Ten years without a bed for council tenant forced to ‘live like a dog’
A 62-year-old man is mounting a legal case against Camden Council after claiming he has been forced to “live like a dog” for more than a decade camping on the floor of his damp-ridden flat.
Charles Baker, of Priory Road, in West Hampstead, has not slept on a soft mattress for 10 years.
The asthma sufferer said the rising water levels in the walls and ceiling of his council home have made it impossible to settle in one room resulting in him having to move to stop his condition from deteriorating.
Mr Baker, who moved into the flat in 1990, has had to hoard all of his valuables – including antiques left to him by his late aunt – into the one dry room in his home.
He said: “I am so ill because I am in that flat every night. I have tried sleeping in every room – even the kitchen.
“I ended up using one of those things that you put down in a tent because what’s the point of buying a bed when you have to move things from room to room. Ten years since I have not slept in a bed – a person in this day and age and so-called civilised society should not have to live like that.” He has sought legal advice from Mary Ward Legal Centre, in Holborn and is preparing a dossier of evidence to file a claim for compensation against the council through the civil courts.
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Mr Baker’s lawyer claims he could receive between �5-�10,000 in compensation.
The council has given the flat a makeover twice in 12 years because of leaks and the damp, but officials have only recently offered to rehouse Mr Baker in Belsize Avenue, Belsize Park. The move is yet to materialise.
He said: “The council should not be allowed to get away with this.
“Some people cannot stand up for themselves and I dread to think what they do get away with.
“Why should you have to take legal action to have somewhere to live?”
A council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the long-standing repair problems in Mr Baker’s property.
“Certain repairs are required which mean that Mr Baker cannot remain in occupation.
“Work is required to the block to resolve the cause of the damp, and this has meant that we had to carry out consultation with leaseholders.
“We are working hard to find an alternative property for Mr Baker to move into on a temporary basis so that we can start the repair work.”