Special Report | North London council to evict 1,500 tenants in crackdown on “unauthorised” living

In January, Haringey council revealed plans to evict hundreds of tenants from three sprawling industrial sites in Tottenham, after discovering private landlords had been renting commercial warehouse spaces to a young, London creative community for over a decade. The plans have sparked outrage from residents who are now fighting back to save their homes, and in many cases, their livelihoods.

New in Ceasefire, Special Reports - Posted on Monday, March 3, 2014 0:00 - 52 Comments

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Overbury Road - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

In January, Haringey Council in north London revealed plans to evict an estimated 1,500 residents of industrial warehouses in a crackdown on landlords illegally renting out commercial spaces as residential accommodation.

The plans to evict the two sprawling former industrial estates in South Tottenham (and the £600,000 of taxpayer’s money earmarked to carry them out) were made public following the council planning department’s discovery of 322 warehouse units containing a minimum of 727 “unauthorised” bedrooms being rented illegally. Council officials claim the properties are in poor conditions and unsuitable for living – many without windows, adequate kitchens or bathrooms, lacking proper fire safety regulations, and housing up to 20 people each.

Eade Road inside - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

The proposals will spell the end of the village-like neighbourhood for the people who live on one site covering Overbury Road, Catwalk Place, Eade Road and Cara House, some of whom have called these warehouses home for up to a decade. “People who have lived here for a long time have inroads into the community,” says 39-year-old Jay, who has lived in Tottenham for 20 years and in one of the conversions on Overbury Road for six-and-a-half. “People who were born and bred in Tottenham live here as well as hundreds of others from all over, young and old; it’s its own community.”

The move could also harm a local micro-economy spawned by the estate, as swathes of self-employed artists, musicians, craftspeople and entrepreneurs say they rely on the ‘live/work’ workshop and studio spaces afforded by the warehouse set-up. Each day a neighbourhood Facebook group buzzes with offers and requests of services ranging from plumbers to graphic designers to tailors.

Danny Taylor - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

“Without the cheap office space and networks of people I couldn’t have set up my business,” says Helen, who runs a digital technology start-up. Like many residents, she was wary of giving her full name due to worries about the impending evictions. Danny Taylor, 35 (pictured above,) a web designer, spoke similarly about working from home: “My housemates and I use our living space for ‘creative days’, where we all use our trades to work for each other, and in the week I have my own studio space here that I work from. It’s a house full of working professionals.”

But the privilege of living in one of these ad-hoc spaces doesn’t come cheap, and rents have gone up in recent years. With £500 the lower-end of the asking price for a room, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the one or two landlords believed to own 70% of the buildings in question are making upwards of £4 million a year in rental income.

The story goes back to the 1990s, when the local textiles industry in the N15 area went into decline as the ‘rag trade’ was lured abroad by cheaper labour, leaving warehouses empty. Building owners began letting the former factory floors as cheap studio spaces that artists adapted to double up as makeshift dwellings, and as demand rose, the spaces were converted to accommodate for more and more tenants.

P. Christofi 'Chris' - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

“There’s an array of people always working on creative projects. Industrial spaces seem to attract industrious people,” comments musician Ellis Gardiner, one of Overbury Road’s longest-standing residents who moved here 14 years ago and now does property and environmental management on behalf of Provewell Ltd, one of the biggest landlords in the area with 760 tenants.

“Two indicators of community safety in sociological terms are how many neighbours you know by name and how closely you are associated with your property. We score highly on both here”.

Now the tenants of this close-knit neighbourhood face mass evictions as Labour-run Haringey council seeks to return the buildings to their original commercial use in the hope that they can encourage businesses to come back to the area.

Roddy Skeaping - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

Yet residents claim it’s delusional to believe they can coax big name employers back to South Tottenham – listed on the European Deprivation Index as one of the most deprived areas of the country – particularly when parking limitations, restrictions on HGVs and high congestion in surrounding Manor House and Stamford Hill make the area an uninviting place to set up shop.

Of course, the council is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to balancing housing needs with encouraging job creation in the borough, which has the second-highest proportion of unemployment benefit claimants in London. But businesses aren’t exactly queuing up to take over the units says P. Christofi (“Chris”) who has run a garage on Overbury Road for 16 years.

