Episode 2 The Housing Enforcers


Episode 2

Consumer programme. Matt heads to Margate where an outbreak of chronic damp is threatening the health of young children. Plus what happens when a family home is plagued by rats?


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Transcript


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Now it's time for The Housing

Enforcers, with Matt Allwright.

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Can you imagine living

in these conditions?

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So you started with mice?

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Yeah.

And now they're rats?

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Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Security's very poor at

the back of this property.

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But with the pressure on

housing greater than ever,

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finding a safe place to live

is getting harder and harder.

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It's just terrible.

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It gets me the most, this place.

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Oh, my God. Can you see

what's going on here?

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I'm Matt Allwright, and

I'm back on the front line

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with the Housing Enforcers.

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So what you've got is a very,

very quick way to dispatch yourself.

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This series tackles downright

dangerous houses head-on.

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Really worryingly, there's no

mains gas supply here at all.

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From life-endangering firetraps...

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They wouldn't even know that the

place was on fire before they

were dead.

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You can see these plugs here,

they've blown.

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Worst case scenario,

the house could have burnt down.

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..to health hazards...

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It's at a stage where it

really needs to be dealt with now.

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..to accidents waiting to happen...

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Actually, you're not talking about

a fire, you're talking about

an explosion.

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..making sure we all have a safe

and secure place to call home.

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There are things here that could

seriously shorten your life.

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Today, a dangerously unsafe property

takes housing officer Richard

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by surprise.

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This is unreal.

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This ceiling's going to

come down any time soon.

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In Margate, a young family's

health is being put at risk.

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Knowing that my son is in here,

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my newborn son and my older son,

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and that could cause a

lot of health risks...

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Sorry, I'm...

That's all right.

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And we find out what happens

when a home is overrun by rats.

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I find myself quite often

on edge in my own home.

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You can see them running

on top of the pipes

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and going through right

into your main building.

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You'd like to think you'd know if

you were safe in your own home,

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wouldn't you?

But if you're a tenant,

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you may have to rely

on your landlord

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to provide a safe and

secure place to live.

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I'm working alongside the men and

women whose job it is to ensure

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we're not living in lethal homes,

and they are the Housing Enforcers.

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Home safety is very important.

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Very important.

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We take care of all our appliances

and make sure that everything is

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working correctly.

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I think the adults

in the home should

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keep all the dangerous objects

away from children,

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especially the kitchen

is a dangerous place.

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We've got a burglar alarm,

because we were broke into.

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SHE CHUCKLES

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We've got smoke alarms.

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My home's safe. Every window has

got double locking on.

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Front door's got two deadlocks on it

and a deadlocking night latch.

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So I don't worry about it.

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In the West Midlands,

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housing officer Richard Hawkins

has had a call-out to an abandoned

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building after reports there might

be people living in it.

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There's a potential that we've

got an empty pub with people

living upstairs.

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Could be an illegal conversion.

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There's also work going on on site

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where we've got people

doing hand car washing.

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It could be a very

dangerous situation.

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As well as being a fire risk,

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derelict buildings can quickly

become a dumping ground

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for rubbish and illegal activities.

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There's going to be a lot of

different agencies

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all working together today to try

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and unpick it all and resolve

everything that we can and make sure

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that the people that are living

on the site are safe

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and the building's up to regulations

and that it's safe to live in.

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First impressions aren't reassuring.

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The pub has obviously been

empty for some time.

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West Midlands Fire Service

officers are already on site.

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Let's go in, try our luck,

and see where we go from there.

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OK?

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It doesn't seem like the guy

washing cars round the back

was expecting visitors.

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Hello.

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Sandwell Council...

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..and West Midlands Fire Service.

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We need access to this building,

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where people are living.

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There's one living upstairs.

There's one living upstairs?

Yeah.

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Although the man clearly

knows how to get in,

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he wants Richard to

wait by a side door.

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Well, we know now, obviously

the game's been given away that

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there is somebody living up here.

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It's pretty grim, isn't it?

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We've got what looks like some kind

of obviously informal car washing

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operation going on at the back.

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A bit of fly-tipping

going on, obviously.

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Not very pleasant grime and that,

but if we've got people

living upstairs,

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obviously, where's

the bins being emptied?

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It's obviously not very safe.

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I mean, look at this.

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I think I can hear something inside.

HE KNOCKS ON DOOR

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It looks like there is someone in.

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Richard has no idea what

awaits him inside.

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Hello. From Sandwell Council.

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Are you living here?

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Yeah.

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My friend, how long have

you been living here?

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Nearly a year.

Nearly a year?

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Are you here alone?

Yeah,

but people live, they've gone.

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OK, so we've got other

people living here as well?

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Locked. Locked.

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OK, so we've got a HMO.

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By law, conditions in houses of

multiple occupancy, or HMOs,

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must be safe and secure.

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Who's responsible for this

place is anyone's guess,

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but if there's an

immediate threat to safety,

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Richard could order a prohibition

order and get it shut down.

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Oh, you're joking. What's this?

This is meant to be

your living room, is it?

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You're sleeping on the floor?

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They don't care.

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They just collect money, that's it.

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This property really is ringing all

sorts of alarm bells for Richard.

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I've just been told by the

tenant that they're paying,

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yeah, weekly rent.

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So, yeah, they're paying

rent to basically

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doss on a floor

in a derelict pub.

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Kids break into derelict buildings.

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Kids set fire to derelict buildings.

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There's no fire doors.

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There's no smoke detection.

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There's not even any

proper lighting.

