the council did not have the money to provide the necessary investment needed in the town itself.

Coun Brady said: "The vote means that Middlesbrough will be able to invest the kind of money in its housing stock that local people deserve.

"It will mean better homes and better estates and a major boost for the local economy.

"Erimus will help the council raise hope across Middlesbrough and contribute to the Mayor's vision for a more prosperous town."