“When I opened up here, the whole street was dress manufacturing businesses, but half of them liquidated every six months or so with debts,” says Chris. “Manufacturing went abroad when rents got higher in the ‘90s and the rag trade got affected badly – a lot of commercial businesses won’t be able to afford the high business rates in the area and the council probably receive a lot more now in council tax than they would otherwise.”

Inside - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

Chris echoes a sense among residents that the council is trying to turn back the clock by imagining mass employment on open-plan factory floors, a paradigm of industry that has largely disappeared from Britain. Insisting on the area being an ‘industrial zone’ ignores the reality that dozens of small businesses already operate out of there.

Though the question of when exactly Haringey Council first became aware of the 1,500 “unauthorised” residents in the borough remains a matter of debate  (after all, they’ve been collecting council tax and picking up waste from some of them for more than a decade) the issue eventually came to the fore following a fire at one warehouse on nearby Hermitage Road last year, after which the fire brigade immediately condemned the building for lack of fire escapes and exits and gave tenants two hours to leave.

This sparked investigations that led the council to conclude “more often than not the buildings are not fit for habitation – with no means of escape in an emergency; poor sanitation, and a lack of basic facilities for residents who deserve better.” And they believe that “overcrowding in the units can also cause problems with noise nuisance and litter for people living in nearby houses.”

Cara House meeting - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

While health and safety concerns might lend a sense of legitimacy to the eviction plans, residents vehemently contest the idea that they’re “consigned to poor, insanitary and potentially dangerous living conditions” (a phrase used in the council’s report). In fact, a number of residents claim conditions are far better than in normal rented accommodation.

“This is the private rental market,” says Bram, who lives in a colossal flat with 13 others in Cara House, a converted high rise office block. “We’re not forced to live anywhere, if we didn’t feel safe we wouldn’t be renting this place.” With an unlikely job in risk management – the majority of tenants are in the creative industries – Bram feels well-placed to give his stamp of approval. “We wish the council would just come and visit the units, instead of speculating on their condition,” his housemate, Daniel Raspedzihowski, chimes in, adding that the communal character of the units, and not having to cough up a deposit equivalent to three months’ rent, make it far more attractive than living in a bedsit with strangers.

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Indeed, many of the units – often adapted by long-term tenants interested in furniture repair, interiors, or working in professions like carpentry or fine art – are stunning: double height ceilings, mezzanines, huge open plan living spaces decorated with paintings and installations, reclaimed furniture, soft lighting, panoramic picture windows and oddities including fully-stocked bars or grand 20-seater dining tables. Hardly the Dickensian squalor the council’s seven-page report would lead you to believe.

Rolling contracts and ‘removed’ landlord control of the warehouses (the majority of landlords delegate property management to live-in property managers who began as tenants) mean many of the residents “are house proud in a way you don’t normally get in typical rented accommodation,” claims art teacher Miriam Baez. “Because we can decorate how we like and know we’re not going to be turfed out at the end of the year each year it’s in our interest to keep it looking nice.”

Upstairs - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

But such salubrious conditions aren’t universal, and it’s clear that some unscrupulous landlords see the properties as cash cows, leaving conditions in the hands of the tenants, at the expense of outside-facing windows and in breach of fire safety regulations. Some residents welcome inspections as a way of driving up standards.

“The council needs to wake up to the fact people need to continue living here, and regulate the landlords so all the properties are safe for people to live in. Evicting people is not the answer,” says music therapist and composer Roddy Skeaping, 67, a tenant at a spacious unit on Eade Road.

Despite the council declaring that properties will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and “there are no plans to go in and evict everyone”, around the estates nobody really knows what’s going on. It’s made all the more confusing by the fact that planning officers were actually working with one of the major landlords to ensure building and safety rules were being observed in a “regularisation” process, seen as a retrospective green light. But discussions “with the council as a whole on the wider issues stopped abruptly three months ago”, says one leaseholder. “We’re keen to get them going again”.

lit - 640 - Ceasefire Magazine

At a council meeting on 16 January, however, the option of granting residential permission to further units was ruled out. Although the planning department’s report admitted there was a risk of “mass homelessness” as a result of evictions, there was no mention of the extra strain this would place on the local renting market.

We tried to speak with one of the councillors to raise residents’ concerns but none were available. Instead the council issued a statement saying it recognised “the contribution that these residents … make to the borough, but the council would be failing in its duty if it was to turn a blind eye to the very real dangers that these tenants are facing.”

