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Greenwich family moved to infested and damp Medway private letting

A Greenwich family have revealed details of conditions in a private home they moved into after being evicted by a private landlord seeking a rent increase.

Ben Franklin had lived in the borough for most of his life and lives with wife Katherine and children Ava, 2, and 11 month old Tilly. He was part way through therapy at the time they moved. Photos show apparent signs of infestation and mould in their current home.

The family were informed by their previous landlord that they wanted to refurbish the home in order to gain higher rent, and thus raise prices to a level the family could not afford.

Moved from family and friends

Gaining money for a deposit and removal company proved impossible at short notice and they turned to Greenwich Council for help. A chronic lack of social homes in the borough meant they were offered a place in Medway with a days notice.

Franklin, 37, states:

“They agreed to put us into temp accommodation though we could only find out where we were going on the final day of tenancy. So we waited down the council office for the whole day.

At 5pm a woman walks out and says you are moving to Chatham and will have to meet the landlord in an hour and a half! We stated that this was not possible as we have two kids. And I had mentioned that I have mental health issues and support network here (including therapist).”

The condition of the home raises big questions over inspection of properties. The family were only supposed to be there for 56 days, which took them to November. They are still there today.

This is an issue close to my heart, and one in which many could find themselves. Trying to save and create a safety net while paying very high rents in London is not at all easy. It just takes illness or period of sick leave to leave people in a dire position.

That’s before a landlord seeks to increase rent or evict. Add that to the mix and major problems ensue – and there’s little safety net even if one has lived in an area for many years.

It’s even worse when sick. Support networks via family and friends in a local area are severed. Moving miles away sets back recovery. Changing schools, doctors, dentists and hospital appointments is a laborious task at the best of times. Doing so when ill is something else. Mould and infestation then exacerbate existing health problems whether physical or psychiatric.

Mould on wall

The family have complained and were offered a move but were again given a day’s notice which was insufficient to sort schooling and packing. They now have no confirmed date and whilst desperate for a move are asking for three days notice to arrange.

A lack of social housing is causing hardship for many people across the country – and costing everyone. Private lettings are expensive and taxpayers are paying for the chronic lack of social and truly affordable housing. Greenwich Council revealed another emergency £2.8 million additional spend last month due to housing pressure.

UPDATE: Greenwich Council have contacted the family after this post was uploaded and an inspection is due.

11 Comments

  1. Man Like

    really terrible situation

  2. Ashley

    Greenwich Council have had ample opportunity to keep much needed sites for utilisation for housing and or temporary accommodation.

    Riverside house for one, it doesn’t help a Councillor defrauding the Borough for Social housing either as 853 shows today.

    It’s time she dropped being a councillor and allow someone who will help make a true difference for the borough and it’s community.

  3. This is appalling. The family has no chance to returning to the borough since they were private tenants.

    Should things end badly, the council will express sympathy and regret but say it did the best it could under the circumstances.

  4. Dylan George

    Maybe if the council utilised the many sites solf off to for so-called luxury flats, then this situation would likely not happen.

  5. Comment by post author

    fromthemurkydepths

    Lots of complaints about Greenwich Council but central Government hold most of the cards and persist in blocking much truly affordable housing.

    • What about Meridian Homes? Such vehicles allow local authorities to build social housing, but Greenwich is not doing nearly enough. It proudly boasted that it was going to build a pitiful 700 odd homes in 2021/22 (my memory of the council leader’s guest [puff] piece is a bit sketchy). Not good enough in the face of the number of people on the housing waiting list. Meanwhile big developer is snapping up every bit of council owned land on which to fling up flimsy high rises to be sold at extortionate prices. I would like to see a community land bank so that co-operatives can build cheaply, not badly, and give more people a chance of secure home occupation.

      • Comment by post author

        fromthemurkydepths

        Yep the council can do more and I’ve covered a lot of avenues that could be pursued. I just didn’t want it to become solely a council bashing as central Government have a big role in this problem.

  6. Karen Helling

    Always there f…… same
    The rich get richer and the poor …who gives f…!
    Sooo had enough of this. Please give Me one day in government…No more wasting money on railway where 2% of people will save 20 minutes on a f…..g journey,!,
    Build house’s..stop landlords charging totally unaffordable rents
    This is NOT Great Britain but Dickinson Britain,,,we have NOT moved on
    children starving,,,,NO NOT One the third World but NOT so Great Britain
    Makes me Sick…..What do You Think?

    • Comment by post author

      fromthemurkydepths

      Making spending either/or with rail or homes is not wise – especially for a developed, wealthy nation. Plenty of other countries manage it. People need to get to work, we need new homes (one of HS2s core reasons is to free up the busy west coast lines for mass housebuilding in places like Milton Keynes with huge potential – much land near the station is empty but the line is full) and it’s good for pollution and reducing diesel emissions including freight. A 20 minute journey saving misses the meaning of a new line. That was (awful) PR. Capacity is the reason.

      Averaged over 30 years even the most expensive estimate is still £3 billion per year. Other cost overruns with military spending exceeding that never get the tabloids attention, nor the many IT projects that cost more and go wrong.

      It’s very odd that 1) HS2 gets so much press attention while other things do not and 2) other nations can provide good housing and have well developed, modern transport networks.

    • We are living in increasingly ‘Dickensian times’.

      The last government started a consultation on s21 ‘no fault’ evictions but landlords are up in arms because they say any change will prevent them from getting rid of problem tenants. Section 21 IS NOT the route for this and any landlord who wants to terminate a tenancy should be made to state why. Still I suppose it doesn’t look good on paper saying ‘I want to gouge more rent out of the property’, which is usually the reason for the eviction.

  7. Graham

    Greenwich Council have lost ample chances to build much needed social housing (Council Homes) instead preferring to sell council owned land to private developers rather than build homes themselves. .

    There are also a lot of buildings that are left empty for years and years. The old pub on the corner of John Wilson Street/Wellington Street springs to mind (Cannot not remember what it used to be called) as been empty for years now. There need a scheme where these buildings can be brought back in to use to provide much needed homes.

    Greeenwich Council need to get tougher on private lanlords. There should be a rent cap in The Borough as private rented homes are out of reach for the majority of residents on moderate incomes let alone those on lower incomes or benefits.

    There are many privtaely rented homes in the Borough that are either in a poor state of repair or over crowded etc but the council are not issuing the fines to landlords to make them improve their properties and bring them up to a decent and safe standard.

    This case highlights the fact the Council are not carrying out the necessary checks to landlords homes before signing them up to be landlords.

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