A major housing association has been convicted by a court of failing to support a tenant who was left homeless after a racist campaign by neighbors.
London & Quadrant (L&Q), which has a capacity of 250,000 in London and the South East, ignored a code of practice on protecting tenants from racial harassment and was guilty of defensive and insensitive attitude, according to a county court ruling issued last week.
Lara Tate (not her real name), a young black woman living alone, was forced to flee her London apartment in 2015 after nine months of racist abuse by a neighboring family that culminated in death threats. The couple were convicted of public order offenses and racially aggravated harassment, but L&Q did not evict them or relocate Tate, who felt too unsafe to return to the property, a converted home where she and the neighbors were the sole occupants.
Tate, who has continued to pay rent for the apartment, has since been threatened with possession proceedings by L&Q for failing to occupy it. He has spent the past five years staying with friends and family and sued L&Q for negligence after discovering that the same neighbors had removed a previous black tenant from the apartment.
She has been awarded £ 31,000 in damages after a judge found she had been misled by assurances that there was no record of antisocial behavior on the property.
“L&Q has ignored the criminal convictions and the police reports and the fact that I was evicted from my home,” Tate said. “They insist that I stay in this abusive environment and bid on one of their other properties for up to two years.” The harassment began the day after she moved into their apartment in 2014. “The couple and their three children shouted: ‘Who let the monkeys out!’ They closed the communal door with all the force they could, openly doing racism and derogatory. comments and knocking on my door and accusing me of things, ”he said.
When she complained of disturbing noises, the couple banged on her door and yelled death threats in a 15-minute tirade taped by Tate.
The county court ruling found that by not relocating Tate, L&Q had “focused on the interests” of neighbors with three young children.
“I had to quit my job when a friend who allowed me to stay with her in London sold her house and I had to move in with my mother in Nottingham,” she said. “The stress has affected my mental health to the point that I cannot look for more work.”
the Observer She has been contacted by another young black L&Q tenant who has spent two years in a women’s shelter with her six-year-old son because L&Q was unable to relocate her, despite fears that her abusive ex-partner had located her. The woman, who fled domestic violence in 2014, is now being threatened with eviction for paying rent.
“L&Q offered to install a panic alarm, but I still wouldn’t feel safe,” she said. “They keep asking for proof that I’m at risk, but what proof am I supposed to have?”
L&Q told the Observer which has a zero tolerance policy against discrimination and domestic abuse, and relocates tenants in serious cases. “Our goal is always to ensure that our residents feel safe in their own home, and we will support them throughout the process to achieve this,” said a spokesperson. “If there is a safeguard issue or threat to life, we work with partners, including local authorities, support agencies, and police to assess any risks and take appropriate steps to ensure your safety, including enabling relocation. in severe cases “.
Last month, the government published a white paper, which aims to make social housing owners more responsible. The Charter for Social Housing Residents, prepared after the Grenfell Tower fire, recognizes that tenant concerns are too often ignored and sets the standards of service required of landlords, including the antisocial behavior policy.
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