The authorities in Haringey are right to want to improve housing conditions, and promoting secure jobs with prospects is hugely important in a deprived area like Tottenham, the epicentre of the riots that convulsed the country in 2011. But this heavy-handed approach isn’t just misplaced paternalism; it could backfire on both counts.

A petition launched in response two weeks ago calling on the UK government’s Department for Communities and Local Government to prevent the closure of the warehouses and ‘protect the homes of hundreds of honest and hardworking people’ has already gathered 1,700 signatures.

[Photo credits: Ksenia Burnasheva (Warehouse photos); Tabby Kinder and Michael Pooler (photos of residents)]

inHOUSE promo from inHOUSE Film Festival on Vimeo.

Tabby Kinder is a freelance investigative journalist whose work has appeared in The Sunday Times and The Independent on Sunday. Follow her on Twitter @tabbykinder

Michael Pooler is a freelance news journalist currently living in London, from Manchester. His published work has featured in The Independent and Private Eye.

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Eli Block
Mar 5, 2014 2:06

Great article! I thought id mention, we moved into our property on overbury road 2 years ago and as we were renovating the space the council would routinely come round to see what was happening, within the first year they came and told us what the fire hazards were and between ourselves and our landlord these were dealt with to the council’s satisfaction. Putting in windows and extractions fans for example.There’s no reason they can’t just do this for all the properties they think are at risk so long as the landlords comply accordingly. Evicting people indiscriminately will only create bigger problems. Thanks for all the work you put into this.

dom lenoir
Mar 5, 2014 2:31

This is a disgusting lack of appreciation for a hugely important and well recognised area of creative flourish in London

Amy
Mar 5, 2014 3:25

Great article but just thought I’d mention that the fire you’re talking about happened on Fountayne Road, not Hermitage Road. Unless there were two fires and I’m unaware of the second one.

Merryn
Mar 5, 2014 4:23

There was a fire on Hermatige last year.. A guy in one of the flats had a brilliant idea to light a disposable BBQ on the roof of our neighbours warehouse as it backed onto his window.

kurt
Mar 5, 2014 9:48

Miriam Baez. says “Because we can decorate how we like and know we’re not going to be turfed out at the end of the year each year.

You are mistaken Miriam. The rents increase by far more than average. Mine was instantly DOUBLED by the landlord . You can fight the council all you like but most people will be priced out within a couple of years. Shulem Aksler is a fraudulent, unscrupulous landlord who will extortionately raise rents because of improvements you have made, illegally use your name on planning applications and refuse to give you a copy of your tenancy agreement. He will do anything to increase profits, including screwing every single one of you over: The same obliging tenants that are now rallying to his rescue. He will not thank you. It is a far better strategy to pressure the council to force acquisition the warehouses so that you pay rent to them instead. It might buy you an extra decade.

Saoirse ryan
Mar 5, 2014 11:29

Stop trying to kill creativity in London!

anon
Mar 5, 2014 11:56

As someone who’s lived in the warehouse cluster for a few years now, I’m on the fence here.

On the one hand I’d want to encourage the council to take a wider view and consider the near- and mid- term potential for encouraging this sort of mixed use live/work environment. I’ve actually met and contacted Local Counsellors to this effect (I like to think I’m a responsible, representative member of society, after all)…

…on the other hand, I’m familiar with the accusations that Kurt, above, has made — Shulem very much has his own long-term agenda here, and the rights of the boots on the ground, so to speak, are absolutely not his concern.

I actually can’t help but feel that some of the Council’s plans here might play right into his hands. The last thing I imagine he wants is for the temporary wedge he’s created in the form of a servile, dynamic population of rent payers to become an entrenched block to his actual long-term intent, no matter how much rent he squeezes out of the increasing amount of bright young things spilling over from the Kingsland artery in the short term.

Where I’m concerned, I’m simply saddened that I’ll have to move my small business to Hackney or somesuch place over the next couple of years because the council don’t appear to appreciate what potential they have sitting right in front of them. I’m saddened that they don’t appear to appreciate the taxes we pay, the local businesses we support and — if I may be so blunt — the fact that very few tenants (any?) in this environemnt present a financial drain on their no-doubt strained coffers.

Oh well, it was [productive] fun while it lasted.

