The criminal landlords of Forest Gate named and shamed

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Mayor of London and London Assembly have recently published a list of private sector housing landlords and agents convicted of crimes related to the management of properties they own and rent, and their failure to comply with legislation aimed at protecting tenants' rights (see here).

This website has often been critical of Newham Council about the way it behaves over a number of matters locally. But in this instance, it emerges with considerable credit in being at the forefront of prosecuting rogue landlords.

Using the Mayor of London's database, we give details of 17 Forest Gate properties, whose owners/agents have been prosecuted 45 times for offences related to the management of those properties over the last year, bringing a total yield of a little under £135,000.

Newham has, in total, achieved 128 successful prosecutions against rogue landlords and their agents over the last twelve months - almost a third of the total of only 296 achieved London-wide. The council is to be congratulated for its vigilance. The great pity is that other councils are not as pro-active, in defence of private sector tenants and that the fines available to the courts are not stiffer.

The reality for many rogue landlords, however, is that the fines they receive are little more than minor financial inconveniences to their business and amount, often, to little more than a month's rent from the properties that they benefit from mismanaging. There is little real incentive- via large fines and company suspensions -  for bad landlords to change their anti-social practices.

Below, we list the Forest Gate properties at the centre of the criminal offences committed by the landlords/agents  and give details of the successful prosecutions and those convicted of the offences.  Some patterns emerge in this analysis and details are given at the end of the blog.

The properties are listed in alphabetical order of street names.

124 Capel Road

An interesting property! Its owners/controllers/agents received a total of five fines on 17 March 2017 in relation to its management. A company called Rentify, of Long Lane, London EC1 was fined £1,500 for failing to obtain a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence, as required by Newham Council, and was fined a further £250 for each of two offences for failing to provide the council with documentation related to the property, as required.

124 Capel Road
A second firm of estate agents, Life Work Study, London was also fined £1,000 for failing to apply for an HMO licence. That company's sole director, Omar Patel was fined £750 on that day for the same offence.

Life Work Study throws an interesting light on a complex web of local property ownership/management arrangements, which are considered towards the end of this article. It was previously (2013-2015) known as YLR (Whitechapel), see below for similar sounding named companies, and trades out of the offices of another estate agent appearing in this article, Filton's, at 190 High Street Stratford.

Any would-be tenant considering using Filton's is advised to search its Facebook presence. Its services are rated by 10 people - seven of them giving the firm only one star out of five.

51 Clova Road

Mohammed Jawad Hussain of West Ham Lane Stratford was convicted of three offences in relation to this property on 24 January 2017. They were: failure to carry out improvements, as instructed by the council (fined £2,000); failure to provide documentation in relation to the property when requested to do so by the council (fined £1,000) and failure to comply with licence conditions, to ensure that the property is in a safe and good condition (fined £1,000).

51 Clova Road
51b Clova Road

The same landlord was also convicted of three similar offences relating to this property, on the ground floor and at the rear of number 51.  The fines were £1,800, £1,000 and £1,000, respectively.

4 Dunbar Road

A company called YLR Ltd of High Street Stratford ( see Life Work Study - above) was fined £1,500 on 17 March 2017 for failure to apply for an HMO licence for this property.

4 Dunbar Road
Barclay Estates, letting agents of 86 Upton Lane (see photo) was fined on two accounts of offences of failing to provide Newham Council with details relating to this property, as required by law,  on the same day. They were fined £500 for each offence.

Barclay Estates, Katherine Road
Fiaz Mahud Khan also of Upton Lane was also fined £500 on each of two counts of failing to provide Newham Council details of the property, as required, on the same day.

SM Property, 468 Katherine Road

This estate agent was fined £4,000 on 13 September 2017 for a failure to display its letting fees appropriately, within its premises, in a separate piece of consumer protection legislation.

SM Property, Katherine Road
36 Osborne Road

YLR Ltd (see 4 Dunbar Road, above) , but this time operating via Filton's of 190 High Street Stratford, was fined £1,500 for failure to apply for an HMO licence relation to this property on 17 March 2017.

