Today, Michael James and supporters visited Andlow Properties letting agent in Tottenham north London, to personally deliver a petition, signed by the mayor of Tower Hamlets and 18 councillors. The activists want the landlord to reconsider the eviction notice served to Michael after he reported dangerous conditions at his block in Shadwell, east London. The campaigners, supported by Unite Community, are also demanding that the landlord carry out the necessary repairs.
Michael couldn’t deliver the petition in person because no one was available at the office. This represents one of the problems that tenants living at the same block at Michael are facing – as the landlord is rarely available if problems occur tenants are left to solve housing issues alone; often resulting in a lack repairs and flats without adequate heating and draining. The petition was delivered through the landlord’s letterbox and will also be delivered by registered post.
Michael was served an eviction notice in February 2014 for reporting dangerous conditions in his block to Tower Hamlets council. The maintenance of the block has become extremely poor in the last years, even though rents have risen. Mould is growing on walls and ceilings, causing respiratory problems for some of the tenants.
Instead of leaving his home after 24 years, Michael has started to campaign against these evictions, supported by neighbours and a local private tenants group, Tower Hamlets Renters. After a protest outside Town Hall on 11 June, the mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfer Rahman and 18 councillors signed a petition supporting Michael.
“There seems to be a one-way channel. The landlord and agent can get in touch with us if they want to raise the rent but if my bathroom ceiling is covered with mould or a dangerous piece of concrete is lying on the pathway of the third floor, no one is there to talk to. They don’t have much interest in taking care of their property.”
Michael is one of many private renters receiving an eviction notice after demanding repairs to be carried out. There is no legal protection for private renters in place so private renter groups across London are campaigning against retaliatory evictions and for longer, secure tenancies.
Rahima, a local private member of Tower Hamlets Renters, says:
“Private renters are at the mercy of their landlord: Michael was making a stand for health and safety in this block. It’s terrible that he’s set to be evicted and it’s important that his landlord can’t just get away with it. We have to unite and to sort things out together. We have the right to live in secure, decent homes.”