Patrick
Mar 5, 2014 12:58

anon,

taxes you pay? what,like council tax?

Sorry but this is a farce- not only are the landlords risking people’s lives, but also the tenants (creative or not) aren’t paying what we normal tenants would have to.

Unless of course you are all registered and this is just a huge misunderstanding?

Thought not.

alejandra bano
Mar 5, 2014 13:42

this way of living is necesary for artist, we need big spaces and be around art….

Jon couch
Mar 5, 2014 13:45

I think the council are under the assumption that if they evict us, we’ll stay in Tottenham….

Hahaha

Evict us and watch the area go back a decade as vibrancy and diversity perform a mass exodus.

Sophie
Mar 5, 2014 14:08

All properties are paying council tax or business rates, to my knowledge, so no property tax avoidance here. As the article mentions, the warehouses have been adapting to meet H&S regulations (there are different regulations for residential and live/work, so some of them have had to make adjustments). Saying that landlords are risking people’s lives is quite simply untrue – these places are not dangerous and are pretty well constructed. If they’re so deadly, why have there been no major accidents?

Alex
Mar 5, 2014 14:25

An article that needed to be written! Echoes the sentiments of many who live in the area. Although things can always be improved the general living standard of the warehouses is far better than many conventional private rental properties I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of being a tennant in.
I find it sad that the council can’t think more progressively about the lack of affordable live/workspace in London and see the warehouse developments as a possible solution rather than a problem. They could work with landlords and tennants to improve things for everyone rather than marginalise everyone living there.
I cant help thinking that there is some ulterior motive here as they can’t seriouisly believe that the buisenesses that moved away some 15 years ago will move back to what is an unaffordable and impractical area for them. Many of those industries such as texiles and engineering unfortunately are no longer UK based on a larger scale. More likely the council have grand plans of “luxury” apartement complexes and shopping malls, often when regeneration is talked about this is what is actually meant.

Anon
Mar 5, 2014 14:40

“Thought not”.

Well, your opinion as unfounded as it is in fact, fairly clearly illustrates that the rationale behind a lot of the discontent with the communities has less to do with genuine aggrievance, rather ignorance and some simplistic aesthetic repulsion.

Please check with your local representatives and see that we do indeed pay council taxes, that we pay private services to take our rubbish & recycling away, that the warehouse community costs you no money whatsoever.

In my time here I’ve seen more self-led involvement in the greater community coming out of the warehouse community than that which the greater community invests in itself (without, of course, some overriding local government incentive or scheme). A shame you choose not to see this.

A shame you don’t recognise that having a load of working people, many of them young and socially-engaged, is a solid underpinning to any community. A shame you appear utterly blind to the obvious local financial benefit that 1500 working people bring to a community.

I’d argue that we’re probably more value to the greater community here than curtain-twitching NIMBYists.

Whatever, let the place die — your house price may go up a little, your soul will probably continue its slump into devalued stock.

Dan
Mar 5, 2014 14:58

@ Patrick

I would not jump to conclusions about what people pay and do not pay. I live on Fountayne Road in one of these warehouses, and I can assure you I pay well over £2000 a year in council tax.

If you would read the article you would notice the quote “a lot of commercial businesses won’t be able to afford the high business rates in the area and the council probably receive a lot more now in council tax than they would otherwise.” We may be accused of many things, but tax dodging low-lives is not one of them.

We are all registered – and the hypocrisy of Harrinagy council stance is evident as they were well aware of our existence when they granted temporary planning permission for residential use in 2004.

Thought not? Think again.

anon
Mar 5, 2014 15:27

I think it is great to have creative affordable spaces like this in London, although perhaps not so affordable anymore. The community and jobs that are created in areas like these are second to none. The council should be supporting young artists, entrepreneurs and local businesses not making their lives harder.

However as beautiful as the warehouses and spaces are inside the outside areas are not. There seems to be more and more rubbish on the streets and outside the buildings and it makes the area look dilapidated. This is something the residents should strive to change it will help gain support from those local to the area and give the council less ammunition for their eviction proposal.

the other Anon
Mar 5, 2014 15:40

For the record, anon — I wholly, utterly and totally agree.

