BY OWEN SHEPPARD
Local Democracy Reporter
Residents of two condemned Fulham tower blocks face early evictions as the local authority bids to clear it for demolition.
Several tenants faced possession orders in court last week, as Hammersmith and Fulham council continues to empty Hartopp Point and Lannoy Point.
The 1960s concrete towers, on the Aintree Estate, will be pulled down by December 2020 due to long-standing fire safety issues, and problems with mould and water leaks.
But the council has sought to quickly make the 14-storey blocks vacant since it confirmed the demolition plans in April.
One of the families learning their fate at Wandsworth County Court, the Mustakeems, protested that they had not been offered a decent alternative home.
Roshan Mustakeem, 61, who lives with her husband Inayatullah, 63, and daughter Farah, heard the council’s lawyer ask the district judge for powers to evict them from Hartopp Point — where they have lived for 18 years — from a time of the council’s choosing, and with 14 days’ notice.
Farah, 23, told the court her family rejected a replacement flat offered to them in Sands End, because its bathroom and toilet were too small for her mother, who uses a walking stick.
Farah, a law graduate and charity worker, told the court: “My mother is disabled, recently had a full knee replacement, and is due another one. Moving is really difficult for her.
“We visited the flat and it was not nice. There was dog foul on the estate and there was graffiti in the bedrooms. Our furniture will not even fit in this flat.
“We do not want to live in a place that is not safe. “Our needs should be taken into consideration.”
She said the council should not be able to evict them until the Sands End property is “renovated” or another suitable flat is found.
Despite appearing to sympathise with the family, the judge granted the 14-day possession order to the council, telling the family they had legitimate concerns, but that there were “statutory protections in place” for the family, should the council apply the 14-day order without renovating the Sands End property or finding a decent home.
“If you’re not happy and you’re offered something you don’t want, you can apply to have the order suspended,” said the judge, adding: “You must not lose sight of the bigger picture. Yours is a property that is to come down.”
The Mustakeem family were one of eight households from Hartopp and Lannoy who faced possession orders in court last week. All the orders were granted by the judge, with 14 more cases due to be heard later this month. The majority of the 122 flats in total are already vacant.
A spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham council said: “Structural surveys show these properties are unsafe, so we are working with residents and doing all we can to get them rehomed as quickly as possible, according to their needs.
“We know moving house can be stressful, but finding suitable alternative accommodation should not be a worry here – the council cannot, and will not, enforce a possession order until suitable accommodation has been provided.”