Search

Behind the doors of Britain’s ‘worst hotel’ - sewage, cockroaches and vulnerable tenants

11:00 24 April 2014

Residents of the HappyVale Hotel - dubbed

Residents of the HappyVale Hotel - dubbed 'the worst hotel in Britain' - turn out to support landlord Stephen Gethin (front) at Highbury Magistrates Court. Picture: Tony Gay

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

It’s been dubbed “the worst hotel in Britain” and its owner was recently accused by a judge of exhibiting a “callous disregard for the safety and welfare of vulnerable residents”.

Tenants at the HappyVale Hotel in Mornington Crescent have suffered windows opening to raw sewageTenants at the HappyVale Hotel in Mornington Crescent have suffered windows opening to raw sewage

Residents have had to suffer raw sewage, leaking ceilings, breakfasts interrupted by cockroaches and a constant smell of stale cigarettes.

Two weeks ago, Stephen Gethin, the landlord of the HappyVale Hotel in Harrington Square, Mornington Crescent, was fined £13,000 and deemed unfit to manage a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

With the welfare of “some very vulnerable residents” in mind, Cllr Julian Fulbrook, Camden’s cabinet member for housing, said the prosecution “sent a very clear signal that we will not tolerate this kind of situation”.

But questions have also been raised over the support given to the destitute residents who live at the HappyVale Hotel.

The room of one of the tenants seen by Camden Council's adul social care team during a visit to the HappyVale Hotel last ThursdayThe room of one of the tenants seen by Camden Council's adul social care team during a visit to the HappyVale Hotel last Thursday

Several are vulnerable adults sent by charities or religious organisations for housing. One woman on anti-psychotic drugs roams the corridors “like a zombie”, it is said.

Another pensioner suffering from kidney and heart failure lives ankle-deep in his own filth, and a retired Transport for London worker can barely speak and is thought to have suffered an as-yet undiagnosed stroke.

Ken Macleod, a diabetic, lived for months with soiled bandages and ulcers infected with faeces before the Ham&High called an ambulance for him two weeks ago.

All live at the HappyVale, yet beyond seeing their landlord fined for safety violations, none say they have been offered any care or support from authorites – until last week.

Betty, a resident left unable to cook for herself due to the side-effects of anti-psychotic drugs she is injected with every week, said: “After what happened to Ken they came and asked us all questions, about what kind of help we might need and to assess us. It’s the first time I’ve seen them.”

Following the Ham&High’s report about pensioner Mr Macleod the head of the adult social care team at Camden Council visited the five-storey townhouse with two social workers last Thursday.

The investigation resulted in several residents immediately being offered support for the first time – including Vicky Barker, a former TfL worker who stopped speaking properly over two years ago and is thought to have suffered a stroke.

Residents insisted the only person who had helped them over the years had been their landlord – responsible for the conditions at the bedsit-style hotel. Four residents even appeared at the landlord’s court case to support him.

“He takes care of people when they need it, feeds residents and even clothes those who aren’t looking after themselves properly,” explained resident Mary.

Following the visit, a council spokesman said: “None of the tenants currently housed at HappyVale were known to our adult social care services. However, help and support was offered to a number of residents after speaking with them. We cannot force people to engage with our services but will continue to make ourselves available should they wish to take up our offers in future.”

Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust is responsible for those suffering mental health difficulties.

Mr Gethin, who took over the hotel from his mother who bought it 80 years ago, blamed loan repayments for his failure to make repairs. “For the first time the council has sent some people who seem to genuinely want to help the residents. The rest have just come to fine me and they didn’t care about the people actually living here.”

“I want to do repairs but I need financial support to do them.”

Latest News Stories

Saturday, May 2, 2015
The scooter was in collision with a car driven by a member of the public

A teenager hospitalised after his scooter collided with another vehicle while being pursued by Camden police remains in critical condition.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
Steve McQueen's Porsche 917 driven at Le Mans.

The roar and growls of supercar engines will soon get pulses racing as St John’s Wood gears up for its annual supercar pageant – this year in association with the Ham&High and its sister title the Wood&Vale.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
Royal fans celebrate outside the Lindo Wing entrance at St Mary's Hospital after reports from Kensington Palace announced the born of a baby girl (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a girl - with mother and baby both doing well, Kensington Palace has announced.

Saturday, May 2, 2015
Tim McArthur with Hi-de-Hi! star Su Pollard at Lauderdale House. Picture: Polly Hancock

The star of 1980s sitcom Hi-de-Hi! has given her support to a £2.1million fundraising campaign to restore a historic Highgate house.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

The latest North London property news and features straight into your inbox.

Other Emails:
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Pop on the most stylish eyewear around from Specsavers.

London eyecare specialists Specsavers are offering London24 readers the chance to win a £150 voucher to spend on stylish eyewear in the city.

Two phones. Same phone case. Genius.

To celebrate the launch of the first luxury dual phone case, PearPeel, we are giving away two of the black leather Rocha cases, perfect for holding two iPhone 6 handsets.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder