Tenants ordered to leave city horror flats - costing taxpayers £50,000
- Credit: Archant
Dozens of tenants will have to move out of a scandal-hit city apartment block for their own safety in an unprecedented move by the council.
The flats at 60 St Faith's Lane, off Prince of Wales Road, have fallen into such disrepair that Norwich City Council said it had no option but to get the tenants out so renovation could take place.
The council put a prohibition order on the building yesterday meaning tenants, including young families, in the 25 flats have 28 days to leave.
It has never used the order on such a large block of flats before.
Council staff will help the tenants find new homes and they will also be paid around £50,000 in total compensation by the council.
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The landlord, Faiths Lane Apartments Ltd, has not carried out any of the work the council ordered it to in February to make the apartments safe.
The council has been trying to get Nick Sutton, who is the sole director of Faiths Lane Apartments, to do work on the 41-flats since they found a litany of hazards eight months ago.
The council served eight notices ordering the landlord to sort the electrics, fire safety, heating and windows.
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But a letter sent by the council to tenants on Monday said the situation was now even worse.
Raw sewage has leaked into the basement, intruders have slept in the communal areas taking drugs, there have been floods, there is not enough hot water and the fire alarms have not been working properly for months.
It means that tenants are not responding to fire alarms as they go off so frequently.
Adding to the danger is insufficient fire separation between the floors.
The council said it could make the fire system safe enough for the next 28 days, while tenants leave, but after that more extensive work needed to be carried out.
The letter to tenants offered help with deposits for new flats, compensation and advice.
'I understand this is upsetting and disruptive for you,' the letter read. 'But I can assure you that the city council has not taken this decision lightly. We cannot allow you to remain in this building when there are serious problems that are not being addressed.'
Mr Sutton has been contacted for comment. In August, he claimed he was carrying out a 'full renovation' of the block after we reported on water pouring down the walls of flats.
•A year of problems
Problems at 60 St Faith's Lane were first exposed a year ago by this newspaper.
We found tenants' deposits were not being returned and some were living in flats with mould, damp and no heating.
But the apartments have continued to be advertised for rent.
In February the city council ordered the landlord to renovate carry out improvements on the block, giving them until June.
However, the work has not been done.
Landlords who ignore improvement notices can be fined thousands of pounds and prosecuted.
It is understood the council has issued four fines against the landlord, Faiths Lane Apartments, and the firm's director, property developer Nick Sutton.
Mr Sutton and his wife Ayse, a member of the Turkish royal family, own another firm which manages the flats. They are called Max Estates Ltd. Mr Sutton also owns a company called Sutton Management Services which manages the flats.
The city council said it had given the landlord plenty of chances to renovate the flats, but time had now run out.
Beth Jones, cabinet member for safer, stronger neighbourhoods, said: 'We've made every possible effort to work with the landlord regarding repairs that need to be carried out in these flats as a matter of urgency.
'But despite that, we've reached the point where we cannot, and will not, leave Norwich residents to live in these dreadful conditions.
'Using expert teams of officers from across the council, we will use all the legal powers we have to move the residents out of their current accommodation and offer to house them in safe and warm temporary accommodation.
'Our home options team will then work with all those affected to discuss their housing needs moving forward.'
The council is also pursuing the landlord for fines for not complying with improvement notices.
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