Kensington & ChelseaNews

‘I thought I was safe here’: Disabled veteran served Section 21 eviction by Cambridge University landlord

A disabled veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be forced to move out of London, away from his family and carers, after being served a section 21 eviction by his landlord.

Khalil Al-Khateeb, 59, of Earl’s Court Road, Earl’s Court, has been served three eviction notices since November 2023, ordering him to leave the property by June 9.

The evictions have been served by the property’s private landlord, Emmanuel College, of Cambridge University, managed by property company Bidwells.

A response to a Freedom of Information request from 2021 shows Mr Al-Khateeb’s flat is the only property the college owns in London.

Mr Al-Khateeb said: “I applied to the council to be rehoused six months ago, but a housing officer said I would have to move out of London.”

Mr Al-Khateeb is a veteran from the Iraq war. He was shot three times in the war, which left him disabled and suffering from severe physical and mental health issues. 

Dead mice found in the flat (Picture: Khalil Al-Khateeb)

His four sons – aged 25, 29, 30 and 34 – who live close by, act as Mr Al-Khateeb’s careers.

He said: “I cannot do daily activities without my sons – they help me with cooking, washing and dressing.

“They cannot leave their job and spend an hour-and-a-half driving to give me care every day. If I move, who will be able to help me?”

Since 2017, Mr Al-Khateeb has lived with damp and mould issues, a leaking roof, no hot water in his kitchen and rodents and insect infestations from holes in the floor and walls.

In 2018, Emmanuel College increased Mr Al-Khateeb’s rent from £1,150 per month to £1,354.16 per month. But Mr Al-Khateeb said he would not pay the increase until his property was repaired.

Officers from Kensington and Chelsea council’s environmental health team visited Mr Al-Khateeb’s property on two occasions between October 2023 and March 2024, and found a “range of defects”. They told the landlord the council would take enforcement action if the works continued to be delayed.

Due to the growing rent arrears, the landlord began court proceedings against Mr Al-Khateeb in December 2023.

Disrepair to the walls in Mr Al-Khateeb’s flat (Picture: Khalil Al-Khateeb)

In October 2023, Mr Al-Khateeb contacted Kensington and Chelsea council to find alternative accommodation in the area.

He said: “I meet all the criteria to be a high priority. I am disabled with mental health illnesses and in unsafe conditions because of disrepair.

“I found flats nearby and the landlords said I needed a referral from the council, but they won’t refer me. I can’t afford anything else.”

Mr Al-Khateeb has between five and eight medical appointments at Chelsea and Westminster hospital and his GP in Brompton Road each month. He said moving out of the capital would have an overwhelming impact on his physical and mental health.

He said: “I have severe trauma from being in the army. I have never slept more than two hours a night since I was shot.

“When I came to the UK in 2014, I thought I would be safe.”

Mr Al-Khateeb’s eviction notice on behalf of Emmanuel College cited rent arrears as the reason for his eviction (Picture: Mr Al-Khateeb)

A spokesman from Bidwells said: “Mr Al-Khateeb’s accommodation is under the management of a local agent who has been carrying out day-to-day maintenance of the property. But the entire building is now urgently in need of an upgrade to modern standards.

“We sympathise with Mr Al-Khateeb’s circumstances but for us to carry out the works required to his flat we need full access to the property, which is why we served a section 21 order.”

A spokeswoman from the council said: “The demand for housing in our small, expensive borough far outstrips supply and this can mean we have no choice but to look outside of Kensington and Chelsea to find a suitable property.

“We are working to increase the number of homes in our borough, including by building the first new council-owned homes in decades.”

Emmanuel College has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: From left, Khalil Al-Khateeb and disrepair to the walls in Mr Al-Khateeb’s flat (Picture: Khalil Al-Khateeb)

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