Protesters have hit out at Tower Hamlets Council after it stopped housing support to most of the survivors of a fatal fire.

Demonstrators on Thursday (April 27) opposed the council's move outside its town hall in Whitechapel.

It comes after a fire on March 5 at a flat in Maddocks House, Shadwell killed dad-of-two Mizanur Rahman, 41 and left 17 without a home.

Many of the survivors, who were housed by the council in hotels until this morning, said they are unable to afford conventional homes and now face long-term homelessness.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that 12 of the men, whose visa conditions mean they have no recourse to public funds, now face having to find another place to stay.

No recourse to public funds means they can’t access much of the UK’s welfare system, including social housing and homelessness assistance. 

The other five men, who can access the welfare system, are being rehoused elsewhere by the council.

Hussain Ismail, organiser of the Maddocks House Support Group, told protestors that the survivors of the blaze were among 18 tenants crammed into a two-bedroom flat, with no access to a washing machine or heating.

East London Advertiser: Hussain Ismail speaks to protestersHussain Ismail speaks to protesters (Image: Sam Rucker)

According to the London Renters Union Tower Hamlets, “residents had long complained about leaks, disrepair and overcrowding in the years leading up to the fire.” 

The council confirmed to the Advertiser that they were aware of these complaints and had previously “issued enforcement”.

The tenants, all of Bangladeshi origin, reportedly paid £100 a week for the accommodation.

The average private rent in Tower Hamlets is £2,560 a month, up 33 per cent since 2021, according to estate agents Hamptons.

The Advertiser spoke to two survivors at the rally, Shahed Ahmed and Mohammed Rubel Ali.

Mohammed said: “It has all been very very bad. But we are very happy to have the support today.”

When asked what they will do next, both men said: “I don’t know.”

Nathalie Bienfait, a Green Party councillor for Bow West, also attended the protest.

She told the Advertiser: “We are not even asking for the council to necessarily provide housing, but for them to provide compassion and the right amount of information.”

East London Advertiser: The protest was held outside Tower Hamlets Town HallThe protest was held outside Tower Hamlets Town Hall (Image: Sam Rucker)

Mr Ismail took aim at Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman, adding: “We have a Bangladeshi mayor who should know better, considering he knows the struggles of our community and the vulnerability we have to go through.”

Mr Rahman had told a full council meeting on March 15: “This tragedy… represents an abuse of the most socially and economically vulnerable residents and workers by a greedy and predatory class of landlord.”

The council has opened up a criminal investigation into the fire.

A council spokesperson said it has done "our utmost to ensure they (the survivors) have been supported.”

“Though the council did not have a legal obligation… since 5 March, we have provided emergency hotel accommodation to 17 survivors, a weekly allowance totalling £1,250 per person, and welfare support and housing advice.

"Around £100,000 has been spent by the council cumulatively.

"We have been in regular contact with the survivors and provided as much notice as possible, so they have time to find their own accommodation ahead of the hotel booking end date.

“We have also done what we can to help signpost tenants to find alternative accommodation.”