BY TOBY PORTER
A coffee shop owner has been told he will be booted out by his landlords after 12 years – and says he has not been given a reason why.
Kaz Odutayo was locked out of his outlet at Streatham railway station on August 14 while abroad on business. It was locked up for a month, leaving staff unable to work, because Kaz was in Nigeria suffering from malaria.
But he managed to obtain a court order stopping the landlord Southern Railway from keeping him out of the premises.
Now Southern Rail has told him there are other firms which would pay more in rent – and he fears a big coffee chain will be installed if he cannot cling on.
He said: “A massive Marks and Spencer has opened next door so Southern Railway are trying to make the most of the extra business.
“But I have been here for 12 years. Basically, it looks like they do not want to renew the lease. But there is something called due process.
“When I demanded to know why they tried to get me out, they could not give me one solid reason.
“When they said they were going to lock my shop up, I was abroad – my accountant tried to reason with the people who came to lock it up, but they said he had to talk to the letting agents.
“They have been pretty incompetent over the years handling any issues I had.
“Go via Thameslink Railway, which owns Southern Railway , claimed I sublet part of my shop, which is untrue. But I was granted a court order which prevented them from stopping me from trading. They even breached that order, because instead of giving me keys the day I got the order, September 26, they waited five working days, until September 30.
“They also dumped four big rubbish bins in my shop front and left them there for a week – which has never happened here before. I was unable to serve some of my items as a result.”
Kas, the founder of the Streatham business forum – now called Streatham Bid – has five staff who face losing their jobs if he is closed down.
“This business is meant to be my retirement project but they are trying to take it off me,” he said.
“I have spent a lot of money here because of the service starting from Clapham Junction.
“It is bullying and harassment. They are trying to run a local businessman out and replace me with a multinational.
“I do not want to be another victim of gentrification.”
A Southern Railway spokesman said: “Unfortunately there is nothing we can say pending legal proceedings but Mr Odutayo is able to trade in the meantime.”