36 Osborne Road
Filton's is an estate agent, which is currently advertising 20 properties on its website - the vast majority in Newham.  The company clearly has a cavalier attitude to its business and social responsibilities. To quote its website:

We are an estate and property management group run by some of the most disruptive minds in the industry ... We .. play hard, without the bureaucracy (ed: like abiding by Housing legislation, apparently). ... We don't do uppity suits and fake smiles. That's why we're turning the industry upside down ... And we're pushing boundaries for clients with new revenue streams, managed short lets and award winning marketing .

Filton's of High Street, Stratford - cavalier
The company's intolerance of the niceties of the law got them into further trouble on 7 June 2017, when they were fined £5,000 for a failure to display accurately display their letting fees on their premises, as required by consumer protection law.

117 Osborne Road

YLR Ltd, operating via Filton's of 190 High Street Stratford, was given two fines in relation to this property on 17 March 2017, one of £1,500 for failure to apply for an HMO licence, and one of £800 for failure to ensure that the property is in a safe and good condition (for company details, see 4 Dunbar Road, above).

117 Osborne Road
168 Osborne Road

This innocuous looking property on the Woodgrange estate has a complex ownership/management arrangement,  whose principals were subject to four, separate, prosecutions last year. Azher Iqbal of near-by Windsor Road was fined £3,250 on 11 May 2017 for a failure to comply with a property licence, to ensure that the property is kept in a safe and good condition. He was also fined £1,100 on the same day for a failure to apply for a licence to run the property as an HMO.

168 Osborne Road
A company called City Lord Ltd, of 25 Burdett Road, Tower Hamlets was fined £1,000 for a failure to register the property as an HMO on the same day, and Sidra Butt, also of Burdett Road, was fined £500 that day on an identical charge.

City Lord Real Estate, Burdett Road
McCreadie Hotel, 357-363, Romford Road

This large, four triple-fronted house,  hotel is used as bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless families by boroughs outside of Newham; for a while, certainly Tower Hamlets was a major customer. It is in a poor state of repair and the landlords have clearly done well over the years from the public purse. 

McCreadie Hotel, Romford Road
It is a sign of how profitable this business has been that they have chosen not to cash in and sell the property for the £5m plus it could get on the current property market from a developer wishing to turn it into 20+ flats.
The hotel currently looks very run down and under-used, perhaps change is on the cards, accelerated by the prosecutions, below?

 Osman Ahmed Dakri of Holcombe Road, Ilford was fined £14,500 on 2 August 2017 on two charges, for a failure to comply with the rules for large private rented properties, which ensure the property is in a safe and good condition.
A company, which looks as if he controls, bearing the name, A Dakri Ltd of Romford Road (the hotel's address), was fined £38,000 for similar offences, on the same day.

5 Sandringham Road

Abdul Malik of Shrubland Road, E8 received two fines relating to this property on 2 March 2017, one of £1,000 for failing to apply for an HMO licence and one of £2,000 for failing to comply with licensing conditions.

5 Sandringham Road
32 Sandringham Road

Faizul Hoque of Osborne Road, Forest Gate, was fined £210 on 3 August 2017 for failing to comply with licence conditions in ensuring that this property was in a safe and good condition.

32 Sandringham Road
269 Sprowston Mews

Tariq Khan of Halley Road Manor Park was fined £500 on 3 November 2017, for failing to take action to control pests, after instructed to do so by the council, on the first floor flat of this property.

269 Sprowston Mews
9 Sprowston Road

An interesting property, to say the least.  Six different people and bodies have been found guilty of criminal offences about its letting status.  See at the end of this article for some analysis.

Firstly, Barclay Estates of 86 Upton Lane (see 4 Dunbar Road, above) was fined £3,000 on 17 March 2017 for a failure to apply for an HMO licence. Faiz Mahmud Khan, also of Upton Lane was fined a similar amount on the same day for the same offence, as was Maqhood Khan, also of Upton Lane. They were both also fined £500 on the same day for failing to provide details about the property to Newham Council, when asked to do so.

9 Sprowston Road
Shahid Khan of London Road E13 was fined £3,000 for failing to apply for an HMO licence on 17 March 2017, and Life Work Study of 190 High Street Stratford (see 124 Capel Road, above) was fined £1,000 for the same offence on the same day.  Making a total of £13,500 fines on the day, although probably only representing 4/5 months rent for the property.