Time for a hearty spring clean!

burnee
Mar 5, 2014 16:10

Good luck to all you tenants, especially my grandson,

Extra, Extra | Londonist
Mar 5, 2014 17:40

[…] Haringey Council to evict 1,500 people from warehouse spaces. […]

tom
Mar 5, 2014 18:48

I’m not so sure that “Haringey council seeks to return the buildings to their original commercial use”. As I understand it (someone please correct me if I’m missing something) the sites have been earmarked primarily for future residential development. More info at the links below. Pages 122-129 of the first document deal with the areas in question:

SiteAllocationsAppendix.pdf

http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/update-huge-swathes-of-harringay-to-be-developed

Glen
Mar 5, 2014 19:10

Surely, some of these units might benefit from the 4-year rule on immunity from planning enforcement?

“four years for the change of use of a building, or part of a building, to use as a single dwelling house. Enforcement action can no longer be taken once the unauthorised use has continued for four years without any enforcement action being taken”

– Town and Country Planning Act 1990: Section 191 as amended by section 10 of the Planning and Compensation Act 1991. Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995

Gusta
Mar 5, 2014 21:00

Good luck to all you tenants, especially my daughter. Really hope this is not happening.

pappanutsack
Mar 5, 2014 23:56

We must move in as many ethnic Russians as possible ASAP. Putin will not hesitate to crush the oppressors of his people and it will be but a mater of time before council buildings are surrounded by un-badged, heavily armed special forces and light armoured vehicles sporting Russian license plates.

On a serious note, VOTE LABOUR OUT OF OFFICE IN THE COMING ELECTION, the blood for oil party deserves no less. The Liberal Democrats have our back and believe it or not, the Conservatives are our natural allies.

Fight the power.

Waytoomany
Mar 6, 2014 0:35

I live on fountayne road…And I pay much more rent than of my friends do on the surrounding legal roads in Tottenham. I used to squat the building I am now living in. The reason these warehouses have become residential areas for creatives is because all the industry is failing round here. There are a couple of thousand creative types bringing good money to this shit hole. If we all get kicked out at once…You don’t know how much of a pandoras box you will open. All the building will be occupied within hours by squatters…And months if not years of paper work and court hearings. Sign your own death warrant Haringey. I fucking dare you!

BW
Mar 6, 2014 0:42

I lived in Fountayne Road 10 years ago. Wonderful place, double storey, perfect studio environment – I loved being part of the road, and still have friends there. We were studying architecture and having a big studio was fantastic (even with leaks + the mice + the cold in winter that came with living in a barely converted place). Ours was one of the first converted from a textile factory, and they had been made into generous units with a good kitchen + bathroom and opening double doors. It wasn’t cheaper than a normal house, but gave us the right environment for our work (big drawings and models).

I noticed that some of the later converted units have been getting smaller, less well ventilated, and less consideration of fire/health + safety etc (shared showers between lots of units, no WC in your own unit, no ventilation to some rooms), presumably landlords using up less accessible parts of buildings, and/or trying to get more tenants in.

I work in architecture so am aware of the criteria councils are looking at when assessing the legality/viability of these type of units. They do have a choice as to how to respond, though. Recent changes in planning permission allow offices (B1a) to be converted into housing (we have a national housing shortage), so you’d have thought it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for them to consider something like this here, or a live/work designation. They could simply ask for basic standards to be applied (e.g. amenities + fire safety etc), and change the use class if necessary.

I had thought Haringey were more long-sighted than to evict from these warehouses; there might be better ways of ensuring fire compliance etc. without losing what is, and could continue to be, a thriving area of self-employment, and a valuable asset to the borough in terms of demographic. The units are not cheap, but having industrial-style spaces is ideal for people working from home, in creative industries, or even just out of choice. We don’t all want standard double bedrooms in new-build 2-bedroom apartments.

Who knows what businesses, clothing labels, agencies, designers, consultants, artists, lecturers, tutors, design studios are being germinated in these kind of spaces? We are in a time where micro-businesses and self employment needs to be given space to thrive. Let them be.

Andy
Mar 6, 2014 2:22

I used to live on Overbury & can say without doubt it was one of the most life changing experiences of my life both professionally & personally.

It really annoys me how some people judge so quickly on the types of lifestyle people live in this area & how ignorant some of these comments are. Everybody I met in this area was cool, pleasant & actively working in the community to keep it nice, if these places wasn’t here, what would be? A Tesco? Yeah, inspiring!

The “forceful” nature of this issue is nothing more than the Thatcher regime back in full effect.

