‘Happy birthday, you’re being evicted’

In her regular column about life on the Marlowe Road Estate, Michelle Edwards receives an unwanted birthday present

Marlowe Road Estate

Construction work continues on the Marlowe Road Estate, which is being redeveloped

Happy days: I’m being evicted.

Just to flick my mood switch from grateful-to-be-alive to royally-cheesed-off, I received my first Notice of Seeking Possession (NOSP) on my birthday. What a nice gift!

There is nothing more alarming than losing your home and moving when you have no choice.

“Dear Ms Edwards, as you will be aware…” Waffle. “As your home is in phase 2B of the development, you will be required to move by October 2019…” Waffle. “This notice is a formality and you should not be alarmed by this.” Oh, do be quiet.

I was packing my suitcase to depart for a destination out of London. As it was my birthday, I told myself that I was owed more than being in the midst of crime and disruption. But as if the timing of my notice wasn’t annoying enough, my brief escape from reality ended abruptly when I opened a further two pieces of correspondence from the council on my return.

The first was a request for an “office interview to complete a verification process” from the decant officer. The second was another NOSP, this time from the regeneration officer, following on from the early one. The opening line was a cracker: “As a matter of good practice, the council is serving this NOSP under Ground 10A of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1985.”

It’s a bit weird to peg forced evictions as “good practice”. Why don’t they say what they really mean? In a Jacob Rees-Mogg voice: “Local tenants and leaseholders mean absolutely nothing to us – do please get out.” Or, in a Cockney accent: “On yer bike!”

I wasted no time in my reply to letter number one; I declined the interview. No long explanation was needed. The council know who I am – they can verify me from my burgeoning house file at their office. Frankly, I’m in no mood to absorb the four-page NOSP.

I haven’t mentioned this previously, but I returned to my property after I was forced to vacate it last June because of the escalation of crime on and around the estate and because of my noisy neighbours. For a solid few months, I’ve been acting under legal advisement in preparation for litigation against the council for various historical failures. Log this, log that. Do this, do that. Request a face-to-face appointment. Send an email, send another email. Give them a chance, give them another chance, wait for them to screw up. Argh!

The wider advice? Fly the coop, withhold rent payments, and wait for the council to take me to court.

In another development, after extensive work by the Metropolitan Police, my drug dealer neighbour has gone. I caught a look inside the vacated property when the clearance contractors left the front door open; every inch was covered with unmentionable filth. It’s just horrendous that the occupant was allowed free reign for so long.

It’s hard to remember now, but the estate didn’t used to be all bad.