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People could burn alive in this

place. They wouldn't even know.

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They wouldn't even know that the

place was on fire before

they were dead.

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The list of serious safety

issues is growing.

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This place is a disaster

waiting to happen.

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It's hard to believe someone's

actually taking money from people

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to live in conditions like this.

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What's even more disturbing is that

it appears there's a parent with

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children living in here, too.

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Jules.

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So there has been

children living in this.

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Yes.

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That's really worrying, isn't it?

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So there's a little girl

that's been living in this.

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It's shocking, but Richard has

seen this sort of thing before.

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The problem is that we're getting

more and more and more of these.

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Every day, we're coming across more

of these cases where you've just got

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a commercial building, and they've

just stuck a load of people in it.

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There are so many ways in which this

building is unfit for people to live

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in, that it's difficult

to know where to start.

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Remember, they're paying

for the privilege.

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Have you got any heating?

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Nothing.

No heating?

Nothing.

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How much are you paying,

dare I ask?

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Each person, 60 a week.

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£60 a week?

240 a month.

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So, 240 a month.

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There's no lights, actually.

They've all been pulled down.

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There's no emergency lights.

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There's no window. So you've got

all the doors shut at night,

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and something happens, you're going

to be fumbling around in the dark.

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So, no lighting means

a risk of falls.

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There's an absence of heating, too.

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But just when Richard thinks

conditions can't get any worse,

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he's faced with this -

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a shocking level of damp and mould.

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You're breathing it all the time,

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and these are people

that have got no heating.

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They're at the much

poorer end of society.

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They're already probably going to

have health implications anyway.

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And then you've

got this compounding it.

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You know, it's just going to

shorten your life expectancy,

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it puts pressure on the NHS.

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It's endless.

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The kitchen is also in a

seriously dangerous condition,

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with broken windows and some

worrying structural damage.

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This is unreal.

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Broken windows.

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Unreal.

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This ceiling's going to

come down any time soon.

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Eventually, then the floor is going

to saturate and come through.

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This is what you expect to see in

an abandoned building ready

for demolition.

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This isn't what you expect to see

in a property that's being

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rented to people to live in.

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So far in this property,

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Richard has identified six serious

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safety contraventions.

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With a prohibition order from

Richard on the cards, downstairs,

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the fire safety officer

is also assessing

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what steps he needs to take.

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It's in a dangerous condition for

the people living there,

no doubt about it.

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They've got no means

of giving warning.

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There's no lighting in there to

be able to see your way out.

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PHONE RINGS

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I'll have to take this call.

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That's the duty officer.

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OK, sorry about that.

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This is the key moment.

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It's whether the

Fire Service prohibit it,

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or we have to go down a much harder

route of prohibiting it.

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Later, we'll find out whether it's

the last gasp for the Puffing Billy,

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and what's going to

happen to those tenants.

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What we basically don't want to do

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is shut this building

down and then we get a mum come back

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with her daughter at eight o'clock

tonight and find

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that they've got no home.

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It's thought that over a million

rented properties across the UK

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are suffering with serious

damp and mould.

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It can cause major health issues,

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and it's older people and kids

who are particularly at risk.

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We've got a bit of damp

in our bathroom.

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And I know that if you inhale

it for a long period of time,

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it can have some harmful

effects to the human body.

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We've lived in old places in

the past, and you can get mould,

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and we are worried that

it has made us ill.

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Yeah, I've got asthma,

so I've got to be careful, innit?

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So we're always...

It's the number one priority,

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when the council do come over,

we do make sure we tell them.

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We used to have some damp in our

previous house, not very much.

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We did have some. But this house

we've got now is fully insulated,

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and it's got vents in

the double glazing as well.

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In the windows, yeah.

So there's

air circulation all the time.

Mm.

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In Thanet,

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nearly one in four homes fails

to meet decent housing standards.

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I'm with housing

officers Steve O'Shea

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and Bethan Thistle on their way to

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meet a young family struggling

with chronic damp in their flat.

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I've been told the

situation is a desperate one.

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SHE KNOCKS ON DOOR

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Hi there.

Hello.

We're from the council.

Yeah.

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Yeah? How are you?

I'm good, thank you.

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Are we OK to come in?

Yeah, excuse the mess.

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Don't worry. I'm Matt, by the way.

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Hiya.

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Hi, there.

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Keith, Kimberly and their

toddler son, Jayden,

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moved into the flat over a year ago.

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But a catastrophic water leak soon

resulted in a serious damp problem.

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More worryingly, just days ago,

Kimberly gave birth to baby Riley.

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That's a very pink little baby.

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How old is he now?

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Three days.

Just three days?

Yeah.

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It seems the new arrival makes

sorting out the problems here

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even more pressing.

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Beginning here, what do you notice?

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Well, there's tea staining

which suggests there is a leak

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coming through from the roof

that's on the top of this bay.

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The tenant tells us that when

it rains, it come through.

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But I think it's maybe

travelling as well,

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through the ceiling surface as well.

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Yeah. If that's continuous,

as you say,

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part of that ceiling could start

to collapse and drop down,

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so there's a number of hazards

associated with this.

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We've got the damp penetration,

we've got falling elements.

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Look what we've got here,

right underneath this.

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We can't have this.

You need to be protected.

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You can't be getting wet

if the rain comes down.

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That's funny!

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MATT LAUGHS

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We've got loads of mould down there.

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Yeah.

Oh, my God.

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Mould definitely isn't what

you want to see around kids.