22 Sprowston Road

Rameschander Patel of Ashburton Avenue, Ilford was fined a total of £25,000 for three offences in relation to this property on 5 January 2017. They were: a failure to comply with licence conditions to keep it safe and in good condition (£9,000), failure to comply with HMO regulations (£14,000) and a failure to provide Newham Council with documentation relating to the property, when requested to do so (£2,000).

22 Sprowston Road
29 Tenbury Close

Ahmedl Khan of 84 Romford Road was fined £1,050 on 3 August 2017 for failing to comply with a property licence condition, that this property was in a safe and good condition.
Tenbury Close
98b Upton Park Road

Mechella Fiona Jones, also of Upton Park Road was fined £1,500 on 22 June 2017 for a failure to comply with licensing conditions that ensure the property is in a safe and good condition.

98b Upton Park Road
43b Woodgrange Road

This property is one of the flats behind the now defunct NUR takeaway on Woodgrange Road.  Its owner Mohamed Sadfar of Cecil Road, E13 was fined £5,000 on 2 March 2017 for his failure to carry out improvements on the property, as instructed to do so, by the council.

43b Woodgrange Road

Some of the same companies and individuals appear on a number of occasions in the listings above, showing how a tight knit, close web of associations plays a significant part in the criminal activity listed above.

So, for example, Faiz Mahmud Khan, of Upton Lane has been fined for two offences in relation to 4 Dunbar Road and one in relation to 9 Sprowston Road. Other organisations also fined for offences in relation to these two properties include Barclay Estates (three offences) and Lifework Study (one offence), with an additional offence in relation to 124 Capel Road - see above for details.

YLR Ltd has also been successfully prosecuted for offences concerning 4 Dunbar Road - and in addition has convictions in connection with 117 Osborne (two) and 36 Osborne (one). YLR, itself, operates from the premises of Filton's in Stratford, which prides itself on its cavalier operating style and has been fined £5,000 for failure to comply with regulations relating to estate agency.

As we said at the start of this piece, Newham Council is to be commended for the way in which it has proactively prosecuted the rogue landlords and agents featured in this article. It has had to fight hard to obtain the right to defend private sector tenants via this legislation. The government wishes to reduce the powers of local authorities such as Newham, in this regard.

For the sake of the many thousands of private sector tenants in Newham and elsewhere, these powers need extending and strengthening, not weakening to the benefit of rogue landlords and agents, who are able to exploit their position at a time of chronic shortages in the housing market.

A survivor's tale - 1889 Forest Gate Industrial School Fire

Monday, 1 January 2018

It is always a great delight to get feedback on articles that appear on this website - particularly from families of people whose stories are affected. It is even more so, when the responses move the story on a little and add further detail to it.

What follows below is an account by one of the great-grandchildren of a resident of the Industrial School on Forest Lane, who was a hero on the night of the tragic fire that killed the 26 boys on the night of New Year's Eve, 1889.

We have written of that fire before, see here, here and here.

The Industrial school ablaze, New Year's eve 1889
Reader, Peter Norton, contacted this website, and said:

Below is an excerpt from a short essay I wrote about my great-grandfather, for my great grandmother, who mourned his death from 1918, until she died in the mid 1960's.
"Charles George Hipkins was born in 1877 in Poplar, to Joseph Hipkins and Sarah Creamer. Joseph was born in the Midlands and by the time Charles was born, he was a boiler maker in London.
Unfortunately, he died when Charles was 10 and the family fell apart, with no money and ended up in workhouses and schools for the poor.
At the age of 12 Charles Hipkins was a boarder at the Forest Gate District School, – the parish charity school for the poor of the Whitechapel and Poplar Union.  He was there when a fire burnt the building down on the night of the 31 Dec 1889.

Fire in the dormitory - source
Illustrated London News
 According to the Illustrated London News 26 boys aged between 7 and 12 died and 58 were rescued from 2 locked dormitories.  There were 636 children in the school that night. 
Memorial to the 26 fire victims,
West Ham cemetery
Charles was awarded a Silver Medal from The Royal Society for the Saving of Life from Fire and was given 5 guineas.  Only 4 others got this highest award for that incident and they were all adult workers at the school.  Already Charles was proving his bravery! 
The silver medal Charles was awarded
for his bravery on the night of the fire
The fire in Forest Gate lead to the government taking urgent action.
It issued a binding circular to all Boards of Guardians urging the importance of leaving dormitory doors unlocked at night, conducting fire drills and establishing voluntary workhouse fire brigades, maintaining telephonic communications with fire stations wherever possible and providing fire escapes.
A second illustration of destruction in the
dormitories - from the Illustrated London News
By the 1891 census Charles Hipkins was a Houseboy at ‘The Brigade Institution’,  147-153 Ebury Street, St Georges Square – another charity school. 
He worked as a coachman and aged 17 he joined the Army Service Corps working as a driver in the 5th Battalion East Surrey ‘Queens’ Regiment.    He married Edith Croxson in 1899 in West Ham. How they met, as she was from  Kirton in Suffolk, I do not know.  
They then lived in South Wimbledon and had a son Charles William George Hipkins, in 1900. Just one month before his son was born Charles senior went to South Africa with his Regiment for two years for the 2nd Boer War (where was awarded the South African campaign medal).  When he returned Charles and Edith had their second and final child Edith Hipkins (ed: author, Paul Norton's grandmother) in 1903.  
Charles was working as a house painter when the Great War started and voluntarily re-enlisted ‘for the duration of the war’ on the 29 September 1915.  The attached photo shows him in the East Surrey’s uniform proudly showing his Forest Gate and South African Medals.  On the back of the photo, he wrote ‘ for mum’.

Charles, proudly wearing the medal,
twenty five years later, when he
re-enlisted into the army, to fight in WW1
I  (ed: Paul Norton) have also researched the others who won awards that night but still cannot find out exactly what Charles did. He was certainly the only boy to be awarded the highest award - the silver medal.
The London papers listed all the awardees, they, their status and award are listed, below.

Distraught parents at the inquest into the
Industrial School fire-deaths - source: The Graphic
The lists shows: Name of recipient (details about the person) - nature of award:
 Charles Hipkins (12 year old pupil) - Silver Medal
 Thomas Jones Oakley (Neighbour to school, who helped in the rescue) - Silver Medal
 Henry Elliot (Yardman* , staff) - Silver Medal
 George Hare (Assistant yardman*, staff, aged 22) - Silver Medal
 Charles Duncan (Superintendant of school) - Illuminated Testimonial
 Miss Maria Julia Bloomfield (Wardrobe woman) - Illuminated Testimonial
 Herbert John Roe (Staff?) - Illuminated Testimonial
 Miss Laura Terry (Head sewing mistress) - Certificate
 Mrs Eliza Roe (Staff ?) - Certificate
John Malcolm (Neighbour to school, who helped in the rescue) - Certificate
 Walter Edmond Crisp (Unknown) - Certificate
Frederick William Roe (Staff ?) - Certificate
John Blagdon (Police constable) - Certificate

* N.B., Yardsmen slept in the dormitories, with the boys." We would like to thank Peter for his contribution, and as ever, would be delighted to hear from other descendants of survivors who could provide further details to the tragic story of the fire and its aftermath for the individuals concerned.

We would be delighted to hear other stories of survivors from the fire that night, or indeed any details of any residents of the Industrial School.

Paul Romane's Upper Cut exhibition - for the record

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Forest Gate Arts' stalwart, Paul Romane, recently curated an excellent exhibition on the Upper Cut club, fifty years after its brief sojourn in Forest Gate, as part of the second council Heritage Week programme.

Above and below left, some of the exhibits curated for the exhibition.  Below right - also in the exhibition - a Forest Gate 'mod' of the era - a typical Upper Cut patron

The exhibition was held in the temporary headquarters of Forest Gate Arts, in Upton Lane, and this post is an on-line record of the fine show. Paul, a long time devotee of the club, and in particular some of the Soul acts that played there, had spent a great deal of energy drawing together exhibits for the week-long show.

