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Tenants see sunlight for first time in three years after giant ad removed


Residents in an east London apartment block awoke to sunlight for the first time in three years after a giant advert that covered their windows was pulled down.

Tenants in Kingsland Road, Dalston, have been living in darkness since their landlord sold the sides of the building as advertising space in 2016.

Earlier this week, people living in the 19 households affected told The Independent the advert went up ‘without warning’ and that their concerns have been repeatedly dismissed.

Hours after the story was published, cranes were seen taking the banner down.

The move comes after a cross-party campaign to pressure the landlord to improve living conditions in the building, which residents claimed had leaks and lacked security.

Those living in the building had been placed there temporarily by Hackney Council after reporting themselves as homeless, but found themselves stuck in squalid and dark conditions.

Campaigners said the fact that adverts by multinational companies were hiding the ‘brutal reality’ of urban poverty was a ‘shocking indictment’ of inequality in the 21st century.

Alex Armitage, Green Party candidate for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said:  ‘When your landlord sells the sunlight coming through your window, you know how brutal modern Britain can be.’

The advertising space is owned by Blowup Media, and the latest add to blight the building promoted the iPhone 11.

Residents said they tried to cut holes in the ad to feel less claustrophobic, but were told off by their landlord after the advertising company complained.

Ahmed Mehjoob, whose rent costs £257 per week in housing benefit, said last week: ‘There is no light, no sun, it is blocking us from the outside. It makes you isolated.’

And Sevineh Nazif, 42, said: ‘The landlord said the company had the right to put what they want up there. They’re not bothered. As long as they’re getting money for the advert they don’t care’.

Workers were spotted removing the ad at about 1am on Sunday, but it is not clear who ordered it to be removed.

Hackney Council have been attempting to enforce the banner’s removal over a number of years and took the company to court in 2017 to have it removed, but were unsuccessful.

It is believed the building owners removed it in response to media coverage and public pressure.

The local authority say they are continuing enforcement action to try and get the frame of the advert removed, and have sent a formal notice to the building owner.

They said they housed the vulnerable residents there in 2015 – before the advert was installed – and branded it ‘illegal’.

A Council spokesperson said: ‘These adverts were installed illegally, and the owner’s failure to remove them previously despite previous enforcement attempts by the Council shows not just the greed of some landlords but also the challenges councils face preventing this kind of advertising.

‘We are now investigating the conditions inside the buildings, and will not hesitate to serve notices on the landlord if the homes here fail to meet the standards that we expect and the residents deserve.’

Blowup Media declined to comment.


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