Exeter tenants evicted from flats with 'no warning'

Image caption Bailiffs called at the flats at 07:00 BST to carry out the eviction

More than 40 people including children have been evicted from a block of flats in a raid by bailiffs.

It follows the repossession of part of the property in Bartholomew Street, Exeter, from Property Edge Lettings which went into administration in 2012.

Families, most of them Polish, said they were given no warning of the eviction and just 20 minutes to leave.

Receivers Alder King, who sent in enforcement officers, said it had complied with court procedures.

Image caption Landlord Shaun Kelly said the eviction had come "out of the blue"

One of the residents, Izabela, said: "We have just been told get out and we don't know where we are going."

Rob Hannaford, Exeter's lead councillor for housing, said he was "very concerned" for the tenants, with whom the council was working to provide alternative accommodation.

He said the council had been made aware of the situation several weeks ago and had offered advice on alternatives, as well as giving residents information on legal advice.

"We had been trying to find out the date of the planned eviction from the bailiffs but they were unable to provide us with that information," he said.

"This again highlights the pressing need for private sector tenants across the board to have stronger legal protection."

Image caption Exeter City Council is working with the tenants to find alternative accommodation

Shaun Kelly, a former director of Property Edge Lettings, said the eviction had come "out of the blue".

He said: "The tenants work, they pay their taxes, there are no shirkers in the house.

"And the bailiffs have walked into their homes and told them they have 20 minutes.

"That's not the country I live in and it's not a country I want to live in."

Exeter Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "This is a disgraceful state of affairs which the city council and police should investigate as a matter of urgency.

"It also highlights the urgent need for the growing number of people in our communities who rely on private rented accommodation to be given more protection."

Martyn Jones, senior partner at Alder King, said: "Of course we regret the distress this case has caused to the occupiers.

"However we have strictly followed the proper legal process and complied at all times with court procedures and advice in what has clearly been a very difficult situation."

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