James Little was doing well in 1933. He had recently bought Crossbasket House in High Blantyre and owned many properties and businesses around Blantyre and in other towns. A large part of James’s income was through letting out his properties. His rental income would have been considerable, but it was when I was writing my Crossbasket book, I found, that at times, his collection of rent, was not always done legally!
For example, in February 1933, James believing himself to be in the right, sued a Motherwell man, for not paying him rent. The court heard of an astonishing agreement that would certainly have been an eye-opener for anybody in Blantyre renting a house from James. The problem was wording embedded in the small print of the rental contracts.
Norman Fyffe, railway driver, who later moved to Shields Road, Motherwell, and at the time of the rent collection was living at 111 Stonefield Road was in arrears. James Little maintained that Norman owned him £20 as arrears of rent for the house at Little’s Cottages, Stonefield Road, Blantyre. (across from Larkfield bing.) During the hearing of evidence it was stated that in order to have possession the house, Fyffe signed agreement to actually purchase the house, which was of one room and kitchen, with a scullery. The contract explained that weekly rent would be paid, but a small percentage of it would be set aside by James Little, saving up for Norman to actually purchase the house later. The agreement stated that if the rental fell into arrears at any time, it meant all the previous payments would be forfeited to James! A little like a mortgage, but one if you can imagine where the BANK kept all the money, if you missed a payment.
A scandalous suggestion and one which I’m sure people would NOT have signed up to if they had read that detail. Of course though, the law was on James’s side as a written and signed contract existed, the signatures proof of the parties agreement. The situation was accepted and James was sent on his way, clearly with Norman moving away from Blantyre altogether. However, the court not satisfied at the events, prompted a review into the rental agreements of properties throughout Lanarkshire. This case, is not isolated and James Little’s name comes up several times in similar circumstances. Pictured are Little’s Cottages, Stonefield Road in more modern times, each house now converted to have an upstairs.
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