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ALLEGATIONS: Tenant faces eviction from home he has lived in for 66 years

ALLEGATIONS: Tenant faces eviction from home he has lived in for 66 years

May, 65 of Wardley Gateshead, who faces eviction from the home he has been in since he was a baby, Image: LDRS

A Gateshead man faces eviction from his home of more than 60 years after a county court judge heard allegations of mess and ‘dangerous’ items on the property.

Ken May faced Gateshead Council in County Court on Wednesday, the culmination of a months-long dispute over the state of his dwelling.

The 67-year-old, who moved in to the address in Standfield Gardens, Wardley, in 1955, claimed that he made improvements to the property, but that limited access to electricity and no gas had slowed down his progress.

Ken May

Ken May, 65 of Wardley Gateshead, who faces eviction from the home he has been in since he was a baby. Picture from 1962, Ken is at bottom left, Image: LDRS

He said: “I have complied to the best of my ability with the promises I gave to this court.

“I have reduced to zero my arrears, I have cleared up the house – I have de-cluttered it.

“I have photographic evidence of some of the things I have thrown away that have been collected by the council.

“I have little access to electricity, I have no access to hot water. My ability to clean the house is limited because of that.

“I have complied with my promise to tidy the garden up – I have trimmed the hedges.

“I have trimmed the hedge down even though it belongs to the other neighbour – I did that with the agreement of my neighbour.

“When I have been asked to facilitate safety inspections I have complied.”

The court heard that Mr May, who doesn’t have access to mains electricity or gas, has been powering his home using car batteries charged up with a petrol generator.

He also argued that the authority was breaching human rights legislation by enforcing the eviction.

During the cross examination solicitor Shada Mellor, representing Gateshead Council, said that Mr May’s electricity had been disconnected after the supplier found out he was by-passing the meter.

She also stated that the former merchant seaman hadn’t always let staff in to inspect his home.

She said: “You refer to making promises to the court; that was at the hearing February 3, 2020.

“That was over a year and a half ago. Any of these improvements should have been improved and finished by now.

“You have had a significant period of time to get things back in order. The conditions of the property’s tenancy agreement requires you to keep it neat and tidy and dispose of your rubbish properly.

“They sent you a letter on August 12 asking if they could look at the property, you declined.

“There is a condition in the tenancy agreement is to not do anything that could cause damage.

“The reason you don’t have any electricity or power at the property is because you haven’t paid any charges – you have by-passed your electricity meter.

“Your property is in no better condition than it was a year and a half ago.

“You have got items in your property that are dangerous to yourself and others.”

Mr May told the judge that he didn’t feel comfortable letting people into his home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The court also heard from a neighbourhood relations officer employed by the authority.

She said that there had  been improvements to the kitchen and living room, but no significant changes over all.

The housing worker also said that using a petrol generator to charge car batteries was dangerous and that “dangerous materials” stored in the house were a “health risk”.

She said: “The house could go up into flames, there could be an explosion because of the fuel you’re storing.”

District Judge Charnock-Neal made the possesion order, saying that it wasn’t in breach of human rights legislation and that housing law allows for eviction of tenants that allow properties to deteriorate.

She said: “I heard oral evidence given by the neighbourhood relations officer for the area where the defendant lives.

“I found her to be a fair and patient witness who explained in detail efforts made the claiment [the council] to try and resolve matters with the defendant.

“I noticed her frustration with the defendant’s lack of engagement and failure to make much progress resulting in court today.

“The defendant put up a passionate defence of his way of living but he appears to have conceded there was a viable at the time of the hearing in January 2020.

“Storing fuel including petrol and Calor gas could cause danger. He failed to keep his home neat, tidy and clean, evidenced from photo I have seen from 2018-2021.

“He failed to dispose of rubbish left in his shed, lean to, and garden. In contrast to the claimant the defendant offered limited evidence.

“His reason for not offering entry to the property was his age. He offered no medical evidence that he was shielding.

“The Government stated high risk ages were over 70.”

Mr May was told he has 28 days to vacate the property, however if he can show evidence that he has cleaned it up he can apply at court for eviction proceedings to be halted.


Words: Herbert Soden, Local Demcoracy Reporter

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