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You know, we've got mould there and

it looks like it's the product of

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condensation. We've got

kids sleeping in this room

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and occupying it for

a big part of the day.

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I mean, that can't be good for them.

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That's not going to be too good,

breathing that in.

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Young children and newborns

are the most at risk from mould.

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Weak immune systems and growing

lungs make them especially

susceptible to

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life-threatening infections,

pneumonia and respiratory failure.

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Keith shows me footage he recorded

of the leak that developed

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soon after they moved in.

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This was a few months ago

when we had heavy rain.

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If you watch the jug carefully,

you'll see the splashing.

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We went through about 38 bowls

of water, just in one day.

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And then it gradually got worse.

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It started off as just

a tiny crack in the ceiling,

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and then, more recently,

it was three weeks nonstop leaking.

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It's really sad to see the state of

this family's home and what they've

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had to deal with. But the problems

don't stop here.

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OK, so, we've

got another issue here.

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Can you see?

0:13:150:13:17

Well, we've got the consumer unit.

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We've got the meter and

the main fuse all here

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and they're all completely exposed

in a house with two kids.

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And all of that just

looks fascinating.

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It's got flashing lights.

It's got these wires.

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It looks like an activity

centre, doesn't it?

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Yeah, and particularly

with it being at low level,

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it's quite attractive

to young children.

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They could easily put their fingers

in places they shouldn't or

pull the wires.

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The risk of electrocution is

a terrifying thought for any parent,

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especially when you consider around

70 people are killed every year

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by electrical accidents in the home.

0:13:510:13:53

Next door doesn't prove

any less hazardous.

0:13:530:13:57

Right, so, this is

the kitchen.

Yeah.

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So there's one obvious

thing that's missing.

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There is no kitchen door.

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Yeah, exactly.

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So, over 65% of fires

start within the kitchen,

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so it's really important

that we have a door on here

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to stop the spread of fire,

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so we would ask for a solid,

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well-fitting door

to be fitted on here.

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OK. So that just gives you enough

time, if your toaster goes off,

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you will be able to close the door,

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get everybody else out and call

somebody else to deal with it.

0:14:250:14:28

Yes, exactly.

0:14:280:14:29

The absence of door is yet another

safety concern in this place.

0:14:300:14:34

It's really not a good situation.

0:14:340:14:36

Keith has been doing his best

to support his young family

0:14:380:14:40

for over a year in

their first home together.

0:14:400:14:43

But it looks like

he's at breaking point.

0:14:430:14:45

And what were your choices when

you moved into this place?

0:14:450:14:48

It was pretty much

the only option we had.

0:14:480:14:51

When we first came to see the place,

it was a dream home.

0:14:510:14:55

Nothing was made aware to us,

like, damage wise.

0:14:550:14:58

Then we moved in and

everything just changed.

0:14:580:15:01

This problem sounds like

the one that you had...

0:15:010:15:03

This has been going on from the

beginning.

..very soon after.

0:15:030:15:06

That's not been resolved at all?

No, not at all. I've sent messages,

0:15:060:15:10

and all I get is,

"I'll speak to someone."

0:15:100:15:12

"I'll send someone out

to look at it."

0:15:120:15:14

But still we've had nothing.

0:15:140:15:16

You're staying here because you

haven't got many other options,

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is that the case?

No, we haven't

got any options at all.

0:15:190:15:21

We've been wanting to get out

of here for almost a year now,

0:15:210:15:24

and knowing that my son is in here,

my newborn son, and my older son,

0:15:240:15:28

and that could cause a

lot of health risks...

0:15:280:15:30

..and I'm not supporting...

0:15:310:15:33

Sorry.

It's all right.

0:15:340:15:36

I've been wanting to support

my partner for a long time.

0:15:430:15:47

I've really been trying, but this

flat has just been knocking me down,

0:15:470:15:50

down further and further.

0:15:500:15:51

OK. I mean, when you've got a new

baby, or new babies, it is hard,

0:15:520:15:57

but they are supposed

to be happy times.

0:15:570:16:00

Yeah.

Are you able to enjoy that?

0:16:000:16:02

How's it been?

The happiest moment

of my son being born was being

0:16:020:16:05

in that hospital

cos we weren't here.

0:16:050:16:08

I haven't had sleep for almost

two nights because I've been

0:16:080:16:10

up all night watching him, making

sure he's still, you know,

0:16:100:16:13

breathing, and not

coughing or anything,

0:16:130:16:16

because I don't know what is

in the air here any more.

0:16:160:16:19

It feels to me like you feel a

bit trapped here at the moment.

0:16:190:16:22

Yeah.

I hope you find a way

out of that.

0:16:220:16:25

Thank you.

0:16:250:16:26

I think it's important that we get

the landlord to fix the problem with

0:16:280:16:32

the roof because, obviously,

clearly, every time it rains,

0:16:320:16:34

it's just going to keep coming

through and make matters worse.

0:16:340:16:37

It's going to become more of

an issue if we don't get

it resolved quickly.

0:16:370:16:40

In every sense of the word,

0:16:420:16:43

trying to make the best of

the situation they're in,

0:16:430:16:46

two tiny children,

0:16:460:16:48

and a house where it doesn't

matter where you put yourself,

0:16:480:16:52

you're going to be

exposing yourself to...

0:16:520:16:55

There's some risks. There's the

damp, electrics, the kitchen door.

0:16:550:17:01

All of those things.

0:17:010:17:02

What they really need is a break.

0:17:020:17:04

They need someone to sort

their house out,

0:17:040:17:06

allow them to make it into a home.

