Innerleithen family say they feel trapped in tenancy nightmare

An Innerleithen family say they are trapped in a “dangerous” flat and are desperate to find a new home.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 9:33 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 9:33 am

Isla Douglas and Kye Summers, say their lives have been a nightmare since moving into a privately rented property on Innerleithen’s High Street, a year ago.

Fearing for the safety of her three young children, all under the age of five, Ms Douglas says the flat is unsafe, and claims her landlord is ignoring messages and failing to fix the problems they report.

However, landlord Mr Asma Naveed, refutes the allegations, and told The Southern, he is taking legal action to evict the family.

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The family are desperate to move somewhere else.

When they took on the tenancy, the couple claim Mr Naveed told them they didn’t need to pay a deposit, if they agreed to redecorate the property.

However, Ms Douglas says he later “harrassed” them for the deposit along with the £850 rent.

They also claim the landlord went back on his promise of allowing them use of the garden, telling them he had sold it to a friend.

Describing the last year as “hell”, the family allege they are continually without heating and hot water.

Blocked shower cubicle.

Ms Douglas added: “The shower doors keep falling off and are very heavy. On two occasions my daughter was hurt. I fear every time someone goes into the bathroom because you can see our floorboards from inside the shop below us.”

“The boiler he installed is always losing pressure, and nearly every day we are without heating and hot water.”

And the bad weather brought a new set of problems for the family. “Our front door started to fall off, and our porch has major wood rot and mould. We have centipedes and woodlice in our house constantly,” says Ms Douglas

"He hasn’t fixed the porch, and put carpet tacks in the front door to stop it falling off.”

The damaged roof.

Things went from bad to worse, when the bedroom roof caved in. “We were told from a previous tenant that this has happened before, and he had to pay out of his own pocket to repair it,” she said.

The flat is above a shop owned by the landlord. “We have been told that water has been leaking into the shop for four years. Now, with a family of five using sinks, the washing machine, and shower, it’s causing more damage,” explained Ms Douglas. “He never hires anyone to do the work for him, he just wings it himself.”

Refusing to pay the £850 rent, the mum of three contacted local housing associations and Scottish Borders Council, desperate to be re-homed.

“It’s been a nightmare and I’m constantly in tears, she said. “The officer from SBC made me feel like it's my fault, and I’m making the landlord’s life hard. I’ve only ever refused him access twice, and one of those times was when the council officer was here, and he turned up a few minutes after her. He gives me no warning, often banging on my door in the evening when my kids are in bed.”

More problems with the flat.

The family say they have been refused homeless accommodation from the council, and were told the house was “safe” to live in.

Ms Douglas described the impact it has had on her family’s well-being. “It’s awful. We are constantly bickering because we have no heating and hot water, or one of the kids are screaming because they’ve hurt themselves.

"We can’t be the only people in this horrible situation, and the council just sit back and watch, giving permission for more expensive housing developments and holiday homes instead of affordable housing. It’s crazy.”

We contacted the landlord regarding the allegations, and he said he could not comment as he is pursuing legal action to have the family evicted.

Scottish Borders Council’s director of infrastructure and environment, John Curry, said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases but would always encourage anyone who may be experiencing difficulties with a tenancy or other housing issue to liaise with our Housing Strategy Team for further advice and information.”

The family say they need to move out for their health.
More damage at the flat.