Lobby at Tower Hamlets over whistle-blower facing eviction after 24 years
PUBLISHED: 07:01 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 08:20 12 August 2014
Michael James faces a mid-life crisis being booted out of the home he's rented for 24 years in London's East End—all because he says he complained about dangerous conditions in his block of flats.
Now his plight, with just six weeks before he is out on the streets, has sparked a campaign to get a Tower Hamlets private landlords’ register started like in neighbouring Newham.
The 52-year-old bachelor complained to his landlords about conditions at Shadwell’s Chapman House.
That was even before he says the roof collapsed onto a tenant’s flat on the top floor.
So the whistle-blower went to the council which sent inspectors to examine the state of the block.
“They thought it was important enough to contact the landlord,” Michael told the East London Advertiser.
“The landlord visited the building and I pointed out damage to the concrete slabs which you could kick off the landing and seriously injure someone.
“Two days later, I got an eviction notice.”
He has to be out of the flat by the end of September because private landlords “don’t have to say anything or explain why they want to get rid of a tenant”.
A neighbour told of his plight at a meeting of the newly-formed Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Group which is now calling for a landlords register.
This would mean inspectors automatically checking properties for safety without tenants having to complain, which many fear leads to evictions or their rents being hiked up.
A lobby at Tower Hamlets council was organised by the group’s Glenn McMahon, who lodged a question asking councillors what action was being taken “to enforce better conditions after reports of serious disrepair and threats of retaliatory evictions at Chapman House.”
Glenn said later: “There’s no regulation in private renting in the East End and we want to see that changed with a landlord licensing scheme like Newham’s to tackle these landlords.
“All 32,000 private properties would pay £100 a year for registration which would bring in £3.2 million to pay for inspectors to tell landlords what they need to sort out. The council only has the power to act on unsafe conditions if someone complains—which puts their tenancy at risk of retaliation.”
Michael James says his landlords, Lepex Holdings, have “no justification” to evict him from his £700-a-month flat.
Lepex Holdings is registered at a north London address in Finchley Road, Temple Fortune, buying and selling its own real estate, with an unlisted phone number and no published email address when the Advertiser tried to contact them. The company has three listed directors, on the board 22 years—ironically, just two years after Michael first moved into his flat.