‘Vicar’s threats to evict me are making my life hell’ claims Hackney Wick florist

Hoi Li. Picture: Liz Seabrook

Hoi Li. Picture: Liz Seabrook - Credit: Liz Seabrook

A florist has accused a vicar of putting her through “hell”, after she threatened to change the locks of the shop she leases off the church and evict her.

Serendipity Botanist in the courtyard of St Mary of Eton in Hackney Wick.

Serendipity Botanist in the courtyard of St Mary of Eton in Hackney Wick. - Credit: Serendipity Botanist

Hoi Li, 29, has run her business Serendipity Botanist from a unit in the courtyard of St Mary of Eton in Hackney Wick for four years - but now its vicar Sue Makin has taken legal action to kick her out.

The vicar claims that Ms Li has not paid her rent, but Ms Li claims her rent has always been paid on time.

She claims the dispute centres over payment of a service charge the church committee agreed to waiver on the understanding that no services like water, electricity, sewage or building insurance are provided. But Ms Li claims Rev Makin wants to backdate service charge payments.

In a statement Rev Makin, who threatened to change the locks within 31 days if Ms Li did not vacate the unit in a solicitor's letter, said: "It is a source of personal regret to me that, despite our best efforts, the discussions surrounding the signing of a formal lease to renew the occupancy of Serendipity Botanist florists have not yet been resolved.

Sue Makin.

Sue Makin. - Credit: Serendipity Botanist

"As a result of missed deadlines, longstanding overdue rent payments and clear breaches of the heads of terms agreement over the period of the occupation, it is unfortunately no longer sustainable for St Mary-of-Eton to continue with the occupation without the provision of a formal lease.

"In our efforts to reach a satisfactory outcome for all involved, we have offered significant concessions, including the omission of service charges."

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Ms Li told the Gazette she delayed signing a new lease because of the "disadvantaged terms and conditions" which negated her rights under the Landlord and Tenants' Act of 1954.

The situation is in a legal stalemate with Ms Li instructing solicitors of her own, who have warned Rev Makin any attempts to recover possession of the premises would be "unlawful".

Ms Li has not been able to work for the past month because of the situation.

"I can't have the shop stocked up because I can't afford to lose the stock if she changes the locks," she said. "You can't run a business based on so much uncertainty.

"This exchange with Sue has caused tremendous emotional distress. It made me realise Hell is not a specific place but infliction by certain people."

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