Family slapped with £3.6k rent for 'mouldy' house they never lived in
- Credit: Submitted
A Norwich family is being chased by the council for debts of £3,600 for a flat they never moved in to because they claim it was a health hazard.
Daniel, 31, who did not want to reveal his last name, accepted Norwich City Council's offer of a property in Midland Walk at the beginning of March last year after his family was threatened with homelessness because their private landlord wanted to sell.
But they claim when they arrived at the property days later to "decorate", it became clear the house had "serious issues" with damp, mould and humidity. In their view it was "unfit for human habitation".
They left immediately, never actually moving in.
A spokesman said the council wasn't in the business of "divulging confidential details about individual tenants to the media", but was fully aware of the facts, "did everything we should have as a landlord" and was "working through the case".
Correspondence between the tenant and the council shows that while surveyors conceded the flat had mould, they did not believe it was uninhabitable — blaming the problems on "condensation" which could be easily improved through "minor works".
For that reason, the council refused to mutually surrender the tenancy, which would allow the family to move into another council flat.
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Instead, officers insisted the tenants would have to hand in their notice and forfeit their place on the housing register. They eventually did this in August 2020 after claiming they could no longer take the stress and uncertainty.
All the while, the family were living just streets away in a private rental after the Coronavirus Act stopped people being evicted. But they still faced charges for rent and council tax on two different properties.
On May 6, 2021, the family received a final demand for £2,903 at the Midland Walk home, and on October 25, a liability order was issued in court for the council to recover £718 in unpaid tax.
The family claims they cannot afford to pay.
Daniel, whose 27-year-old partner has a chronic lung condition and whose one-year-old daughter has a serious heart defect, said the house would have "ruined their health".
He added: "It's been absolutely awful start to finish."