Residents of a Brixton housing co-operative threatened with eviction have been given more time to defend against the bid to remove them.
A judge at Lambeth County Court today adjourned proceedings brought by Lambeth Council to throw out tenants of 16 flats in Carlton Mansions, Coldharbour Lane.
Possession orders will now be heard over two days in the second week of August. Injunctions will be heard at the same time.
In the meantime Lambeth council and Carlton Mansions residents must commission a joint fire inspection in the common areas of the building, as well as the inside of individual flats.
The Judge said: “I have decided that it would not be right for the matter to be dealt with today in what would in effect by summary disposal of the cases.
“I recognise that in this case it is complicated by the fact that there are a number of different occupiers.” He also recognised that the co-operative has existed for a number of years and some members are long term tenants.
Resident Matthew told the court: “I am no expert of the law, but there is a lot at stake for us. We have not had a lot of time and we have had a lot of stress and our homes have been threatened.”
A former resident accused Lambeth council of pursuing the evictions with “overt aggressiveness” that has led to some co-op members suffer serious mental health issues.
Last month a judge at Lambeth County Court refused to hear an immediate injunction application made by Lambeth’s lawyers, telling them he was not prepared to “make possession orders by the back door”.
The authority, which owns the freehold for the building, claims a fire inspection found the Victorian block poses an intolerable threat to life.
An injunction is one of the most draconian types of order you can seek and a judge will only grant it in very serious cases. If the injunction had been granted, it is possible that residents may have been arrested if they entered the building.
Speaking last month, Cllr Rachel Heywood said: “The situation with Carlton mansions has moved extremely rapidly and with less time for discussion and the exploration of alternative options than I, personally, would have wished for.
“In fact my preference is that we continue to work productively with CMHC to develop a good solution for the redevelopment of Somerleyton rd which includes CMHC. There is no reason why we cannot continue to do this, but nor can we ignore the gravity of the findings of the fire risk assessment. This has placed an urgent duty upon the council to vacate the building because of “intolerable” levels of risk.”