Protest over sale of Holloway ‘body in bin’ house
Campaigners accuse housing association of leaving six-bedroom property to fall into disrepair
07 June, 2019 — By Calum Fraser
Campaigners at the house which neighbours say has been empty for years
CAMPAIGNERS have protested outside an empty six-bedroom house in Holloway which a housing association has lined up for sale.
The property, in Tollington Road, was the scene of tragedy last month when the body of a young man was found in a bin outside.
The sale was halted in the wake of 24-year-old Erik San-Filippo’s death, but Clarion Housing Group is now pushing ahead with its disposal.
Richard Hope, of Islington Homes For All campaign group, told the Tribune: “The fact the body in the bin happened is an indicator that something went wrong here. It shows the human cost of a flawed housing policy. If the place was maintained, I don’t think this would have happened.”
The group behind Monday’s protest is leading a campaign against housing associations selling off homes, arguing they should be kept well-maintained and used as social housing.
A spokeswoman for Clarion claimed that the house would need “significant investment to be brought up to standards and re-let as a social tenancy”.
But Mr Hope said: “How long has this property been left to fall into disrepair? I don’t accept that they could not have stepped in earlier to improve the house.
“If you look around us, all the other houses on this street look like they have been kept well. Why was the same level of quality not kept by Clarion in this house?
“The rent money they received was supposed to be spent on repairs and maintenance. If they say they can’t afford to maintain this house, then why don’t they just give it to the council?”
Residents living around Tollington Road say that the house had been empty “for years”.
The Tribune asked Clarion to clarify exactly how long it had been empty, but it refused to comment.
The three-storey house, split into three flats, is valued at around £1million.
Islington housing chief Diarmaid Ward said he had asked Clarion’s chief executive, Clare Miller, for a meeting when the Tribune first brought the case to the council’s attention after the body was found on May 11.
His offer was accepted this week, more than two weeks later.
Councillor Ward said that he was going to hold Clarion to account on three points. “Why are they selling it?” he asked. “Has refurbishment and repair been fully considered? And will the proceeds for the sale be invested back into genuinely affordable homes in Islington?
“At the very least profits should be ring-fenced to deliver homes back here in Islington.”
He added: “As a housing association they should endeavour to have good relations with their local authority. They should tell us about these things. We need answers.”
A Clarion spokeswoman said: “It is still our intention to enter the property on Tollington Road for auction, but only when criminal proceedings have concluded.
“We only take the decision to sell individual properties in exceptional circumstances. The revenue we receive from sales will be reinvested into our existing stock and building new affordable homes
“We will continue to work closely with the council to find solutions that work for all parties, as we strive to maximise the amount of good-quality social housing in the borough.”
• Gerardo Rossi, 52, of Tollington Road, has been charged with preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body in connection with Mr San-Filippo’s death. He is due to face trial later this month.