Branch Secretary :

‘Stop the evictions! Drop the debts!’ Housing protest April 17th

Refugee fights multimillion-pound letting firm’s claim for thousands in rent on vacated room


Unite housing workers support the day of protest: ‘Stop the evictions! Drop the debts!’ Saturday 17 April 2021, starting at 1pm, Boundary Estate, east London – see here.


We also support a range of events on Saturday – video here



Simply unable to pay


A refugee is campaigning against her former letting company’s claim for thousands of pounds on a room she had already left.


Latha Lawanya Ramajeyam (32), a Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka, was forced to leave her accommodation by the legal costs of her asylum case last year. After writing to her multiple-occupancy letting firm City Rooms explaining the situation, Lawanya vacated the room in Tower Hamlets, east London.




However, due to the contract’s lack of a ‘break clause’, City Rooms is now pursuing Lawanya through the courts for £2,849.98. This is a sum Lawanya, who recently won legal refugee status, says she is simply unable to pay.


“If I had thousands of pounds to spare, I would have stayed in the room rather than having to go couch surfing,” said Lawanya. “I didn’t have the money, which is why I left. I don’t have it now.


“There is a pandemic happening. Many people are in housing crisis. Homeowners have mortgage holidays and tenant evictions were supposed to be suspended. Many people have no job.


City rooms negative reviews


“Why is a big company like City Rooms trying to bully me through the courts for money I don’t have and can’t get? It is immoral and irrational.”


Lawanya maintains that she barely has enough to survive week to week. City Rooms’ last filing at Companies House declared an annual turnover of £20,979,710, with six-figure net profits, shareholder dividends and cash reserves.


City Rooms has over a hundred negative reviews on customer review site and more on travel site Former tenants complain of unsafe, dirty accommodation in ill repair and with poor service.


With Citizens Advice estimating that one in seven London private renters are in arrears, and the government’s eviction ban due to end on 31 May, the housing crisis is once more on the agenda. Supporters of Lawanya will join other housing campaigners in a day of protests on Saturday 17 April.


Lawanya has a record of campaigning for justice. As an organiser with Tamil Solidarity and the Refugee Rights Campaign, she has spent years advocating policies including the right to work, mass council house building and an end to the government’s “hostile environment”.


“This is just another example of the hostile environment. It’s hostile to all working-class and young people who have to rent. But it’s doubly hostile to migrants and refugees.


“We don’t have the financial and family support networks here. We often have language barriers. Super-exploitative landlords and property companies think they can just push us around. I have had enough and I am fighting back.”


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