Last week local Labour campaigners Nikki Coles and Kirsty Mellor went to visit a young mum in Fratton, who got in touch with us to share her experiences of renting after learning that the Lib Dems and Tories failed to back our plans to license all landlords in the city.
The accommodation she currently rents has many faults and significant issues, including loud and disruptive pipes, which she reported in August 2017 – over two years ago – but the agent couldn’t locate the landlord, so the fault wasn’t dealt with.
In August 2018, her radiator fell off the wall just missing injuring her 5yr old child. She immediately contacted the out-of-hours number and someone came to remove it, but only left it in her garden. Five days later, she’d still had no response from either the agent or the landlord.
Fratton campaigner Nikki Coles said: “When I saw the pictures of the radiator lying on the floor I was utterly shocked. Being a mum with young kids myself I was horrified at the thought of a child being trapped under the weight of iron radiator. For me this case highlights the exact reason why we called for all landlords in the city to be licensed”.
On another occasion, loose concrete fell from the roof, but the agent said they couldn’t make any further repairs without permission from the landlord who they were unable to contact. The agent left her no other option but to contact the council.
The council came round to audit the property, deemed several issues unsafe and told her it was the landlord’s responsibility to deal with them. At this time there had still been no communication from the landlord and the agent was still unable to contact him. However, the council eventually got hold of him and said that if he didn’t carry out the necessary repairs they would have the work done themselves and charge him for it – the landlord then authorised the agent to do some of the work.
But as tenant, she had received no communication or concern from the landlord leaving her and her young family full of worry and uncertainty, with the added anxiety of living in a property deemed unsafe by the council.
The agent did send people to remove the concrete roof pieces, but there was a clear lack of concern as a gaping hole was left in the ceiling. Other repairs were undertaken, including fitting the windows with safety locks, repairing electrics and several doors, but it was clear this was being done cheaply and the quality of the work was unsatisfactory.
The tenant approached a solicitor regarding the council audit and they managed to contact the landlord. However, communication from the landlord and agent was confusing and both gave conflicting information on the different courses of action to be taken.
In April 2019, the agent advised the tenant that the landlord had decided to put the property on the market, but she hasn’t heard anything since. She’s had no information about eviction and is just trying to take things a day at a time, coping with the fear of losing the roof over her family’s head and worrying about having the security of a house in the near future. The whole experience has had a significant affect on the family who just want a safe warm home to live in.
Local campaigner Kirtsy Mellor added: “It’s clear, some letting agents are letting out unsafe properties putting renters at risk. Certain landlords are not fulfilling their responsibilities to either their properties or, more importantly, their tenants”.
You can share your experiences with us below or get in touch with the team via the contact details on the ‘get in touch’ page and we will be more than happy to help.