0:17:060:17:09

And that person, of course,

0:17:090:17:11

should be the person

responsible for the property.

0:17:110:17:13

Let's hope that's what happens.

0:17:150:17:17

The landlord tells us that he didn't

know about the damp issues before

0:17:210:17:25

Keith moved in but that he'll now

look into the cause of the leak.

0:17:250:17:30

He says the electrical consumer unit

is at a normal height,

0:17:300:17:33

but he will replace the door.

0:17:330:17:35

He says the kitchen door

isn't necessary, though,

0:17:350:17:38

as it's a ground-floor flat.

0:17:380:17:40

He's keen to stress that he's

not a slum landlord

0:17:400:17:43

and his tenants usually

stay with him

0:17:430:17:46

before moving on to bigger

properties when they can.

0:17:460:17:49

In the West Midlands,

0:17:520:17:53

housing officer Richard Hawkins

0:17:530:17:55

is on the brink of

issuing a prohibition order

0:17:550:17:57

on tenants living above

an unsafe derelict pub.

0:17:570:18:00

As well as damp, mould and

collapsing ceilings

0:18:020:18:05

that are putting tenants at risk,

0:18:050:18:07

the building could

easily go up in smoke.

0:18:070:18:09

Outside, West Midlands Fire Service

inspectors are making an urgent

0:18:110:18:14

assessment of the

possible risks to life.

0:18:140:18:16

Flat roof, we've got no control

on what's underneath.

0:18:160:18:18

We can't actually get

in to have a look round.

0:18:180:18:21

There's definitely

separation issues.

0:18:210:18:23

Yeah.

You could always have someone

come along, an arsonist -

0:18:230:18:26

that window's broke over there -

start a fire. That roof...

0:18:260:18:28

The empty bar area means there's a

risk of fire beneath the

tenants' rooms.

0:18:280:18:32

The team has the power to shut it

down immediately, but first,

0:18:320:18:35

they need to do a thorough check

inside the building.

0:18:350:18:38

What I'm looking at is to just

0:18:380:18:40

ensure that if we do serve

a prohibition notice,

0:18:400:18:42

it's because we've got

no other choice,

0:18:420:18:45

that the situation's so serious

that we've got no choice to do it.

0:18:450:18:49

Straight away, there's

cause for concern.

0:18:490:18:52

There's not a self-closing door

on your high-risk room.

0:18:520:18:57

We believe there's

two people in here,

0:18:570:18:59

one of them a pregnant woman.

0:18:590:19:01

It's truly shocking.

0:19:010:19:03

There are children living here and

the lack of any decent fire safety

0:19:030:19:06

equipment means this

place is a death trap.

0:19:060:19:09

We're seeing if we can

reduce the risk

0:19:100:19:12

cos the consequence of serving

the prohibition notice is that

0:19:120:19:15

people have to be rehoused.

0:19:150:19:16

If we've got no choice,

then I have to serve the notice.

0:19:160:19:19

But I just want to ensure

that, from our point of view,

0:19:190:19:21

we've considered all options.

0:19:210:19:23

With locks on some of the rooms,

0:19:230:19:25

it's been difficult to work out

for sure exactly who lives here.

0:19:250:19:29

But for Richard, it's not a safe and

secure environment for anyone on

any level.

0:19:290:19:34

The lock doesn't work,

so when the tenants go out,

0:19:340:19:37

they have to leave the door open.

0:19:370:19:39

And when they're in, the only way

of locking it is a bolt at the top.

0:19:390:19:42

Round the back,

0:19:430:19:45

the tenants have created another

huge health and safety hazard.

0:19:450:19:48

Wow.

0:19:480:19:49

I mean, the smell's horrible.

0:19:490:19:51

Got soft mattresses here.

0:19:510:19:53

Again, we're in that situation where

you're going to get rats and rodents

0:19:530:19:57

that can burrow into these

types of places,

0:19:570:19:59

get in what we call harbourage.

0:19:590:20:02

It's a nice, cosy place for

a rat to sleep, isn't it?

0:20:020:20:05

Vermin like rats carry all sorts of

diseases and bugs that can be passed

0:20:050:20:08

to people, including

tuberculosis and E coli.

0:20:080:20:12

The last thing you want to do is

give them a comfortable habitat

to live in.

0:20:120:20:15

It's a big rotting,

stinking pile of filth.

0:20:150:20:19

The list of serious safety

hazards keeps growing.

0:20:210:20:24

But however bad things are,

0:20:240:20:26

the team has to consider

that this is a place

0:20:260:20:28

that people still call home.

0:20:280:20:30

It is a tough decision to make.

0:20:300:20:32

We'll go to the station,

write out all the different ones,

0:20:320:20:35

they'll have my signature

on it, and then

0:20:350:20:37

you can send them out at leisure.

0:20:370:20:39

The Fire Service are going to shut

this building down with

a probation order.

0:20:390:20:43

Then we're going to do is serve

another notice saying that if you

0:20:430:20:45

want people to live

in this building,

0:20:450:20:47

you've got to do these things

to make sure that it's safe.

0:20:470:20:50

It's now down to Richard to start

the ball rolling and get the tenants

0:20:510:20:54

into a home fit

for human habitation.

0:20:540:20:57

Are you able to get

yourself to an office now?

Yeah.

0:20:570:20:59

Are you able to up and go?

0:20:590:21:00

I'm going to make some phone calls

to let them know you're coming

0:21:000:21:03

and I'm going to get you a status,

0:21:030:21:05

so that we can get

you rehoused today.

OK.

