Dismay at Wigan tenants who are '˜not paying up'

The friends of an ailing Wigan pensioner who is owed thousands of pounds in rent have slammed his tenants for 'preying on a frail, vulnerable man'.

Thursday, 26th April 2018, 11:25 am
Updated Thursday, 26th April 2018, 11:37 am
Eric Johnson

Neighbours say they are “disgusted” by the treatment of Eric Johnson who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has mobility issues.

Other news: Boy, 14, walks free after brutal attack on Wigan granThe concerned residents, Stephen Green and Tony Frain, have been chasing the tenants living in Eric’s late dad’s Shevington house for almost five months after they have refused to pay their £500-a-month bill.

Stephen, who has joint power-of-attorney for the 77-year-old, said that the stress of losing thousands of pounds is causing his friend’s condition to deteriorate. “They owe Eric around £2,500 so far,” he said.

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“And it’s going to cost him £3,000 in solicitors’ fees to get them out of the house.

“He hasn’t been sleeping because of his condition: stress triggers it off.

“He’s shaking like a jelly all the time.

“They are absolutely taking advantage of his condition and the fact that he’s older.”

Tony explained how Eric, who has no close family, put “too much trust” in the couple when they first moved in, as he had previously let out his late dad’s house without any problems.

He described how the couple, who initially moved in in October 2016, had paid their rent each month for a year before the payments finally stopped last December.

“They’re basically squatters now,” he said.

“They have come occasionally with £50 or £70; they have made a couple of small payments and that’s it.

“They keep saying ‘don’t worry it’s coming’ and saying that they have £40,000 coming to them.

“Eric has been a grafter his entire life.

“He never invested in a pension because this property was his pension, it was his regular income - now he’s not getting that.

“I feel they are preying on an old, frail, vulnerable man, that’s what they are doing.

“This is making him ill.”

Stephen and Tony are hoping that the couple will see sense and pay up before any court proceedings begin.

Eric’s loyal friends have helped to put him in touch with a solicitor who will give him legal aid in getting the couple out of the house.

“I think they are playing the system and they know what they are doing,” said Stephen.

“We even gave them a get out clause and said if they leave in the next 14 days we won’t ask for any of the money back which they owe.

“They will string it out as long as possible until the bailiffs pick the lock and kick them out.

“It’s not right that tenant laws protect people who are refusing to pay and now it’s people like Eric who will end up even more out of pocket.”