Why not let people live freely however they want to? Council tax is still paid and most of the tenants look after the ares themselves so unless the issue is financial – I don’t get what the issue is.

Bow tie bullies – nothing more.

idunno
Mar 6, 2014 5:38

They should be ashamed of themselves. They’re not really poor, and they drove the last truely hardworking people out of a real industry by driving up rents with there wanky art shit.

i bet you none of these cunts have ever set foot inside a job centre. They’re not really poor.

How can you be a fucking web designer and be poor?

Tord
Mar 6, 2014 11:49

Blimey!

Remember what happened the last time it all ‘kicked off’ in Tottenham.

Chain up your wheely bins y’all!

Alison
Mar 6, 2014 12:00

Has anyone ever lived in a council owned property round here? I have. It was disgusting. Black mould peeking through under peeling paint that looked so old it surely was lead-ridden, mice everywhere and what looked like horrifically dangerous wiring. Complaint on complaint to the council and nothing but bureacratic paper pushers with low standards. They say their tiny little depressing spaces, crawling with decades of slime, unfit for human dwelling, are legal while these beautiful spaces with giant kitchens, baths, showers and space to breathe and live are illegal? Are they mental? They’re the ones who pack people into tiny spaces like sardines. I moved quickly from my council owned accomodation into a lovely warehouse and I for one am not leaving without a massive fight. We pay our council tax!

Hackney Wick
Mar 6, 2014 13:15

The creative community of Hackney Wick offer solidarity to the community in Tottenham.
We know that we are next on the chopping block and are happy to help you OCCUPY your buildings if Direct Action is a route you wish to pursue.
We should build the connections between the communities across London and stand up against the rot and corruption within the Council that threaten our flourishing and free communities.
There are literally 1000s of us.

Steve
Mar 6, 2014 13:37

Hang on a minute! I quote: “The plans to evict the two sprawling former industrial estates in South Tottenham (and the £600,000 of taxpayer’s money earmarked to carry them out)”

Surely the council could look into spending that £600,000 on updating the properties and making them safe? Surely that would be better than evicting 100 or so creative people and letting the properties fall into disuse and become a blight on the neighbourhood?

Dan the Doughnut Man
Mar 6, 2014 14:02

@ Patrick:

On what grounds do you base your claims of “landlords risking people’s lives” and “the tenants (creative or not) aren’t paying what we normal tenants would have to”? You’re certainly not basing these claims on facts. How about you actually spend some time and effort in researching into the topic. You’ll realise that most (if not all) of these warehouses conform to strict regulations AS LAID OUT BY THE COUNCIL, and that most (if not all) of the tenants pay the appropriate amount of council tax AS CALCULATED AND BILLED BY THE COUNCIL. Moreover, some also pay business rates.

You’re either basing your claims on incorrect information or you’re ignorant of the information and simply enacting your prejudices (i.e. plucking these claims out of your head with no supporting evidence). Either way, your comments can be disregarded for those reasons. You have no idea, yet you speak like you’re the Oracle. It would be best for everyone if you remove yourself voluntarily from this debate.

Tom Belton
Mar 6, 2014 14:31

Terrible / ridiculous / can’t be allowed to happen, but that old geezer in the middle with a MASSIVE bag of weed probably isn’t doing the cause any good..

Lewis MacLean
Mar 6, 2014 15:58

Typical Tory mentality, stiffle creatives in attempt to censor those who thinkg for themselves and widen the workign class barrier to create uneven wealth distribution, *yawn* its not 1920 get a new Policy you retro-post WW2 Fordist c**ts. Anyone with a ahred of free thought should protest this blighted mentality.

Adam M
Mar 6, 2014 16:05

These dire warnings at the end of the article about unemployment in Haringey – and the riots – seems a little misplaced. The music therapists and web designers who live in the warehouse district have nothing whatsoever to do with the rioters last year. If they lose their homes, their jobs aren’t going to disappear, they work from home, they’ll move somewhere cheaper and carry on with whatever they’re doing. They don’t affect the really deprived people in Haringey in one way or another… just a small, fairly self contained community of self-employed people with few ties to the area.