0:21:050:21:07

Does that make sense?

Thank you.

0:21:070:21:09

Come back and collect it, you

just can't sleep here. All right?

0:21:120:21:15

What we basically don't want to do

0:21:160:21:18

is shut this building

down and we get a mum

0:21:180:21:20

come back with her daughter at eight

o'clock tonight and find they've

0:21:200:21:23

got no home. If they

phone this number,

0:21:230:21:26

they will have a roof

over their head tonight.

0:21:260:21:29

With everyone safely

off the premises,

0:21:310:21:33

the building will be locked to

ensure no-one else can sleep there.

0:21:330:21:37

The existing tenants

can call the council

0:21:370:21:39

to arrange to pick up

their belongings.

0:21:390:21:41

Brilliant. So, that's fantastic.

0:21:450:21:48

Thanks for your help, Carl.

Appreciate it, mate.

0:21:480:21:51

Our priority here is to

get the people out

0:21:510:21:53

and to get the building safe.

0:21:530:21:54

We've done that by getting the Fire

Service to serve a probation order

0:21:540:21:57

and then the council's

going to rehouse people.

0:21:570:21:59

The others, unfortunately,

we don't know who they are,

0:21:590:22:02

so all that we can really do is put

a notice on the door for the time

0:22:020:22:05

being, hope that they see it and

that they pay attention to that.

0:22:050:22:08

We're going to have to keep coming

back here to make sure that it's not

0:22:080:22:11

lived in and that the people

in there have moved.

0:22:110:22:13

The owners of the Puffing Billy told

us that it was due to be developed

0:22:180:22:22

and that they hadn't known

that people were living there.

0:22:220:22:24

Once they found out,

they boarded the building up.

0:22:240:22:28

The property will now

stay under lock and key

0:22:280:22:31

until its future is decided.

0:22:310:22:33

Oh, and the council have given

the owners a deadline

0:22:330:22:35

to clear up that pile

of rubbish too.

0:22:350:22:38

By law, rented properties must

be safe and fit to live in.

0:22:410:22:45

The trouble is, many aren't,

0:22:450:22:47

due to a minority of landlords

ignoring their obligations.

0:22:470:22:52

If you think your landlord is

breaking the law or acting unfairly,

0:22:520:22:56

what can you do?

Well, for a start,

0:22:560:22:58

you could call your

local council housing officer.

0:22:580:23:02

Tenant safety is a key

responsibility of landlords.

0:23:020:23:06

I do think they should be

responsible because, I mean,

0:23:060:23:09

they're making money

from that property.

0:23:090:23:11

They should be using the money,

or some of the money,

0:23:110:23:13

to keep the property

to a good standard.

0:23:130:23:16

I definitely think the landlord

should take responsibility

0:23:160:23:18

for any issues that are inside

the building or even outside

0:23:180:23:22

the flat or the building

that you live in.

0:23:220:23:25

You have to inform them.

0:23:250:23:26

If they don't know what

is going on in your house,

0:23:260:23:29

how can they just pop in

to come in and mend things?

0:23:290:23:34

In Peterborough, I'm out with

housing officers Pete and Stuart.

0:23:340:23:38

They're off to meet a landlord who

has been warned he must do vital

0:23:380:23:42

safety works on one of

his rental properties.

0:23:420:23:44

Any idea what we're going

to see when we get there?

0:23:440:23:48

Yeah, we're looking at...

0:23:480:23:50

The landlord is under notice,

0:23:500:23:52

so we've served a legal notice

on him to do repairs.

0:23:520:23:54

Yeah.

0:23:540:23:56

So we've come to check...

0:23:560:23:58

We've come to check

progress more than completion.

0:23:590:24:02

It's not unusual for the council to

keep up the pressure on landlords

0:24:030:24:06

to make their properties

safe for tenants,

0:24:060:24:09

with home security a key issue.

0:24:090:24:11

One of the things was

to sort the door out.

0:24:110:24:14

What? The way it is at the moment?

0:24:140:24:15

The door that they had

locked with a spoon.

0:24:150:24:18

Yes.

A spoon?

With a spoon.

0:24:180:24:21

Not sure anyone's in.

We'll go round the back.

Shall we?

0:24:210:24:23

Yes, he did say the door

had been locked with a spoon.

0:24:250:24:29

It's anyone's guess what the rest

of the property is like though.

0:24:290:24:32

Just to put you in the picture,

0:24:320:24:34

we've arrived and the landlord is

taking us on a little guided tour

0:24:340:24:37

to show us the work,

the improvements

0:24:370:24:39

that he's made to the property,

0:24:390:24:41

which is the stuff that

Pete was insisting upon.

0:24:410:24:43

But it's still not looking good.

0:24:450:24:48

We're not even through the door yet.

0:24:480:24:50

That looks a bit wonky.

0:24:500:24:52

Everything looks a bit wonky.

0:24:520:24:53

Homes don't look like

you imagine homes always look.

0:24:580:25:03

You know that picture you drew when

you were a kid at primary school?

0:25:030:25:06

They don't always look like that.

0:25:060:25:08

And this place really doesn't.

0:25:090:25:11

Pete and Stuart have gone off

to check the work

0:25:110:25:14

the landlord has done,

0:25:140:25:15

but tenant Yvonna is frustrated

at how long it's taken.

0:25:150:25:19

He just does this yesterday.

0:25:190:25:21

Right.

This door,

the man just fixed it now.

0:25:210:25:23

So it's just literally

the last two days, today even?

0:25:230:25:27

Yeah, today.

