Croydon tenant in illegal property nightmare needs help!

by Readers Question

12:05 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

Croydon tenant in illegal property nightmare needs help!

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Croydon tenant in illegal property nightmare needs help!

My name is Matthew and I a rented a property in Thornton Heath CR7. I am 3 months rent in arrears to make that clear.

I have lived at the property since April 2012 paying rent on time every month until 3 months ago. The Croydon council were doing maintenance work and noticed the cottage at the rear of the property, which is where I was renting. They informed me that the property I lived in did not exist on their plans!

The council then informed me that the house had been built illegally without any planning permission and did not have any concrete foundations so it was classified as a shed! This being unsuitable for human habitation and that I would more than likely have to vacate the property within 6 months!

When trying repeatedly for 4 months to get hold of my landlady I never managed to once! Then 3/4 weeks ago her husband came to the door and said I had to leave the property within a week! He then came back a week later and started swearing and shouting to get out of his house. That weekend they turned my water and electricity off without any written permission from anyone. I then contacted the police, the council and citizens advice bureau of Croydon to let them know what had happened.

I had an electrician come out and turn the electricity back on and I turned the water on at the stopcock myself under advice from Thames water. On Wednesday while I was at work the landlord came to my property and woke my roommate up after entering the premises themselves! He attempted to phone 999 at which point her and 3 hired men took his phone away, they only have it back once he had exited the property!

They then changed all the locks and three everything that I owned out of the building. I then left work and came home and when I got there the locks had been changed and all my property was outside! I jumped over the fence and entered the house and asked them to leave, he then grabbed me by the neck and threw me out! I phoned the police and they came and arrested him for assault at which point he claimed I came in with a knife so the police have dropped the charge as it is my word against his!

After returning from the police station to give statements it was pitch black! The policemen asked the landlady to put my stuff back inside as it was going to get damaged! They refused. That night it rained so ferociously that everything I own is destroyed! I have nowhere to leave it and it poured with rain again on Thursday and today! I am staying at a friends house but my property is still at my old house!  I need urgent help.

Thanks very much. Matt help



Comments

Neil Patterson

12:09 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

I am very sorry to hear of your situation Matt especially at this time of year.

This very much sounds like a Police issue for your own protection and you have done the right thing asking for help from the CAB and the council.

Have you paid a deposit and is it by any chance protected?

Do you also have contents insurance as you will need to inform your insurers as soon as possible.?

Mike W

12:26 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

Firstly let me say this is disgraceful. But you are dealing with someone who has no regard for the law. The unauthorized construction of a building for human habitation is illegal but a matter for the council to pursue. I suggest making the council aware of your situation as, in part, their discovery of your situation has resulted in you being made homeless.

Clearly you could sue (in the County Court) your landlord since his actions have resulted in your loss. You would need the help of the citizen's advice bureau but the process is quite simple. Whether you would get any money back is for you to judge: how wealthy is the landlord?

As the previous post. Go back to the police and report all the facts. I am surprised the police dropped the charge as clearly on the balance of probability his actions arose because he thinks you are responsible for the Council discovering his illegal actions.

Inform the council of all the facts: planning and housing departments. They may be able to help.

Complain to the local Councillor and MP.

Contact Shelter.

I am afraid I cannot express my thoughts on this matter on a public board as it would probably be deemed contrary to the rules, but I am sure you get my drift.

Ed Atkinson

12:44 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

This is shocking. The landlord needs prosecuting, not least for criminally damaging your possessions. The rent arrears are not relevant.

In addition to all the above, don't disregard Neil's question on deposits. It sounds highly unlikely that the landlord has protected your deposit if you paid one. If so you stand to gain the deposit and I think 3 times more back from him.

Jeremy Smith

12:54 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

These sort of landlords need prosecuting all the way !!

It seems to me that you need some professional help, perhaps a solicitor that deals with this sort of thing.
I would get someone on board to help you as soon as you can, and not let your previous landlord know your address, it seems he would be the sort to try to threaten you to drop any charges.
Mark Alexander is away at the moment, but I would be interested to hear what he would advise you to do.

Good Luck Matt, we're behind you all the way.

