A mother who lived with her son in a mould-ridden flat with puddles of water leaking into his bedroom from the flat above said they were ignored by the private landlord and Bristol City Council for five years. Selenawit Asfaha and her son were finally moved out of the house last week (November 30) after a fellow Eritrean in Bristol contacted the Environmental Agency on her behalf.
The Landlord Melvin Walters who owns the Bristol based real estate company, MG Properties Limited told Bristol Live he plans to have the house refurbished. According to the Council due to Mr Walter’s failure to comply with instructions over repairs, damp and mould, Bristol City Council has referred his case to the Licence Enforcement Unit who will determine whether or not to take action against him.
Ms Asfaha and her son recently vacated the ground floor flat but the three bedrooms upstairs are still occupied with tenants despite the ongoing involvement of council officers and a recent inspection of the property from Environmental Health. Ms Asfaha moved into the Easton ground floor flat just off Stapleton Road seven years ago. She continued to live there after her son was born (he is now five) even after the celling caved in and water was leaking into his bedroom.
Ms Asfaha now has asthma, a condition she is certain occurred from living in the ground floor flat she had privately rented from Mr Walters who is believed by the tenants to own several properties in Bristol. She told Bristol Live that the leak began five years ago and she and her son suffered from constant noise throughout that time.
Ms Asfaha said: “The leak started about five years ago. [Mr Walters] said he would fix it but when he came he put in silicone and it would then start again after a few months. The baby couldn’t sleep because there was noise and shouting in the night and sometimes the fire alarm would go off at three in the morning, it was very very bad.
“Many times the health visitor would come and take a picture but nothing would change. I don’t know the rules in the UK and when I asked the landlord for help he ignored me.
“I went to the council but they said they couldn’t do anything because it is a privately rented house. Sometimes I would stay with a friend on the weekend because there were a lot of people coming in and out, drinking and I couldn’t sleep there.
“It was hell for me. I have asthma, I got it from living in this house.
“There is a lot of mould and the house isn’t [secure] so in the winter it’s very cold. In my flat there were mice because my door and the entrance door are not closed.
“There are many shops around the house and the mice would come in every day. My son is not confident and when he hears a noise he immediately runs to me, he is scared.
“I can never move back to this house because it’s not only the house that is a problem but the landlord too. He has ignored everything, when I text and call him he doesn’t answer.
“Then when he does come to the house he uses a key to open my flat in the morning [without warning].
“All the workers have keys and they never change the key so for me it’s very dangerous. It’s not safe for me and my son.
“After five years he hasn’t done anything, it’s terrible for me. I don’t want this landlord because he has no respect, when the ceiling fell down he didn’t answer my calls or messages.”
Solomon Kifle who describes himself as the leader of the Eritrean community in Bristol said he called the Environment Agency himself after being ‘shocked’ by the living conditions Ms Asfaha and her son had to endure. Mr Kifle said: “I was shocked when she first sent me the videos of her house and I contacted the council after she told me they had been ignoring her for five years.
“When the Environmental Health Agency visited they decided to remove her from the house and then things were sorted very quickly. For me it was a priority to get the child out of that house because if the ceiling fell down the kid could die.”
The landlord, Melvin Walters said: “The place needs refurbishing and it was going to be refurbished in January or February anyhow so the tenants would have to move out for the refurbishment but now they will be moving out earlier. There’s two flats and mysteriously water has gone downstairs.”
A spokesperson from Bristol City Council said: “We have continued to provide advice and support to this private tenant in response to their concerns and requests to find alternative accommodation.
“Following an inspection of the property earlier this year, a schedule of works needed to make repairs and resolve damp and mould was issued to the landlord along with a request for relevant safety certificates.
“During a recent re-visit to the property we have seen that some of the works have not been completed within the deadline set and those that have are of a poor standard, as well as further disrepair. Although safety certificates were received, there are deficiencies noted on some of them.
“We have therefore handed the case to our Licence Enforcement Unit for them to review and determine if any enforcement action is appropriate.”
Prior to publication we ask Mr Walters to comment on the state of the property and the claim that it had affected Ms Asfaha’s health.