0:25:270:25:28

One of the measures of a home

that's fit to live in

0:25:280:25:31

is that you can keep it secure.

0:25:310:25:33

To hear that's not always been

the case here is worrying.

0:25:330:25:36

I'm wondering how much rent

Yvonna has been paying.

0:25:360:25:39

For a month, I pay £600.

OK.

0:25:390:25:42

£600 a month for this property?

For this property.

0:25:420:25:44

And do you live...? Is it two of you

or do you have,

0:25:440:25:47

is there anybody else?

I've got my mum.

0:25:470:25:49

I live with my mum...

Yeah.

..my dad and my older brother,

0:25:490:25:52

he sleeps upstairs.

So, at the

moment, there's five of you,

0:25:520:25:55

including baby?

There's only two bedrooms

0:25:550:25:58

and me and my baby

have to sleep with...

0:25:580:25:59

It turns out the family have been

living in this cramped property

0:25:590:26:02

for almost a year,

0:26:020:26:04

but Yvonna says the landlord didn't

respond to most of her complaints

0:26:040:26:07

until just hours before we arrived.

0:26:070:26:10

This, he just fixed it now.

0:26:100:26:12

So there was no handrail?

No, he just put it now.

0:26:120:26:14

So, the handrail's just gone in,

still got the price on it.

Yeah.

0:26:140:26:18

Upstairs, Yvonna's keen to show me

0:26:180:26:20

what else she's been

putting up with.

0:26:200:26:22

When it's raining, it came from

that one, it came from this one,

0:26:220:26:26

and all the carpet is wet.

0:26:260:26:28

So, when it rains,

it comes through the ceiling?

0:26:280:26:30

Yeah, and from this one.

0:26:300:26:32

Water getting in can cause

structural damage and damp.

0:26:320:26:36

It's not a good situation,

0:26:360:26:37

particularly when you've got kids

in the house.

0:26:370:26:41

And this one...

Yeah?

Sometimes the water's hot,

0:26:410:26:44

sometimes it isn't hot.

So you've got a boiler in here?

0:26:440:26:46

Yeah, and then it's leaking.

0:26:460:26:48

Sometimes not hot,

0:26:480:26:50

the water's leaking

and all the carpet is wet.

0:26:500:26:52

And this room is really cold.

0:26:520:26:54

A leaking boiler can be

a serious problem

0:26:540:26:57

and it definitely needs to be

professionally repaired.

0:26:570:27:00

So, you and the baby are next door.

0:27:000:27:02

Yes, sleeping with my mum.

With your mum?

Yes.

0:27:020:27:05

So, whilst the door that was locked

with a spoon

0:27:050:27:07

and the handrail

have both been fixed,

0:27:070:27:10

it looks like Yvonna and her family

are still in a difficult situation.

0:27:100:27:13

Wow, that's one of

the most disturbing things

0:27:150:27:17

I've seen in a while.

You know, Yvonna is trying to...

0:27:170:27:21

..has brought home her child to

a house that leaks,

0:27:210:27:25

which is cold,

0:27:250:27:28

which is draughty,

0:27:280:27:31

which appears dangerous,

neglected, insecure.

0:27:310:27:36

I'd say they're not asking

for very much.

0:27:380:27:41

But even that, the landlord has,

over months, failed to provide.

0:27:410:27:47

So, there is still work to be done

in the house, as well as outside.

0:27:490:27:53

But sadly, it seems Yvonna's family

aren't alone in struggling

0:27:530:27:56

with substandard accommodation

in the city.

0:27:560:27:58

How common is what we saw in

there in Peterborough right now,

0:28:000:28:04

would you say?

In this area,

very common. Very common.

0:28:040:28:08

We could spend a week

just knocking on the door,

0:28:100:28:12

five minutes in the house,

we'll find...

0:28:120:28:15

..most houses like that.

0:28:150:28:17

So, Pete and his colleagues see

conditions like this every day.

0:28:170:28:21

That doesn't make it right

for tenants like Yvonna

0:28:210:28:23

who are having to deal with it.

0:28:230:28:24

It's now down to the housing

officers to make sure the landlord

0:28:240:28:28

sorts things out

as soon as possible.

0:28:280:28:31

The job that Pete and David,

that we have seen them doing,

0:28:310:28:35

they have to build a relationship

with this guy to try

0:28:350:28:37

and get some improvement.

0:28:370:28:40

Absolute shocker.

Absolute shocker, this one.

0:28:400:28:42

Since we filmed,

Peterborough housing officers

0:28:450:28:47

say the landlord has completed most

of the work required by the council.

0:28:470:28:51

They'll be keeping a close eye on

him to make sure the rest of the

0:28:510:28:54

repairs are done.

0:28:540:28:55

They say that in any major city

in the UK,

0:28:580:29:01

you are never more than

20 feet from a rat.

0:29:010:29:04

But having rats invade your home

is not only upsetting,

0:29:040:29:07

it's a health risk and can cause

potentially dangerous damage

0:29:070:29:12

to the property.

0:29:120:29:14

If I found a rat or even finding

a mouse in my house,

0:29:140:29:17

I would, like, die.

0:29:170:29:19

I don't think

they're very desirable.

0:29:190:29:21

You don't want vermin in your home

0:29:210:29:23

and you would contact

a pest controller

0:29:230:29:25

or the local council and ask

for advice, I would've thought.

0:29:250:29:28

They carry a lot of disease and

if you have a bad sewer system,

0:29:280:29:32

it's bad. It's really unhygienic.