Anon
Mar 6, 2014 16:26

@Lewis MacLean Haringey council has 34 seats going to labour, 23 to lib dems, and 0 to conservatives.

tom
Mar 6, 2014 21:35

The more I look into it, the less credible this story appears to be. There’s no evidence that mass evictions are part of the council’s plans (although I have heard that landlords are using “council demands” as an excuse for evictions). What is true is that the council has earmarked these warehouse sites for possible mixed use development, and that the deadline for responding to the councils development plan is tomorrow, so anyone who cares should get on it – read the document and voice their opinions at this link: http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/housing_and_planning/planning-mainpage/policy_and_projects/local_development_framework/site-allocations-dpd.htm

Resister
Mar 6, 2014 21:50

I would like to offer all residents of these places to contact me to discuss eviction resistance, squatting and the building of barricades. If it is 1500 people, thats a huge job to forcibly evict, and I can tell you from experience it is much easier than you would think …

Reggie The Veggie
Mar 7, 2014 17:53

Creative community, what a joke. 80% of the people who live on Overbury Road and Fountayne Road are pillhead ketamin waster fuckheads who own a beat up classical guitar and can just about play a half-arsed version of Stairway to Heaven, badly.

Anon
Mar 7, 2014 22:18

I lived in one of these units on Fountayne Road a few years back…it was awesome, so much space wit double height ceilings and tonnes of light from a huge rolling shutter. It was very hard moving out and having to pay the same amount to live in what felt like a small box compared to the warehouse unit!

However, the landlord who owns these units around Tottenham and Finsbury Park is a complete scoundrel. The rents were due to rise by a huge amount after our first year…after we had installed a kitchen and bathroom and generally done a lot of improving work on the place. The unit was also not converted properly for residential (of course, as it wasn’t), and had no insulation in the ceiling which was effectively corrugated iron. I have never been so cold in my life during the winter in that place – we had to buy a huge gas-fired space heater to blast warmth in, but got through at least 3 x £60 bottles a week due to the sheer size of the place. Then the electricity was cut off for 2 months which was a nightmare which we never saw compensation for. And a brothel operated in the unit beneath ours, meaning random men were queuing outside our courtyard constantly (and once, inside our actually unit). Brothel was replaced by a weed factory who rewired the electricity meter for the whole block so the block paid to power their equipment.

TBH I agree with Reggie The Veggie, “creative” was a very tenuous way of summing up the majority of people living in Fountayne Road. Eventually high rents and boredom of getting stoned and having to talk to people who thought they were much cleverer and artistically inspired than they actually caused me to drift on… But actually I think that it would be a real shame for these areas to become ovverun with yuppies as Shoreditch / Dalston / Brixton have, we need vibrance and diversity in London and that sometimes means taking a line that supports people who are not at the top of the food chain

Jeremy
Mar 9, 2014 11:35

There’s an interesting discussion about these warehouses with both local residents and warehouse communities contributing on the local news/community website Harringay Online – http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/haringey-s-warehouse-districts-under-threat

91. Fly away Peter, fly away Paul. Come back Peter… | The Jelly Chronicles
Mar 9, 2014 21:18

[…] Last month, Haringey Council announced plans to evict the residents.  The ins and outs of it are in an article here. […]

Killing the Goose | Creative Ideas for Starving Artists
Mar 10, 2014 10:59

leon
Mar 14, 2014 1:13

Lived there for 5 years……superb. The landlords really didn’t give a crap though. It was all a bit weird with their attitude towards normal landlord responsibilities../like fire procedure and water quality!

leon
Mar 14, 2014 1:20

Forgot to mention the lack of pest control, mice everywhere. The lack of general maintenance, the lack of give a sh*t from the landlords. They basically let you live there until you have done it up proper with mezzanines and tv aerials and things that cost money to install then they jack the rent up because the contact is so ambiguous. Shady fuckers. I loved the vibe but in the end they win.
Mafia.

Matt Hetherington
Mar 17, 2014 0:45

Ever heard of a place called Moranbah. the rent was $8 a week. the mine owners sold the houses to the “Unionists” who immediatly become “Capitolists” and rents went through the roof. So the mine owners went for FIFO workers. and the town is now crying fowl. Lesson. Every action has a re action.
If landlords dont look after the saftey and cleanleynes of the place , council will shut it down.Everyone will move out. Greed will flourish and no one will move back into the over rated expenseive villas and a slum of looters and squatters will destroy a once vibrant wonderful place.

Evicting my friends | smithersinseoul
Mar 20, 2014 0:47

Dead space in a crowded city — Turning London’s empty warehouses into creative communities | theartblog
Apr 26, 2014 20:32

[…] landlords are drawing attention to a situation where they are not operating strictly legally.” As this recent article shows, that can lead to sudden mass […]

Warehouse Community Meeting | I'm Leaving The Office Now
May 1, 2014 12:12

[…] night a group of residents from the Warehouse community got together to discuss the looming threat of eviction. Harringay council have begun to investigate the community, our way of living and whether they deem […]

Diana Trimble
May 24, 2014 0:43

Reminds me of how much I hate London and actually the UK in general – and why. Despite parading Britain’s cultural and artistic achievements at the 2012 Olympics spectacle (due to “we used to enslave most of the world!” not being that jolly of a pride-theme), the reality of life in Britain is that there is precious little societal support or respect for creative communities that aren’t connected to advertising or other forms of crass commercialism. To be an artist or a musician in GB usually means embracing poverty or spending most of your time doing a job you hate in order to be able to live somewhere that you can do your thing on your off days. I used to live in Haringey and let me tell you, it is a vile, ugly, and uninspiring borough. That a few hundred determined souls have managed to establish a creative community there in some disused and unloved real estate is nothing short of a miracle and should be applauded, celebrated and recognized as a positive action of regeneration. Some deluded fools may believe that all a city need is high-rolling bankers and worker slaves to serve them but the truth is that creatives are what gives a city its culture, its vibrancy, its flavour, its vibe. Yet contemporary London is completely inhospitable to artists (and other living things) because it has no regard for values other than monetary ones. Yet it is a well known fact that creative hotbeds NEVER emerge out of high rent districts. Creatives need their time to be their own, in order to develop their work, so they need a low overhead for many years. I include entrepreneurs in this category, and like artists, they need space, lots of it and not costing a fortune, so as to manifest their ideas. It is depressingly typical of the mentality of British government that upon discovering this ray of sunshine in one of the grimmest areas of any city in the world, efforts are quickly put into motion to dismantle it and rip these industrious residents from the homes they have so cleverly invented. Why not fix the buildings and make them more habitable, put in fire exits and change the zoning to residential? Why isn’t the reaction from the council “oh, great idea! let’s help these people out, this is good for the area…” I am sickened by this story and selfishly just very very glad I left London years ago, after narrowly surviving the suicidal depression triggered by trying to survive there. Good luck people…

Buster
Jun 29, 2014 12:17

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Colin Lunt
Jul 3, 2014 11:36

The photographs of the interiors appear to show a reasonable or good standard of conversion. In addition at least some of the properties have been seen or amended in consultation with Council requirements.

One issue that does not appear to have been mentioned is the nature of the contractual arrangement with the landlord owner and the residents. Furthermore it would seem that the Council would have to issue either a Prohibition Order under the 2004 Housing Act or an alternative action under Planning or Compulsory Purchase Order. The article does not specify what type of action the Council propose to use to evict the 1500 people. From what I have read the Council does not have the right.to evict,

If they issue a 2004 Housing Act notice then either the landlord or the residents can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal; any other form of eviction may be subject to perhaps a Judicial Review claim or a Planning Enquiry. If the Council has knowingly been collecting Council Tax on the building it may well have compromised itself and be precluded from enforcing. In the alternative the occupiers may have grounds to make a complaint of maladministration to the Local Government Ombudsman.

However, this form of accommodation and the type of arrangement with the landlord does give rise to concern if the arrangement between them is one that seeks to avoid the provisions of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 if it claims that the occupiers are not tenants.and that they can be evicted by the landlord as mere licensees rather than shorthold or assured tenants. The protection from eviction provisions were hard won right to protect tenants. The fact that this type of accommodation may be cheaper than usual tenancies should not encourage occupiers to purportedly forgo their rights

There are a number of “Property Guardian” companies who let properties, charge the occupiers to live there. The guardian company makes a profit from the owners because they are providing security and at the same time profit from the occupiers but claim that they can evict occupiers on two weeks notice. This must be an attempt to avoid tenants legal rights.

Dead space in a crowded city — Turning London’s empty warehouses into creative communities | katie mccallum
Aug 21, 2014 0:07

[…] landlords are drawing attention to a situation where they are not operating strictly legally.” As this recent article shows, that can lead to sudden mass […]

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