'It's been our family home for years and they want to take it away just like that'

Andy and Ithalia Johnson with son Luther, six. The family are facing homelessness after being served with an eviction notice
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo)

A man whose dad campaigned to save a street of houses where Ringo Starr was born is facing eviction from his home on the terrace.

Andy Johnson, 43, was hit with a no fault eviction notice earlier this year, which could leave him, his wife and their six-year-old son homeless in a matter of days.

The controversial section 21 notices are to be abolished later this year, and have previously given landlords powers to evict tenants without any reason.

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Andy's late father, Chris, a well-known journalist in Liverpool, campaigned to save the Welsh Streets in Toxteth from being demolished eight years ago.

They are one of the few remaining 'original' tourist attractions for Beatles fans in the city as they include the birthplace of Fab Four drummer Ringo Starr, who grew up in Madryn Street in the area.

Ringo's former home and hundreds of others in the area, known as the Welsh Streets having been built by Welsh workers, were facing demolition when the community rallied around to save them. They terrace was then restored and revived.

Two years after the homes were saved, Andy, and his wife Ithalia, 46, moved into one of the terraced properties in Voelas Road.

Since then they have had a little boy, Luther, now six, and both work in the community running a charity dance class and a local TV studio for community projects.

But in April this year, the couple received an email from PlaceFirst, which manages the houses, notifying them that they were being evicted.

Andy said: "This is an outrageous situation that thousands of other people across the country are probably facing.

"I've asked the company, what is your policy on making a six year old boy homeless, because that is what you're doing if you evict us."

Andy said the family had fallen behind with their rent during the Covid pandemic, but paid their £2,500 arrears off in full earlier this year. Just weeks later, an email seen by The ECHO from PlaceFirst, described the family as "high risk tenants".

Despite pleas from Andy, the company has refused to revoke the notice.

Andy, Ithalia and Luther - Andy's dad helped save the Welsh Streets from demolition
Andy, Ithalia and Luther - Andy's dad helped save the Welsh Streets from demolition -Credit:Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo

He said: "My dad saved these streets and now we're being kicked out of them. My son has friends here in the community garden, it has been our family home for years and they want to take it away just like that.

"I've tried to plead with them and explain there are sentimental reasons for wanting to stay here after we lost my dad, but they don't care. If they kick us out we will be in a place of hardship."

He added: "We were one of the first three families to move into these houses and we have been an integral part of rebuilding this community. One of the main reasons I want to stay is because my dad fought to save these houses and he passed away."

Placefirst said they had offered Andy's family 'many chances for late payment'. But Andy said he had attempted to contact the company to discuss his payment plan and was repeatedly ignored.

A spokesperson for Placefirst said: “We understand that a rental agreement ending is difficult news to hear. We appreciate that there may be times of financial difficulty that impact rental payments and as such, we work closely with our tenants to amicably settle any late payment of rent as a priority.

“However, in this case, the tenant had been in significant arrear and despite offering many chances for late payment, full payment was only made following being served a Section 21 notice.

“Regrettably in this instance, the arrears remained unpaid far beyond a reasonable period. As such, in line with our standard procedure, we have not withdrawn the notice.”

Andy says he has the backing of Liverpool City Councillors and is determined to fight the eviction.

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