Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'House of Hell' Brings Terror to Neighbours

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'House of Hell' Brings Terror to Neighbours

Article excerpt


CARSON ROAD is a leafy suburban street of elegant 1880s-built Victorian houses, worth around [pound]800,000 each. In their midst is number 50, owned by the council - the House from Hell.

Since the mid- Nineties, tenants have included habitual criminals, mental patients and drug addicts. The building has been vandalised by tenants and squatters, and the rubbish-filled garden is regularly used by junkies.

Neighbours Trudi Ross and Peter Faulkner made their first of many official complaints in April 1997. They say their complaints were never acted upon - not even when one tenant was jailed and another was arrested and charged with rape, only to be released when the alleged victim killed herself.

In May 1998, the neighbours were shocked to discover that an illegal sub- enant was a Lambeth council employee.

Lambeth's Corporate Anti-Fraud Team recommended disciplinary action against him and repossession of the flat - but neither happened.

In September 1998, a tenant was released from prison and, within weeks, 11 separate incidents of serious nuisance were recorded by the neighbours - including: noisy postmidnight visitors and car horns hooting; bottle throwing; and people climbing up drainpipes, both front and rear, to gain access. No action was taken by the council to control the tenants.

The following year things got steadily worse. The windows of number 50 were regularly being smashed and the neighbours were terrified. At the end of 1999, Lambeth finally began eviction proceedings, but the worst tenant was only removed in May 2000.

The local residents were then assured that the house would be secured and sold at auction.

They heaved a sigh of relief, but it was short lived. Within days the council's housing director, John Broomfield, ordered that no more Lambeth properties were to be sold.

The council apologised to the neighbours for the past mismanagement and the local Housing Manager was still telling them that the house should be sold, as he could not afford the refurbishment.

Nevertheless, the housing department obtained estimates for the cost of refurbishing the building. …

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