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

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 Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

49 minutes ago

Crime campaigners fear gang warfare is spilling onto the leafy streets of Hampstead and Belsize Park after two shootings and a knife attack this month.

Yesterday, 14:39

Staff will trace Lord Lauderdale’s steps on the journey he may have taken to visit his mistress before Lauderdale House opens once more

Yesterday, 12:12

The mixed pond on Hampstead Heath will be ‘women only’ for two weeks in October after management confirmed the ladies’ pond will close so that work can be carried out.

Yesterday, 09:57

Police were called at around 23.20pm to reports of a gunshot last week but there have been no arrests made so far

Yesterday, 07:00

A vigil is to be held at the spot where much-loved Heath character Sheila Karsberg was tragically killed after being hit by a cement mixer in Camden.

Mon, 18:21

Both of Camden’s Labour MPs who backed Owen Smith in the leadership contest have called for party unity as speculation mounts over whether they will serve on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench team if invited.

Mon, 18:05

Police figures show the number of drivers who use mobile phones behind the wheel is on the rise.

Mon, 17:06

The suspect apparently had nothing in which to stash the money and left a trail of cash as he left

PROMOTED CONTENT

Interested in purchasing a flat and want to know the rules, rights and regulations as a leaseholder? Or maybe you are already a leaseholder and want to find out more about extending your lease?

Scores of people visited the opening of Composite Door Master’s first public showroom in Hayes at the weekend, where they were treated to a spectacular show by award winning magician, Marc Oberon.

You’ve got cash, you’ve got style and you’ve got a bursting social calendar, but no time. These Crouch End studio suites to rent could be your dream come true.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now