Tenants have no central heating over winter at these city centre flats
PUBLISHED: 08:52 30 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:16 30 December 2017
Tenants in problem-hit city centre flats have to get through the winter without any working central heating, while mould grows around windows and smoke alarms fail.
It is the latest in a series of problems reported by people renting in the 47 flats at 60 St Faith’s Lane in Norwich.
In room 101, Lloyd Gladding has not had heating since he moved in three months ago - despite paying more than £1,000 a month in rent and bills for the two-bedroom flat and a £2,000 deposit.
There are radiators in the flat but they do not work. He and his flatmate have relied on an electric heater given to them by Mr Gladding’s granddad to keep warm.
There are also large amounts of mould around the single-glazed windows and the flat smells of damp.
Mr Gladding said he has had an almost constant cold since moving in.
Finally losing patience with the landlord, whom he has repeatedly complained to, the 21-year-old support worker contacted Norwich City Council just before Christmas.
They visited the flats in the block off Prince of Wales Road with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and found several problems including a lack of heating and insulation. The council asked the landlord to give tenants electric heaters over Christmas which they have now done.
Mr Gladding also said the smoke alarm in his flat was not working and fire alarms frequently go off in the building meaning they are ignored by residents.
But no “immediate fire risks” were identified when Norwich City Council inspected, according to a council spokesman.
The council said it was going to ask the landlord to make improvements in the new year, but the problems at the flats have long been known.
A previous investigation by this newspaper found tenants’ deposits were not being returned and they had no legal right to get the deposits back because of the type of rental contract they had signed.
Residents in 60 St Faith’s had signed a “licence to occupy” instead of a tenancy agreement meaning they had weaker legal rights when it came to getting deposits returned.
Previous residents have also complained of serious mould and damp in the flats, a lack of hot water and heating and frequent power cuts.
Residents also said they pay for wi-fi but do not get internet either.
Mr Gladding said tenants have to go to the fusebox in the basement to switch power back on after frequent power cuts.
He said he chose the flat because of the location and the mould and damp was not there before he moved in. “It looked like a good flat,” he said. “They told us when we moved in the heating would be fixed.”
A spokesperson for Norwich City Council said: “Members of our private sector housing team carried out a risk assessment with a member of Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service following concerns from residents.
“While no immediate fire risks were identified, we have requested that the landlord provides a temporary heating service over the Christmas period, before a permanent solution is found in the New Year.
“The review of the report is ongoing, and further improvements may be required.”
Garry Collins, Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service community safety manager, said: “We are working with other regulators to ensure fire safety standards are suitable and sufficient.”
Norwich City Council gave the owner of the block of flats, Max Estates, a company London property developer Nick Sutton is the sole director of, permission in 2012 to convert it from offices to an “apart-hotel”. It meant it could run as a hotel or temporary accommodation but residents were not meant to live there as their main or sole home.
Yet residents are staying there long term but they are unable to register to vote.
In October, the council’s planning committee voted to allow the landlord to turn the building into 41 permanent resident flats.
Max Estates has not responded to our requests for comment.