Housing campaigners descended on a property agent accused of abusing its tenants today calling on its owner to rescind eviction proceedings against a tenant who had the temerity to complain.
Andlow Properties, of Hackney, East London, stands accused of ignoring tenants concerns over dangerous and poor living conditions in a 19-apartment block they manage and threatening eviction or higher rents if they complain.
Tenants say the block, in Shadwell, Tower Hamlets, has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair over the years with extreme levels of damp, a leaking roof, collapsing ceilings, dodgy electrics, and poor insulation just some of the problems.
Michael James, who has lived at Chapman House, in Bigland Street, for more than 24-years, is now faced with eviction after he reported the risk of loose concrete falling onto children playing below to the council.
Both Michael and campaigners from the Tower Hamlets Private Renters group believe the eviction proceedings are in retaliation to his complaint.
Michael’s case has highlighted the insecurity private renters face no matter how longstanding a tenant has been and prompted support from housing groups, Unite the union and elected officials.
During the visit to the agent the activists delivered a letter signed by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and 18 councillors calling on the landlord and agent to withdraw eviction proceedings, carry out all necessary repairs and open a line of communication with tenants for them to report legitimate concerns without fear of eviction.
The Council’s environmental services department is currently drafting a report after it inspected 15 of the 19 flats earlier this year and found dozens of hazards that needed addressing. It is believed the work could cost the landlord tens of thousand of pounds.
While the landlord is ultimately responsible for the state of the property it is the agent’s job to maintain it. It is not clear if the landlord has refused improvements or the agent is acting alone.
However, as the owner of Andlow Properties, Aron Oberlander, lives with one of the landlords, Bracha Feige Oberlander, it is believed the agent’s inaction is in line with the landlord’s wishes.
Attempts to contact both the landlord and agent have thus far been futile. When activists visited the agent today no one would answer the door or pick up the phone to answer questions over its actions.
However, they will be left in no doubt that they will not be able to bully or evict the tenants of Chapman House without a fight.
Michael said: “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 the property.”
Ironically on returning home after the protest Michael bumped into one of the agent’s employees, who refused to answer questions about repairs to his mouldy bathroom and scuttled off before he could ask about his eviction.