The owners of the former Red Lion pub on Southampton Street, renamed Kobanî House by its new occupants, have failed in their first attempt to evict the building’s residents. Reading County Court dismissed the application for an interim possession order (IPO) on 3 December because the landlord had not followed the correct service procedure.
Solicitors acting for the building’s owner Vogue Assets attempted to use an IPO which would have rendered the squatters open to criminal prosecution if they did not vacate the premises within 24 hours of the notice being served on them.
The judge dismissed the application, saying that the claim for possession had not been correctly served at the Red Lion, and the service certificate submitted to court had not been signed. The landlord’s solicitors protested that the squatters were trespassing and the building was unsafe and the judge had to repeatedly remind them that “the rules are mandatory.”
The IPO is only effective within 28 days of a squat becoming known to a landlord, and so cannot be pursued further in this case. The judge added that the squatters were trespassing, the landlord now needed to make a claim for possession, and adjourned the hearing until later in December.
The new residents of Kobani House opened the former Red Lion pub as a Kurdish community centre at the end of October 2019.
The building had been vacant since at least since December 2017, when Vogue Assets submitted (and then withdrew) their first planning application. In August 2019, Reading Borough Council permitted their latest application to demolish the former Red Lion and replace it with flats.
A different group of squatters from the current residents had to be rescued from the building in January 2017 when they accidentally set fire to it.