Racketeer Landlords - Bill Christopher

Police drag away a man as a 5 day "siege" ends in the eviction of the Cobbs
Police drag away a man as a 5 day "siege" ends in the eviction of the Cobb family

An account of a London slum landlord's retaliatory eviction of a tenant in 1963.

Submitted by Fozzie on February 16, 2022

At 5am, Saturday, 24th August, 100 policemen and ten bailiffs brutally evicted Mr and Mrs, Cobb, and their children, from their crumbling basement flat. at 40, St Stephens Gardens, Paddington.

Mrs. Cobb has been a tenant in the basement flat since August 1957 (Just after the RENT ACT). As a tenant in a furnished flat she therefore had no security of tenure.

This building is owned by Glen Powis properties, one of over 40 companies specialising in slum houses which Mr Kaye and Mr Phillips control.

Why the eviction? It is claimed by Kaye that the Cobb family were in arrears with rent. Wereas in fact they were up to date apart from a disputed sum of £2.19.9d. which has been outstanding for some time.

The palatial mansion of 40 St. Stephens Gardens is occupied as follows, top floor flat occupied by a Miss Harker who has a twenty year old gentleman named Joseph Keana living with her. They pay £10 per week rent including water rate and rates. While the eviction of Mrs. Cobb was in progress she was in touch with Kaye by phone.

The next two floors down are empty, Kaye is asking anything from £150 to £300 for fittings (key money) depending no doubt, on what he can get. Ground floor previously occupied by Mr and Mrs. Ahtuam and five children. Mr. Ahtuam had a mortgage on the house; he became mentally ill and was taken into a mental home. The. property passed into the hands of the Official Receiver from whom Kaye obtained the mortgage. Mrs Ahtuam at this time was seriously ill in hospital in childbirth. Kaye evicted her while she was in hospital. She is now at Newington Lodge1 and her five children are in different homes. She is contacting her MP for assistance to retrie.re her furniture which is still at number 40. The ground floor is now occupied by a gentleman who has paid £150 (key money) for fittings, and pays £5.10s a week rent. He does his own decorating.

The basement is indisputably in a disgusting, condition occupied until the eviction by Mr and Mrs Cobb and children. Mrs Cobb had previously been the tenant of Mr Ahtuam. I understand from Mr Cobb that paid his rent religiously. The only outstanding rent was £2.19.9d. which Kaye refused to take.

It seems obvious that the Cobbs were an inconvenience to Kaye. In 1962 they had complained to the Health Department regarding the appalling condition of their flat, thus forcing Kaye to undertake repairs which according, to him were carried out.

To be perfectly frank Kaye is in business. for “Profit" NOT TO PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH HOME, and obviously he could get more rent for the flat therefore the Cobbs were in the way, and had to go.

Housing accommodation in the 'Never had it so good' society is a racket, Building Societies, estate agents, land and property owners are 'PONCING' on the homeless, the only action one can take is 'Direct Action' the law is on the side of the racketeers, one or two of the administrators of the law are sympathetic to the homeless, but in the final analysis they are bound by the LAW. Strong Tenants Associations are the only protection.

  • 1A former workhousein South London that became a facility for homeless people. It was demolished in 1969 and the Aylesbury Estate was built on the site.