|Issue 6 - June 1972|
|A large number
of tenants will be evicted from their rented bedsits in Jesmond, Newcastle,
within the next few weeks.
The evictions will take place as a result of Newcastle City Council's new 'get tough' policy over multi-occupied houses.
The council dragged out and dusted an old byelaw stating that multi-occupied houses - with more than one tenant per floor - should have received planning permission before being let.
So all landlords of multi-occupied houses in the city have been asked to register with the city health department by mid-June and are being ordered to carry out repairs to their property.
At 36 Cavendish Place, Jesmond, for instance, the landlord, Mr A F Short, has been told to put sink units into each of the rooms occupied by his five tenants.
He has also been told to put a fire escape at the back of the house and to reline the doors, presumably to stop smoke seeping from one room to another in event of fire.
He says the repairs will cost £1,200. He has served notice to quit on all his tenants because the repairs will entail cutting off the water and electricity supplies.
However, three of his tenants have applied to the Rent Tribunal for security of tenure and it will be interesting to see whether the city health department can still order these repairs to be done if the tenants win six months security.
At 5 Ripon Gardens, Jesmond, the five tenants, all Newcastle University students and the landlord, received a joint letter from the City Council, telling them multi-occupation must cease.
In other words, the tenants have to get out but in fact the axe will not fall at this house until the end of the summer term when most of the students go home.
The student representative council of Newcastle University are in close liaison with the City Council over which houses containing students will become subject to an enforcement order during the summer.
The SRC's biggest fear is that rents will go up considerably in these houses after revitalisation.
This is almost a certainty since the landlords will be laying out quite a bit on each house to comply with the council order.
But the SRC has the resources to launch a major campaign through the Rent Tribunal if necessary to keep the increases within reach of student pockets.
The real losers, as always, will be the low-income working tenants or those on the dole who are often ignorant of the procedure needed to fight the rises.
It has yet to be seen whether private tenants will be covered in the Housing Finance Bill now working its tortuous way through Parliament. If not then the net result of all this will be to decrease the bedsit market for low wage earners in Newcastle very seriously indeed.