The Upper Cut club on Woodgrange Road later
became the Ace of Clubs  (above)
and an outside shot of the gallery
hosting the exhibition (below)

A poster advertising the club, preserved
from the era and on display in the exhibition.
Paul collected mementos and memorabilia from a wide range of sources - including Small Faces roadie and brother of band member Ronnie - Stan Lane, and this website, together with many of his own souvenirs, to provide a fascinating, evocative and inspiring exhibition.

Left one of the display boards in the exhibition showing adverts for the gigs appearing at the Upper Cut (loaned by this website). Right, some modern posters in 60's psychedelic style by Forest Gate artist, and sister of modern singer, Plan B, Lauren Drew.

This post is being published to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the club - to make way for a bingo hall - in the last week of 1967. The artifacts embraced in many of the photos here are reproduced for the first time on this site, and add to the considerable collection already here. See below for details of other blog articles on the club.

An original poster, featuring acts
 appearing during the club's opening
 week (note mis-spelling of Jimi Hendrix's
 name - he was little known in the UK at
 the time, hence the Boxing Day 

matinee gig).
A flyer for one week's
shows at the club,
on display in the

The curator - Paul Romane

Paul is a Newham boy; born in Plaistow in 1960, he has spent his whole life - bar the decade of the 1970's - in the borough. He moved to Forest Gate in 1981 and has developed a fascination with the briefly existing Upper Cut Club ever since. Such is his love for the music it featured, that he named his only son Otis after one of the venue's greatest performers. 

He has spent most of his working life in and around the arts, as a singer, musician, video maker, recording studio owner, poet and local music archivist.

The club

We have written extensively about the club, which lasted for only a year - from December 1966 until New Year's Eve the following year. (see footnote for details of previous articles ).

Insignificant-looking, but historic,
 scrap of paper. Kenny and Eddie
 Johnson (who ran the Lotus Club
 and Stratford's Two Puddings) had
negotiated with Aronsohn to take
 over the empty building that was
to become the 
Upper Cutand 
shared  with him their business 
plans.They feel that he duped
  them, when the club opened with
 an identical set of objectivesrun
 by Walker Brothers, Billy and George.
The Upper Cut was located in a building on land next to Percy Ingle's, on Woodgrange Road. The building was originally opened in 1902 as Forest Gate Public Hall, and served a variety of roles over the next century - hosting a theatre, cinema, skating rink, the Upper Cut Club (briefly), a bingo hall, The Ace of Clubs club, and an electrical warehouse, until its demolition, in the early years of this century, to make way for a ventilation shaft for the Eurotunnel rail link, which remains today.

Left - adverts for gigs at Upper Cut club, right - coverage of the club - all from the New Musical Express, at the time.

The location was awarded a plaque by Newham Council five or six years ago, in recognition of the fact that it was there that Jimi Hendrix wrote and first performed  Purple Haze - widely regarded as being one of the greatest rock numbers of all time - on Boxing Day 1966. The sign has subsequently been removed, as developers Mura have taken over much of the surrounding land.

The owner - Billy Walker

The club was owned and named after British boxer, Billy Walker, seen as a 'glamour' figure at the time of 'Swinging Britain'. Billy was very much the front man for the club, with his brother, George, the brains and businessman behind it. See here for details of Billy's local associations and views on the club, based on a personal interview with this website.

Above, programmes and Boxing magazines featuring Upper Cut owner, Billy Walker's boxing career, and the corner devoted to him in the exhibition.

Entrance and cloakroom of Upper Cut on
 night of Stax performance, March 1967, 

with large poster of Billy featured
 in the reception area.
Billy, in a staged photo, surrounded
 by "adoring fans" at the club, in the
 midst of the 'Swinging Sixties' .
(photo: copyright Getty Images)

Billy (right) with Lord Bath previewing an
 exhibition of his lordship's controversial artwork
 on the walls of the club.
 (photo copyright of Getty Images)
The performers

Although the club was opened for just one year, it attracted almost all the prominent UK bands of the day (excluding, notably, the Beatles) and some American black acts who were struggling to get recognition at home.

Most notable among them was Jimi Hendrix, who appeared at the club twice.  

