The Tenants Taking on Their Billionaire Landlord

Novara Media, July 2020

Jordan Osserman was knocking on doors in his east London apartment block in late April, asking his neighbours about their rental situations during the pandemic, when he noticed he was being filmed by a security guard hiding behind a stack of boxes. A few days later he was holding a banner saying “food not rent” when he noticed that, once again, he was being filmed.

“I asked [the security guard] why he was filming and he told me his job was to see what I was doing and report back to the agency,” says Osserman, who is an organiser with his local tenants’ association, the Somerford Grove Renters. “It was really scary.”

A month before he realised he was being surveilled, Osserman and 108 others had sent a letter to their letting agent, Tower Quay, asking for no evictions, a 20% rent reduction during the Covid-19 crisis and no retaliation.

Tenants signed the letter from three adjacent buildings, all owned by billionaire property tycoon John Christodoulou. As a landlord, Christodoulou has a track record of controversy, including spending £74,000 trying to block the formation of a residents’ association in one of his properties.

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