Hampton Court mews row: Couple face eviction 'over £32 bill'

By Claire Gilbody-Dickerson
BBC News

image captionBefore lockdown Mr Brown charged his car at work

A couple renting a Crown property home have said they are facing eviction over an electricity bill estimated at £32.

Christopher Brown, 33, and Daisy Bow Du Toit, 31, received a notice in October saying they had to leave their flat in Royal Mews, Hampton Court.

The couple said they had been told it was because they had used a local power socket to charge their electric car.

The Royal Household said tenancies were terminated "very rarely".

Mr Brown bought a Volkswagen e-Golf in 2019 and had been charging it at his workplace because the Royal Household refused to install a charge point at the property.

He said he tried to appeal against the refusal but was told the decision was final, despite the household initially seeming "receptive" when he first asked about it in 2018.

When the coronavirus lockdown forced him to spend more time at home, he said he resorted to using a plug socket in a communal boiler room when it was "absolutely necessary".

image captionThe couple say they are being evicted before Christmas

"It just seems they are just so stubborn on their decision making - and also cold and petty - by making us leave our home of five years, during a pandemic," he told the BBC.

"The rental market is unprecedentedly competitive due to a lack of properties and our move out date is falling less than a month before Christmas - all over about £32 of electricity which I would gladly pay for plus any fine they want to give me."

Ms Bow Du Toit, a PhD student, added: "We've needed the car for emergencies, grocery shopping and to enable me to find work after losing my job as a carer."

Since the BBC approached the Royal Household for comment, the couple, who said they had been "clean and quiet" tenants while living in the house, have been given an extra month to find a new home but said a one-month extension would make little difference.

Ms Bow Du Toit said the eviction demonstrated "the lack of forward thinking when it comes to charging cars in residential lettings, in particular, the royal households".

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said in a statement the Royal Household "engages an external agency to lease a small number of residential properties at Hampton Court Mews" and that tenancies were terminated "very rarely and only in exceptional circumstances".

The spokesperson would not say which agency was involved.

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