0:29:320:29:34

We used to get some rats

in the back garden,

0:29:340:29:37

but we don't now

because we've got cats.

0:29:370:29:39

In Cromer, in Norfolk,

0:29:430:29:45

town centre residents Anne and Mike

are proud of the home

0:29:450:29:48

they've had for the past 25 years.

0:29:480:29:51

When we first bought it, we walked

in and the first time we saw it,

0:29:510:29:54

we fell in love with it,

0:29:540:29:56

we knew this was a house

where we were going to be happy.

0:29:560:30:00

But recently, they've had

their home life shattered

0:30:000:30:02

by some very unwelcome visitors.

0:30:020:30:05

I think it was probably

about eight weeks ago,

0:30:050:30:08

we started hearing noises.

0:30:080:30:11

I was sewing and

I heard something rustling.

0:30:110:30:15

We thought it was a mouse

and so we set traps.

0:30:150:30:20

The couple then went away

for the weekend,

0:30:200:30:22

leaving their daughter, Sally,

and her baby staying in the house.

0:30:220:30:26

My daughter, she was in the

living room, feeding the baby,

0:30:260:30:29

late at night, and she heard

the snap trap go bang.

0:30:290:30:32

To her horror, she was met not by

a mouse but by a large dead rat.

0:30:340:30:40

But that wasn't the end

of the problem.

0:30:400:30:42

More rats were getting in.

0:30:420:30:44

Our little granddaughter

could be very vulnerable.

0:30:450:30:48

It made me feel very uncomfortable.

0:30:480:30:51

I find myself quite often

on edge in my own home,

0:30:510:30:54

particularly in the evenings.

0:30:540:30:56

Exterminator Tony Bennett has been

in pest control for 35 years.

0:30:560:31:02

Rodents are here for a reason,

they need food,

0:31:020:31:04

they need water and

somewhere to live.

0:31:040:31:05

Obviously we've got quite a bit

of ground control in here,

0:31:050:31:08

which is generally tidy, but we've

also got bird feeders over the back.

0:31:080:31:12

Bird feeders will entice

all the rodents in,

0:31:120:31:15

so what we've got to do is deter

them from the restaurant

0:31:150:31:17

they're eating in, so they

start controlling the poison,

0:31:170:31:20

which we call the beans on toast,

on the bait stations.

0:31:200:31:23

Controlling rodents is

a growing problem in the UK.

0:31:250:31:29

It's thought they might even be

developing immunity to some poisons.

0:31:290:31:32

Tony wants to find out how the

rats are getting into the house

0:31:340:31:38

and where they might be living.

0:31:380:31:39

Just going to do a survey of the

kitchen, underneath the kick plates,

0:31:400:31:43

which is the most common place

for rodents to harbour.

0:31:430:31:47

There's not much of a smear mark

so it shows you

0:31:480:31:50

they haven't been using it

for a long time.

0:31:500:31:53

Well, the rats will most commonly

come in a hole through pipework

0:31:530:31:57

at the back of the doors

in the yard or kitchen

0:31:570:31:59

or gnawing through doors.

0:31:590:32:01

If there's no issues

with proofing low-level,

0:32:010:32:03

they will climb up the drainpipes,

0:32:030:32:05

go through the gutter and underneath

the eaves, and go into the loft.

0:32:050:32:09

And a quick check of the loft

shows he's right.

0:32:110:32:14

We've definitely had rats up here

0:32:150:32:16

because I can smell the aroma

of the urine.

0:32:160:32:19

As you can see, the pest control

person dealing with this property

0:32:190:32:22

has put some bait, tethered bait.

0:32:220:32:25

You can see all the holes in the top

0:32:250:32:27

and as I go around you'll see the

holes going through the pipework.

0:32:270:32:30

And you can see a couple of

little nibbles on the lagging.

0:32:320:32:36

They've definitely come in

from one of the corners,

0:32:360:32:38

either this side or that side,

and they're running down,

0:32:380:32:40

over the top of the joists,

0:32:400:32:42

you can see them running

on top of the pipes

0:32:420:32:44

and going through right into

your main building.

0:32:440:32:47

If the rats have

established a colony,

0:32:470:32:49

they'll be more difficult

to get rid of,

0:32:490:32:51

but Tony's got at least

a little bit of good news.

0:32:510:32:54

There's no evidence

of juvenile droppings.

0:32:550:32:57

If it had been going on

for quite a while,

0:32:570:32:59

one rat will lay 40 droppings a day

0:32:590:33:01

and there'd be quite a bit

of evidence and a bit of aroma,

0:33:010:33:03

so it's really early stages.

0:33:030:33:05

Just looks like the beginning of

summer, they found your food source,

0:33:050:33:08

now they're looking for somewhere

to live over the winter.

0:33:080:33:12

As rats reproduce so rapidly

over just one year,

0:33:120:33:15

it's important to track the rodents

down and stop them settling in.

0:33:150:33:19

Oh, here we go, we've got some

rat droppings down here.

0:33:210:33:23

This'll be a good place

to put a trap or some bait

0:33:230:33:25

because they've been

using it regular.

0:33:250:33:27

You can see another

larger one there, so...

0:33:270:33:30

It's not as mad, bad as it

might be, I think,

0:33:300:33:32

from what Tony's been saying.

0:33:320:33:34

It looks as if it's, you know, as he

says, early stages, but it's just...

0:33:340:33:38

Erm...

0:33:400:33:41

Can you switch that off, please?

0:33:430:33:45

You can see why Anne's upset.

