PHOTOS: Tenant confronts landlord over ‘death trap’ Sheffield house
A Sheffield landlord has been confronted on his doorstep by a tenant who accuses him of leaving his family living in appalling conditions.
Mahmood Khan, who lives with his wife and son on Birdwell Road in Grimesthorpe, confronted Shafiqul Alam Choudhury at his Ecclesfield home, along with people from tenants rights organisation ACORN.
Mr Khan claims this was his last resort after the landlord repeatedly ignored requests to carry out urgent repairs, leaving them without a kitchen for six weeks and having to put up with unsanitary, damp and dangerous conditions.
“When the council served him an improvement notice last year, we thought he’d pull his finger out,” said Mr Khan, whose name we have change to protect his identity.
“The council went quiet and Mr Choudhury was ignoring me. So turning up as a group to confront and embarrass him was the only thing we had left. It shouldn’t have come to this.”
Mr Khan said the house had been in a state of decline for nearly a decade and photos of the property give an indication of just how bad it has got, with ACORN describing the property as a ‘death trap’.
After Sheffield Council’s private housing standards department issued improvement notices in November, identifying 29 violations of housing law in the property, the landlord sent round builders, claiming that repairs would finally be carried out.
But instead, the builders simply ripped out the kitchen and never returned.
In addition to the problem with the kitchen, which they haven’t been able to use for six weeks, the family have also had to put up with mould, damp and leaks, dangerous rotten beams in the bathroom and an exposed gas pipe running along a skirting board.
The house also has huge holes in the wall, peeling wallpaper, exposed electrics ‘fixed’ with plastic tape and there is no handrail on the rotting stairs.
Mahmood, who says his landlord has even attempted to plaster one wall with his bare hands, says he cannot easily move because the house is close to his father who the family care for, as well as his son’s school.
A video shared on ACORN’s Facebook page shows Mr Choudhury accusing Mr Khan of not allowing him access to the property and saying he should ‘be patient’.
However, later that night Mr Khan was called by builders with work due to start last Saturday.
Hugo Garvey, an ACORN leader, said: “Mahmood’s house is near Page Hall, but falls outside the selective licensing scheme that Sheffield Council established nearby.
“ACORN believes that the council should take strong action against landlords like Mr Choudhury by rolling out licensing across the city.
“This scheme already exists just yards from Mahmood’s home, where it has forced landlords to spend over £1 million on repairs, and is being rolled out on London and Abbeydale Road.
Jamie Sims, branch communications officer, said: “This case shows the power of organised tenants to take on rogue landlords, but it also shows the urgent need for Sheffield City Council to bring in a citywide licensing scheme.”
When challenged by The Star about the repairs, Mr Choudhury said he was happy to do any work that was required on the house, but needed the tenant to let him know about any problems and allow him access to the house.
He said the work would start ‘soon’ and that he was waiting to hear back from a new builder about how long it was going to take and how much it would cost.
And he added he was prepared to arrange alternative accommodation for Mr Mahmood and his family while the work was carried out, if required.
Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “It’s very important for all private rented properties to be well-maintained so that they are safe and pleasant to live in for all private sector tenants.
“We identified a number of hazards at this property and have served an improvement notice on the landlord. Work had to start by 12 December 2018 and by the 5 December 2018 a new boiler had been fitted so the heating is now working fully.
“Fitting the new kitchen and the other works detailed on the improvement notice will take a little longer because qualified electricians have specified that the property requires a full re-wire. Once this has been done the other work can take place.
“We are continuing to monitor the progress to make sure that the right improvements are made within agreed timescales.
“Failure to comply with an improvement notice is a criminal offence. If such an offence is committed then we will explore alternative enforcement options.”