The millionaire and Turkish princess behind squalid Norwich flats
PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:41 10 October 2018
The family behind a scandal-hit apartment block live a life of luxury and are members of the Turkish Royal family – while their tenants live in damp and dangerous flats.
On Monday the city council ordered all 25 tenants to leave a 41-room apartment block at 60 St Faith’s Lane as the building is in such a poor state.
When we visited yesterday, the walls of the flats’ corridors near Prince of Wales Road were covered in mould from leaking raw sewage. And the fire alarms do not work properly, making it unsafe for tenants to live there, the council said.
Three companies linked to the apartments are also being chased for £130,000 in unpaid bills.
Meanwhile the landlords – married couple Nick and Ayse Sutton – are millionaire property developers, connected to the Turkish Royal family.
Mrs Sutton owns a £7m mansion in Sussex which the singer Adele once rented.
Ayse, whose maiden name is Osmanoglu, is a princess of the Turkish Royal Family which once ruled the Ottoman Empire.
She describes herself as an interior designer and calls herself Princess Ayse Sutton on Companies House where she is a director and shareholder, along with her husband, of a firm called Imperial Property Company (Holdings) Ltd.
That firm is the majority shareholder of Faiths Lane Apartments Ltd which owns the Norwich flats.
In 2004 Mrs Sutton bought a mansion in Horsham, East Sussex, for around £2m, set in 84 acres.
Photos from an estate agent’s website shows the property has two swimming pools, a three-bedroom flat for servants as well as an “extensive and luxuriously appointed” master bedroom. The agents valued the property at more than £7m.
A family portrait online of the Suttons and their five children shows them in Royal dress with Mrs Sutton wearing a crown.
In contrast when we visited St Faith’s Lane, where the Suttons’ company has repeatedly failed to carry out repairs ordered by the city council, the corridor and doors of the basement flats were covered in thick mould from a leak of sewage.
There was a stench of damp throughout the downstairs of the building.
One tenant, who pays almost £600 a month in rent, said she was happy the council was getting all the residents out.
She said her toilet did not work when she moved in but the management company at the flats, Sutton Management, which is also owned by Nick Sutton, did not respond to her.
“The only time I would get a response was saying please pay your rent,” she said.
Another tenant, who left the mouldy basement flats at the end of September, said dirty water did not drain from his bathroom and electricity cut out meaning he could not cook.
Despite asking the landlord since February to carry out fix hazards in the building, including the electrics, the work has not been done.
It led the city council to taking the unprecedented step of getting a prohibition order on the flats on Monday, meaning the tenants have 28 days to leave.
They will be given help to find new homes and compensation of almost £50,000 by the council.
The council will attempt to get money off the landlord in fines.
But the Suttons’ firms are already being chased for tens of thousands of pounds.
Sutton Management, Faiths Lane Apartments, and a third company called Max Estates, owned by Nick and Ayse, owe almost £130,000 in unpaid County Court Judgements dating back to 2014.
Sutton Management owes around £64,000 to 15 people, Max Estates £63,000 to 34 people and Faiths Lane Apartments owes £1800 to two parties.
A cleaning firm at the apartments also contacted this newspaper yesterday saying they had not been paid £1,000 by Sutton Management.
Last year traders also said they were owed money by Sutton Management for work they did at St Faith’s.
Max Estates, meanwhile, featured on BBC One show Rip Off Britain last year accused of not returning deposits to tenants.
The Suttons met at Exeter University and began making money by redeveloping old buildings before selling them on.
In 2003 Mr Sutton attempted to develop Fulham Football Club’s ground, Craven Cottage, into flats but the deal turned sour.
And in 2013 his firm Imperial Property Company (London) Limited, which owned and developed hotels, collapsed into administration owing millions of pounds.
Nick Sutton has been contacted for comment.
•Why are taxpayers picking up the bill?
The landlord’s failure to repair hazards in the flats, means, the council said, it has little choice but to get people out for their own safety.
To do that the council had to get something called a prohibition order from magistrates on Monday which gives them power to remove tenants.
But as the council is carrying out the action, it, and not the landlord, is liable to pay compensation to the tenants for removing them.
The residents left in the block are getting a total of around £50,000 in compensation.
Of the 41 flats, 25 are occupied. Those who have lived there less than a year will get around £1,000, while those who have been there more than a year can get up to £6,300.
The council has issued four fines against the landlord, Faiths Lane Apartments, and its director Nick Sutton, of five-figure sums.
But they have not been paid yet.
October 2017: Tenants complain about deposits not being returned by landlord at 60 St Faith’s Lane
October 2017: Tradesmen who have worked at the flats say they are owed thousands of pounds by the management company at the block, Sutton Management
December 2017: City Council orders landlord to give some tenants electric heaters after visit shows cold, damp conditions in some rooms
February 2018: The council issues improvement notices to the landlord, after identifying hazards in the building, including with the electrics and heating. They order him to carry out repairs.
August 2018: A tenant videos and photos water pouring down the walls and corridor in her basement flat
October 2018: With work still not done the council gets a prohibition order on the building, ordering all tenants to leave within 28 days so work can be carried out. It is not clear who will pay for that work.