Ollie Cornes

13:02 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

This landlord is a criminal - apparently stealing, threatening, attempting illegal eviction (including switching off utilities). Landlords like this give good landlords a bad name. Please note that tenancies can only end under two circumstances: 1) the tenant agrees with the landlord to leave, or 2) a court-appointed bailiff attends an eviction. Landlords cannot evict tenants themselves, it is illegal and the police should be called and asked to arrest the landlord. If the landlord rented you a property that does not have the appropriate permissions to be rented, that's likely to be his problem and not yours.

If your landlord did not properly protect your deposit then you are likely to be able to make a claim against him to recover any deposit you paid and potentially some fairly substantial compensation. This web site will help you confirm if you can make a claim and how http://www.tenancydepositclaims.co.uk/

I also strongly suggest you contact Shelter on 0808 800 4444
http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/private_renting

This "landlord" is clearly a very unpleasant person and I hope you can quickly find somewhere else to stay where you are safe from this criminal acts and threats. If there is a possibility of legal action (you might find a no-win-no-fee law firm who will take it on) then remember to keep notes of dates/times for when things happened.

If you need more help I'm sure people here will be happy to assist you where we can.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

14:31 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

Matthew you need to call my colleague in Croydon Council, the Tenancy Relations Officer about the eviction and the landlord's behaviour towards you. Do it now because the longer you leave it the harder it is for TROs to take emergency action.

Harassment and illegal are criminal offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 but it is the council not the police which prosecutes under this legislation.

I would also call Croydon's planning department about the unlawful building. If they are to serve planning notices ordering them to tear it down then they must do so no later than 4 years after it being built, otherwise it gets problematical and they could leave it standing.

Also call this number 0800 788 887...the HMRC tax dodger line because you can bet your next year's income your dodgy landlord isnt paying tax on the rental income. (Sorry folks but its in the dirty tricks bag of the working TRO)

Keep all receipts for things you have to spend out on whilst out of the property (Laundry, take-aways etc) Also get the new Argos catalogue and began creating a list of the cost of replacement goods that have been damaged because you should also begin a civil claim against the landlords. If you are eligible for legal aid try Anthony Gold Solicitors in Walworth Road (This is the cre who run the Nearly Legal blog) or Olu Ayodeji at Duncan Lewis in New Cross. Good committed guy who really knows his stuff. Alternatively the Croydon TRO might have a more local one she can recommend

Ollie Cornes

17:29 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

No need to apologise Ben, people like this deserve to be shopped to HMRC and be greeted by the sharp toe of karma.

I didn't realise councils prosecute landlords under these circumstances not the police, thanks for clarifying.

Matthew Mackenzie

18:43 PM, 23rd December 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "23/12/2013 - 14:31":

Hey Ben! Yes that's me!! Still can't believe what she was thinking! I have left about 15 messages for the tenancy relations office and they just aren't getting back to me! Is this the right number? 02087605749 the CAB has also been very unhelpful and all they say is I need to get a private solicitor. I did speak to the TRO on the day it was happening but 4pm so it was too late for them to do anything and they just aren't getting back to me! Thanks for the advice

Joe Bloggs

9:20 AM, 24th December 2013
About 7 years ago

I recommend Claire Wiles of GT Stewart based at their Croydon office. She is a very experienced and professional housing solicitor.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

9:39 AM, 24th December 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Matthew Mackenzie" at "23/12/2013 - 18:43":

I dont know how Croydon do their appointments and emergencies but in my borough we have a drop in service for anyone in your position. If you turned up at my office we would simply take you on. Unfortunately I have no powers outside of my own London borough, it would have to be the Croydon TRO. I havent got their direct line number I'm afraid.

It doesnt surprise me that you cant get hold of the TRO, people make the same complaint of me to be honest but we are out on illegal evictions or in court much of the time, TROs arent big teams, often one or two, in fact many councils dont have TROs at all.

If you can go in to their office (Probably Fell Rd) and ask to speak to a TRO you may have more success. Dont forget to whack in a complaint to the planning department as well to see if they have built it without planning permission, the clock will be ticking on that one.

Dont expect much from the CAB other than advice - it really is the council's job on this one


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