Vulnerable residents facing eviction left confused with ‘£21K of payments’ missing from bill

Residents being threatened with eviction by a council have been left confused after they found inaccuracies in their rent and service charge bills from the last two years.

Residents of sheltered housing complex Macintosh Court, in Leigham Court Road, Streatham, have found around £20 unexplained in their rent and service charge bills each month for the last two years from Lambeth council.

This comes as the council hiked residents’ heating and hot water bills by 352 per cent in April and said they could leave if they didn’t want to pay the extra £2,000 a year.

Residents of Macintosh Court in Streatham (Picture: Robert Firth)

Many of the tenants receive the basic pension of £156.20 per week, and are struggling to cover the huge rise leading to some falling behind in their payments and receiving eviction notices. The discrepancies in the invoices from the council has added to the residents’ concern over the situation.

Janet Gayle, 68, received a notice of seeking possession – the first stage of eviction – in August. She said: “It came to £20 less than their total. I checked the same letter from 2022 and there was a similar amount missing.

“These are elderly people who really trust the council.

“I’ve spoken with other residents and it’s the same – if this is everyone that’s £21,600 and we don’t know where it’s going.”

Letter from the council sent to a resident in 2022 showing service charge and rent inaccurately added up (Picture: Janet Gayle)

A spokesman from the council said that the missing charges were on a different letter and related to “sheltered housing charges” and emergency care line services. Residents claim they have not received this letter.

Ms Gayle said: “It’s really devastating, residents are petrified. They have been hiding that they are being bullied and threatened about rent and payments.

“This estate is for people who have been in terrible situations. They come here to feel safe. We feel cheated”

Letter from Lambeth council to residents in this year showing a miscalculated rent and service charge total (Picture: John Beechey)

Another resident, John Beechey, 68, was housed by the council in the estate after he had been homeless. Ms Gayle also added up his rent and service charges for the first time a few weeks ago.

He said: “Getting a straight answer out of the council is like getting your teeth pulled.

“They just say its correct and we have to pay it – but they aren’t telling us where the missing payment is going.”

Mr Beechey receives a basic pension and faces a 309 per cent increase in service payments since April.

He said: “They are asking for money I don’t have. Other residents have lost money they were saving up for their burials and funerals.

“What are they going to do with all of us ? They’re going to get me homeless again.”

Ms Gayle said these payment issues are the most recent problems in a long list of issues including leaks, flooding and building works going on for years.

A Lambeth council spokesperson said: “Some tenants have failed to pay their rent and service charges. In these cases we are looking to work with them to negotiate payment plans.

“Where figures are unclear in rent and service charge statements, especially around sheltered housing charges, we appreciate this could be laid out more clearly and will amend this in future.

“Council staff have carried out in-person visits to Macintosh Court sheltered housing complex residents to provide additional support, advice and to explain this point.”

Pictured top: Janet Gayle and John Beechey (Picture: Janet Gayle and John Beechey)

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