Devastated pensioner risks 'cruel and heartless' eviction days before going back to university

A 67-year-old is attempting to challenge his eviction notice after being told he must vacate the Leith home he has lived in for 27 years.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 7:48 am
Colin Brown at his Leith flat. Picture: Greg MacVean

Colin Brown, 67, was in May sent a notice to quit his flat on Junction Street by 25 July, as the landlord Express Investments is to sell the property.

“I was absolutely devastated,'' said Mr Brown, who is due to begin a Master’s degree at Edinburgh University next week.

“I’ve lived in Leith and been actively involved in the community for over 40 years, and have lived in this home for nearly three decades.”

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Mr Brown immediately appealed to the estate agent Drummond Miller, asking if he could be allowed to remain in his home as a sitting tenant, but was told this wasn’t possible.

He has remained in the flat and is awaiting a tribunal in the next few weeks to decide whether or not he will be evicted.

The estate agent ‘refused’ to inform Mr Brown why they cannot sell his home with him as a sitting tenant, he said.

“I am now facing the prospect of being made homeless,” he added.

“The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming, and it comes right at the time when I’m supposed to be starting my Master’s. I don’t need any of this at the moment.”

Mr Brown has been in touch with homelessness charity Crisis Scotland in order to provide advice in fighting the decision.

He understands that Express Investments intend to sell or have sold many more properties around the same time.

“Drummond Miller appear to have abrogated all moral responsibility to their tenants, of which there are between 40 and 60,” he said.

“It’s exceptionally cruel and heartless to put profit before people in this case,” said local Councillor Gordon Munro.

“I understand this is not the only property affected. This could present the City of Edinburgh Council with a real problem, if 40 households are evicted.

“It shows you how few rights private sector tenants have.”

Mr Brown is due to begin a Master’s degree in Celtic and Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh next week, and is desperate to take action on his case before classes begin.

Further education has been a long-term ambition for Mr Brown, a former actor who conducts walking tours around Edinburgh.

“It’s taken me 50 years, but being born and bred in Edinburgh it’s always been my dream to go to Edinburgh University. I’m the only person in my family to do postgraduate study.”

The course has even greater significance for Mr Brown, as it is not the first time he has tried to enter postgraduate education.

He was prevented from doing a Master’s course a decade ago by lack of funding due to his 2:2 undergraduate grade.

Mr Brown said he achieved a lower grade than expected due to the tragic death of his partner before his final year of study.

“One of the biggest traumas you can have in your life is moving house,” he said. “With her death I’ve had one in trauma in my life, and I don’t want another.”

Drummond Miller did not respond to a request for comment.