An estate agent managing a block of flats in Stamford Hill has apologised to Jewish residents after requesting they take down mezuzahs or the pay costs of removal.
Warwick Estates, which manages Cedarwood Court by Clapton Common, retracted a letter acknowledging they had been “overzealous” and not in keeping with its business values on Monday.
Hackney’s mayor Philip Glanville described the incident as “very insensitive and distressing” for residents.
Charedi representatives labelled the action “open religious discrimination”.
Stamford Hill-based Jewish Community Council said in a statement that the agents should have researched the meaning of the mezuzah before causing pain and hurt to the Jewish community.
The organisation was deeply worried and concerned about the intentions behind the order.
“Nobody in any community should ever feel discriminated against because of their religion. This kind of behaviour must be stamped out,” they noted in a statement.
Over 20 residents complained after receiving a take-down notice stating any mezuzah on a door was against terms of the lease and had to remove.
The letter asked for immediate action or they would act on behalf of the freeholder.
Charges would be applied to an offending leaseholder’s account.
The Essex-based company have since apologised for the letter sent out.
They noted, “We apologise for the letter sent to some of our customers asking them to remove religious items from their property, specifically their Mezuzahs.
“We wish to make it very clear that residents of the block in question are not required to remove their Mezuzahs and they will certainly not be removed by Warwick Estates or any representatives working on our behalf.
“The letter was sent by the property manager who was attempting to perform his job in line with his interpretation of the lease. The letter was overzealous in its nature and not in keeping with our business values.
“The property manager in question and Warwick Estates are deeply sorry for any offence we have caused to the residents at the development and indeed the wider Jewish community.
“We thank the members of the Jewish community for bringing the matter to our attention and we will ensure that appropriate training takes place so mistakes such as this do not reoccur again.”