Tenant evicted from Gateshead house for 66 years

A MAN has been at risk of eviction from his home for more than 60 years after a county court judge heard allegations of disorder 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 condition of his housing.

The 67-year-old, who moved to Standfield Gardens, Wardley, Gateshaed, in 1955, claimed he had made improvements to the property, but limited access to electricity and l The lack of gas had slowed his progress.

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He said: “I have kept to the best of my ability the promises I made at this tribunal.

“I reduced my arrears to zero, I cleaned the house, I de-cluttered it.

“I have photographic evidence of some of the things that I threw out that were collected by the council.

“I have little access to electricity, I don’t have access to hot water. My ability to clean the house is limited because of this.

“I kept my promise to tidy up the garden – I trimmed the hedges.

“I trimmed the hedge while it belongs to the other neighbor – I did it with the agreement of my neighbor.

“When I was asked to facilitate safety inspections, I complied. ”

The court heard that Mr May, who does not have access to electricity or gas, was powering his house using car batteries charged with a gasoline generator.

He also argued that the authority was violating human rights law by imposing the eviction.

During cross-examination, lawyer Shada Mellor, representing Gateshead’s counsel, said Mr May’s electricity was cut after the supplier discovered he was bypassing the meter.

She also said the former merchant seaman didn’t always let staff inspect her home.

She said, “You talk about making promises in court; it was at the hearing on February 3, 2020.

“It was over a year and a half ago. Each of these upgrades should have been improved and completed by now.

“You’ve had a lot of time to put things back in order. The terms of the rental agreement for the property require you to keep it clean and tidy and to dispose of your waste properly.

“They sent you a letter on August 12th asking if they could visit the property, you refused.

“There is a condition in the rental agreement is to do nothing that could cause damage.

“The reason you don’t have electricity or electricity on the property is because you didn’t pay any charges – you bypassed your electricity meter.

“Your property is not in better condition than it was a year and a half ago.

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

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

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

She said there had been improvements to the kitchen and living room, but no significant changes overall. The housing worker also said that using a gasoline generator to charge cars’ batteries was dangerous and that “hazardous materials” stored in the house were a “health risk”.

She said: “The house could catch on fire, there could be an explosion because of the fuel you are storing.”

District Judge Charnock-Neal issued the take-over order, saying it does not violate human rights law and the housing law allows eviction of tenants who leave properties deteriorate.

She said, “I heard oral testimony from the Neighborhood Relations Officer for the area where the accused lives.

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

“I noticed his frustration with the accused’s lack of commitment and his inability to make much progress, which led to court today.

“The accused passionately defended his way of life, but he appears to have admitted that there was a workable solution at the time of the hearing in January 2020.

“Storing fuel, including gasoline and Calor gas, can be dangerous. He failed to keep his house neat, tidy, and neat, as evidenced by the photo I saw from 2018-2021.

“He failed to dispose of the waste left in his shed, shed and garden. Unlike the plaintiff, the defendant offered limited evidence.

“The reason he didn’t offer entry to the property was his age. He offered no medical evidence that he was protecting.

“The government said the high risk ages were over 70. ”

Mr May has been told he has 28 days to vacate the property, but if he can prove he cleaned it, he can ask the court to stop the eviction process.

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