Possibly the biggest night in the club's short life was on 18 March 1967, when the so called Stax tour appeared. They performed one of their four UK gigs at the club, as part of a European tour. The star of the show was Otis Redding - who was dead months later following a plane crash. He was supported on the bill by Sam and Dave, The Mar-Keys, Booker T and the MG's, Arthur Conley and Eddie Floyd.

Left - waiting outside the club for the Stax gig, Right - poster advertising the gig

Above and below, the programme
for the night for the Stax gig

New Musical Express coverage of  the Stax night at the Upper Cut club

Ronnie Lane

One of the biggest UK acts to perform at the club was local band, The Small Faces. The lead, Steve Marriott, was brought up in Manor Park, while bass guitarist, Ronnie Lane, spent his youth in Forest Gate's Romford Road.  See here for this site's biography of Ronnie.

Left - a cut-out of Ronnie Lane, with guitar - loaned to the exhibition by his brother, Stan.  Right - a poster advertising one of Ronnie's later projects - Slim Chance

Left - one of Ronnie's jackets, right the label inside from 60's famed 'pop culture' retailer, King's Road's  'Granny Takes a Trip' - loaned to the exhibition by Stan Lane.  Below - one of Ronnie's "country jackets", as Stan calls them.

Paul was able to track down Stan Lane, Ronnie's brother, who was for a while the band's roadie. He now lives in Essex and has a considerable collection of Ronnie's possessions and artefacts. He kindly lent some of these to Paul, and they formed a central part of the exhibition.

What's next?

It is a great pity that at the end of the carefully curated exhibition, its contents had to be returned to their original owners, as there is no location on which to house a longer show in Newham - the borough being one of only seven in London without its own museum.

Newham has a very rich musical heritage - particularly at the popular end of the spectrum.  Other venues in Forest Gate alone worthy of public exhibition and recognition include: the Lotus Club (see here for details), The Princess Alice, as host to the first Rock against Racism (see here), The Tonic Sol-Fa college in Earlham Grove (see here). 

Beyond these narrow geographic boundaries is Canning Town's former Bridge House (see here) and pubs such as the Ruskin Arms in Manor Park (another venues for the Small Faces), Stratford's former Two Puddings pub (along with the Forest Gate's Jive Dive, home to perhaps Britain's first disco), Maryland's Cart and Horses (home, as the poster outside proclaims, of Iron Maiden) and Stratford Angel Lane's Railway Tavern (home of a sixties blues club).

Posters advertising events at Kenny Johnson's Forest Gate's Jive Dive (Earlham Grove) and Lotus Club (Woodgrange Road)

In addition to the Small Faces band members, other prominent musical performers with significant Newham connections include: Dame Vera Lynn, Lonnie Donegan, Joe Brown, David Essex, Forest Gate's Plan B (Ben Drew), and a very lively current Grime scene.

Future shows and dedicated exhibition space devoted to the rich history and locations outlined above would make a significant statement about Newham's pride in its musical heritage. But will the council be prepared to recognise this and facilitate the celebration?

This site's back catalogue

Previous articles on this site related to the history of the Upper Cut club can be found here:

When Otis played Forest Gate (March 1967May 2013

Upper Cut (1) - a summary of the emergence of the first six months of the club (December 1966 - July 1967July 2013

Upper Cut (2) - a brief survey of the second, and final half year of the club's existence (August 1967 - December 1967July 2013

Georgie Fame, The Tremeloes and Unit 4 + 2 - (September 1967 at the Upper CutOctober 2013

When Stevie Wonder played Forest Gate - (October 1967November 2013

Mouthwatering musical fayre on Woodgrange Road - (November 1967December 2013

Club bills for the Upper Cut's two Decembers - (Decembers 1966 and 1967January 2014

The Upper Cut beds down - (January 1967February 2014

Essex comes to Forest Gate - (February 1967March 2014

Stax comes to town - (March 1967April 2014

A mixed bunch at the Upper Cut in April (April 1967May 2014

Upper Cut - May 1967 (June 1967June 2014

Summer of Love in Forest Gate (Summer 1967August 2014

Golden Boy, Billy Walker's Forest Gate memories September 2014


To Paul Romane for curating the exhibition and to Sophie Rigg from Forest Gate Arts for allowing us to use some of her photos of it.