Vulnerable Islington tenants stranded as charity landlord evicts them so it can build homes

The block in Friend St that is being extended.

The block in Friend St that is being extended. - Credit: Archant

An education charity has left tenants in its housing stock stranded after handing them eviction notices so it can build more homes.

The Dame Alice Owen’s Foundation, through its agent Daniel Watney, is adding a fourth story to blocks in Friend Street and St John Street.

As a result, those living on the first and second floors have been told to pack their bags.

Some who have been there for decades have assured tenancies, and are moving to empty ground floor flats while work is carried out above them.

But others, who don’t have the protection of an assured tenancy, have been told to find somewhere else to live. One woman, herself a part-time teacher, is outraged.

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She said: “We got a section 21 notice saying they had applied for planning permission and mine said: ‘Unfortunately we need access to flats and I have to serve you notice’.

“That was at the end of July. I’m disabled and claiming some housing benefit and I’m teaching part time. This is an educational charity kicking me out. I’ve got until September 30.”

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The woman has turned to Islington Council and Emily Thornberry for help, but knows the charity is within its rights to evict her.

“I’ve been told to stay put until they apply for a court order but I’ll be the only one left in here,” she continued. “I have been referred to Homefinders by the council. This organisation has a few properties in north east England and Scotland, which would mean losing my job, the support network I have built, my GP and social care and mental health interventions as well as the social contacts that make me feel safe when leaving my flat.”

Another tenant who has been evicted but has somewhere to go has also criticised the lack of communication with tenants.

He said: “I’ll be able to find somewhere else but my concern is more with the vulnerable people. The remaining residents, the people being left there, will be in their 70s and 80s. What kind of fun is that going to be with the work going on all day? The residents would like to know who is driving this? Is it the charity or is it the trustees or the agent?”

The Gazette has not been able to contact the Dame Alice Owen’s Foundation. Daniel Watney and charity trustees Brewers Hall have not responded to requests for comment.

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