Squatters ‘trash’ man’s Ilford home

A father-of-two was left “traumatised” after his home was wrecked by squatters who caused �20,000 of damage in one month.

Bhajan Channa moved out of his three-bedroom house in Thornton Road, Ilford, to sell it in July and had even secured a buyer, but just weeks later he got a phone call from a neighbour telling him someone had moved in.

“I got the call while at work and was in a state of panic. I had to leave and find out what was going on,” he said.

“There were around 13 women and children there and when I questioned them they just screamed at me, it was terrifying,” he added.

Mr Channa called the police, who were shown a tenancy agreement by the women which later turned out to be a false document.

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“I was allowed to walk around the house with police taking pictures of the damage and things that had been stolen,” said Mr Channa.

“I was traumatised.”

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Mr Channa got an order to possess the property a few weeks later, costing �5,500 which he was unable to claim on insurance, and organised bailiffs to secure the home after being given the green light at Ilford County Court.

“The day before the bailiffs were due to go in my neighbour told me they had left, so I got down there really quickly, broke into my own home and changed the locks,” said Mr Channa.

But several hours later, Roma travellers allegedly tried to get back into the property while Mr Channa hid. “They were banging on the door,” he said.

“It was very scary but eventually they went away.”

In total, the cost of replacing smashed doors, walls, and stolen goods, such as shower taps, came to �20,000.

“I just want to warn people who are selling their homes. I’m letting mine now because I’m too afraid to leave it even for one night,” he said.

Loxford ward Cllr Filly Maravala said: “The laws make it so difficult to do something if squatters do get into a home. We need to send out a message that this will not be tolerated.”

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