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My sister's problem landlord

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My sister is 18, and lives with her boyfriend in Birmingham, in a bedsit. She has had no hot water or heating for the 8-10 weeks. She said that they got in touch with someone official and they sent the landlord a letter, telling him he had to get the hot water and heating running. Still nothing.


My sister,s boyfriend has not paid any rent to him for about 2 months now, until he gets it sorted. I asked my sister to get the contract so I could have a look, and she said she never got one! They don't even have a rent book. The bedsit is in my sisters boyfriends name, but the landlord got my sis to sign the tenancy agreement, saying her signature would be fine.


There's been no lighting in the kitchen for 3 months either. It's a strip light, and landlord said he'd sort it. My sis has to cook with a torch. The landlord has his mates turn up every now and then to play poker in the living room! She overheard the landlord saying to one of the other housemates that, he'd get the rent of them, you watch! I'll do whatever it takes! I've told her to just get away from there, but she has nowhere to go. They did pay a deposit, but I should imagine they can kiss goodbye to that.


The landlord is asian, and my sister says that there is a constant stream of different asian men in the house. She's the only white girl in a very asian community, and often tells us she's scared, and some of the disgusting things these men say to her, make me want to go down and drag her out of that place. Her boyfriend is a decent lad though, and takes no messing.


I'm just wondering where she stands tenancy agreement wise, and witholding the rent until the heating is on. She said she reckons that he isn't even a legal landlord. Says a lot of dodgy flats and bedsits are in the same road, all owned by him.


She's going to see a bedsit this week, and is scared that if she gets it, this landlord is going to, basically, hunt them down for money, and be aggressive about it.

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Ok, this is awful for the poor kid. Firstly, I would suggest that she contacts the local Environmental Health Officer at the LA, again. She can go in and see them and explain that she is afraid. I can tell you that the lighting in the kitchen is a complete no no, very dangerous. Ditto the heating/hot water, essential services. And I wonder how many other little problems they will find when they go through the house with a toothcomb. And, depending on what they find, they'll likely turn their attention toother properties he owns. He could be tied up with them for quite some time.


I don;t want anyone here to consider i am being rascist when i say the next thing because i am not, however, I think everyone accepts that we all have different beliefs and cultures. If I were you and if you are able, i would do all that you can to get your sister out of that situation immediately. As a HO I would not consider her safe where she is. I say this from experience, it is a fact that SOME Asian gentleman lust after non-Asian women, note I say LUST, not RESPECT. I know this because I work in communities that are almost soley Asian, or African etc., and I have had so many complaints from young female tenants who have to live within these communities that they suffer harassment to a great degree. A sort of harassment that perhaps an Asian lady would not get. I don;t really want to say anymore because you have to be so careful what you do say nowadays, so lets just say that there is a vast culture difference here, and i would consider your sister at risk. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence will know exactly what I am trying to get across here. I am NOT saying that we can;t all live together happily, because we can if we try.


But back to the practicalities, your sister, and boyfriend will have a tenancy of some sort, whether they have a copy of the agreement or not, and of course, if they have paid a deposit, it should have been protected. What I would do is book an appt either at Shelter, or your local authority homeless unit - actually do both. Shelter for action and assistance re the tenancy agreement and deposit, and the LA, just so they are aware (they may all ready be aware) of this landlord and what is going on. And at the back of my mind, something is nagging me about young people who need housing and the homeless persons act, so it may be very well worth a visit for advice.


Your sister needs to keep very quiet about moving out - I wouldn;t normally tell anyone to disappear and not give the notice required, but sometimes you just have to put human safety first, and I don't think your sister is safe where she currently is. She'll need to choose her time to do it, so perhaps she should take the new bedsit, and very gradually start moving her belongings in. She should tell no-one where she is going, and I wouldn;t even suggest having the post redirected either, mistakes can happen with the PO, and you don't want this man to find her., after what she overheard.


I would also recommend that she finds out who her local beat officer is, and goes to see them just to make them aware of what she heard, what has been going on, and how frightened she is about being traced and threatened - after all she's only just out of childhood legally, so the officers will listen to her and advise accordingly, she is a vulnerable young person. If she;s at all worried about that, ask her to book an appt with the Domestic Violence officer, who is usually female. The point of it, in addition to a layer of protection your sister, is that a trail of evidence is being created, so if anything were to happen in the future, it is all on record. And sometimes, these police officers can have great influence over LA's when it comes to reasons for urgent rehousing. Well worth a try.


I'd like to tell your sister to stick up for herself and cause him inordinate amounts of trouble, however, I accept that she is very young and vulnerable and won't be able to cope with this, I doubt if she has my temper, or the confidence to know her rights and see that she gets them.


Safety must come first, so she needs to get out of there now.


I do hope this gets sorted quickly, you must be worried sick about her.

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Can she stay with you till the bedsit news comes through. Then get a few of your friends round and move her as soon as. Preferably from local gym. Even ask the local police to watch as she moves. When you are out get in touch with council enforcement team and fire inspection team, to inspect the property. It probably hasnt got a certificate as required since October. Maybe help someone else. SHELTER,as above poster said get in touch with and put your sister on the council housing list. Sooner or later something will come up.Tawnyowl.

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