Edinburgh renters 'devastated' at being evicted from repossessed homes and given just two weeks to leave
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The Evening News spoke to residents at the Strada, off Ferry Road, who are furious after they were given formal notice to quit their homes due to properties being repossessed.
Despite paying their rent, tenants in sixteen of the modern flats are being forced out after they received letters informing them their landlord owed mortgage payments. In some cases, it has been confirmed that nothing has been paid for five years.
Many living in the ‘luxury’ flats where a one-bedroom property averages £900 and a two-bed up to £1200 have said they don't know where to turn for help.
It comes amid fears over record high rents in the capital and calls for the council to work with ‘super landlords’.
Fifteen tenants who rent from the same landlord were served eviction notices on Tuesday giving them two weeks notice to move out. One family has a newborn baby.
Five showed letters confirming debts of hundreds of thousands of pounds per flat owed by their landlord, who has had 22 properties at the Strada repossessed in total – a third of all the flats in that postcode.
The Evening News spoke to several tenants who are furious at losing their home and ‘left in the dark’ over where their rent money has gone, as it’s estimated millions have been racked up in total unpaid mortgage fees.
One couple told of how Sheriff officers handed them an eviction letter giving them two weeks notice to quit just before Christmas.
Karis said: "We had received letters about mortgage default payments by the landlord. But when we got a knock on the door and given an eviction notice we had just two weeks notice to move out.
"It was hard not to panic. Tenants shouldn’t be treated this way. We’ve always paid our rent on time. It’s devastating. We got advice from Shelter and contacted the lawyers of the bank and got extra time.”
One month after the eviction notice was served the lender took the landlord to court and repossessed the flat.
Karis added: "Now the bank plans to sell it. We asked if we could buy the flat but they told us we’d need to move out, offer on it and then if accepted we could move back in. Renters are messed about.
"We tried contacting the landlord but he blocked us on Facebook. It's as if we’ve just been left in the dark. We told the letting agent too and showed them all the letters, including the bank taking the landlord to court to repossess the flat. They just said ‘let’s wait and see what happens”.
The landlord Mr Roy Mark Fever is still registered owner of 16 flats at the Strada. Mr Fever, a director of Evolution Properties who lives in Ashford, Kent, also owns properties in Glasgow and London.
Mortgage repossessions can now be enforced across the country, after the temporary ban on evictions in place during coronavirus was lifted. The landlord’s lender has to get an order to evict tenants.
But desperate tenants are now fighting for more time and say more needs to be done to help them.
Tenant Marc Rendle, who lives with his partner Jade, said: “Today we got an eviction notice giving two weeks to move out. We have two children. We are good tenants who always pay rent on time yet we can be thrown out. There’s no excuse for this. We’re fighting this and hope to get at least another couple of months to find somewhere. But then we’ll need one month’s rent plus deposit, so about £2000 upfront. This is so stressful.
"The landlord hadn’t paid mortgage since 2017. Where’s my money? Hundreds of thousands forked out in rent. It beggars belief and makes me really angry.”
Ben Macpherson MSP said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear about what my constituents have experienced in this case, and my office and I will do all that we can to help anyone who gets in touch with us with housing or other issues. Situations like this emphasise the need for further reform to support tenants, like the new Rented Sector Strategy that the Scottish Government is progressing.”
A spokesperson for Living Rent Tenants Union said: “Living Rent has heard many stories like this from our members in Edinburgh and across Scotland.
"The increase in landlords mismanaging multiple properties despite tenants paying extremely high rents for their homes, shows the extent to which the current rental system is broken. There’s a monopoly on housing by a privileged few leads to a system in which tenants are at the whims of landlords.
"Rapid rent rises to over £1000 in Edinburgh for a two bed flat and evictions without due process are a direct consequence of this. Landlords and letting agents need to be held accountable for damage to renters’ lies. Giving people two weeks to evacuate their home in the middle of winter and in a public health crisis is unacceptable and dangerous.
"Tenants should feel protected and secure in their homes. Introducing legislation that ensures tenants will not be unfairly evicted is needed to defend renters from precarious situations such as the one these tenants are in.”
The landlord was contacted for comment.