0:33:450:33:47

It's not only having vermin

in her home -

0:33:470:33:49

rats can carry nasty diseases

which can be passed on to humans

0:33:490:33:53

through urine and faeces, including

salmonella and Weil's disease.

0:33:530:33:57

You've got no holes going through.

0:33:580:34:00

No smear marks, no droppings,

no tail swipes or footprints.

0:34:000:34:04

Absolutely great. Peace of mind,

you're safe in that one.

0:34:040:34:07

At least their bedroom is clear.

0:34:070:34:09

To deter rats it's important to keep

your home and garden free of clutter

0:34:100:34:15

and store food and pet food

in containers.

0:34:150:34:17

Oh, and rubbish should always

be put in secure bins.

0:34:170:34:21

The bung holes are normally in

the middle.

0:34:210:34:23

If there's no bung hole

there'll be a hole in the bottom...

0:34:230:34:27

..where rats come through

and have a feed.

0:34:270:34:29

To us this is rubbish,

but this is gold dust for a rodent

0:34:290:34:32

and if they're eating here

at this lovely restaurant,

0:34:320:34:35

they're not going to touch

the beans on toast.

OK.

OK.

0:34:350:34:37

The best thing to do is obviously

to fix some 5ml mesh at the base.

0:34:370:34:41

Yeah.

That'll prevent any rodent

getting through, mice or rats,

0:34:410:34:44

and then we can start

controlling them. OK?

0:34:440:34:47

It's going to go.

0:34:470:34:48

The rat is not going to win.

The rat is not going to win.

No.

0:34:480:34:51

Neighbourly disputes are one of the

biggest causes of complaints

0:34:550:34:58

to councils in the UK.

0:34:580:35:01

In Suffolk, housing officer

Andrew Weavers

0:35:010:35:03

has had a call from a council tenant

0:35:030:35:05

who's very unhappy

with his neighbour.

0:35:050:35:08

What have you got for me today?

0:35:080:35:09

OK. I've got a complaint about

somebody with a very overgrown...

0:35:090:35:13

Well, not overgrown garden,

a very messy garden.

0:35:130:35:15

The neighbour has rung me and said

0:35:150:35:19

that the garden is really

in a bad state.

0:35:190:35:22

He's obviously worried about rats.

0:35:220:35:24

Also there's some dogs

at the property,

0:35:240:35:26

the neighbour's a bit worried

about them,

0:35:260:35:28

noise and the fact that they

may be a little bit dangerous.

0:35:280:35:32

I don't know. I hope not cos I'm not

really very good at dangerous dogs.

0:35:320:35:35

No. I don't think anyone's very good

at dangerous dogs...

No.

..really.

0:35:350:35:38

Well, that's exciting...

Yep.

0:35:380:35:40

..so a cluttered garden

and maybe some dogs thrown

0:35:400:35:43

into the mix as well.

Yeah.

That's a challenge.

Yeah.

0:35:430:35:46

Let's go.

OK.

0:35:460:35:47

Council tenants are expected

to maintain their homes

0:35:490:35:51

in a reasonable condition

0:35:510:35:53

and not cause a nuisance or

danger to nearby residents.

0:35:530:35:56

Any anti-social behaviour

could put them in breach

0:35:560:35:59

of their tenancy agreement.

0:35:590:36:01

I don't know what we're going to see

0:36:010:36:03

but if there's a lot of

clutter outside,

0:36:030:36:06

then it's going to be an eyesore,

isn't it?

0:36:060:36:08

If he lives the same way indoors...

0:36:080:36:11

..it's a fire risk in there.

0:36:110:36:13

What sort of thing

is cluttering the house?

0:36:130:36:16

Will he be able to get out

if there is a problem?

0:36:160:36:20

So, the outside symptoms give you

a good reason to go in

0:36:200:36:25

and have a look inside and work out

0:36:250:36:27

whether that in itself

presents a risk.

0:36:270:36:29

We will see.

All will be revealed.

Unless he kicks us out.

0:36:290:36:32

Unless he sets the dogs on us.

Yeah.

We don't want that.

0:36:320:36:35

BARKING

0:36:400:36:41

Sure enough, the dogs are certainly

keen to make themselves heard.

0:36:410:36:45

You'd think when the dogs go off,

he'd know that someone's around.

0:36:450:36:48

Yeah.

0:36:480:36:50

And Andrew wasn't exaggerating

about the clutter either.

0:36:500:36:53

That is one garden that is

completely out of control.

0:36:530:36:56

It's part timber yard, it's part

agricultural plant hire.

0:36:560:37:01

In amidst all of that,

there are lots of chickens,

0:37:010:37:04

there's a duck

0:37:040:37:06

and inside the house there

are several very large dogs.

0:37:060:37:09

However, there is no occupant,

there's no resident at the moment.

0:37:090:37:13

But it's a sight to see,

I'll say that much.

0:37:130:37:16

It really is. If I was living

next door to it,

0:37:160:37:19

I would be asking

some serious questions.

0:37:190:37:22

It's looking like the tenant

isn't at home,

0:37:220:37:24

so we're going to have to try to get

some answers from other neighbours.

0:37:240:37:28

Hey, sunshine. Hello!

0:37:280:37:30

The dogs here are

much more friendly.

0:37:300:37:32

Hello, Daisy!

0:37:320:37:34

These are my kind of dogs.

0:37:340:37:36

Look at that.

0:37:360:37:38

If you can't see your neighbour,

it don't affect you,

0:37:380:37:40

so you'll obviously get on OK

with him, it's just, I think...

0:37:400:37:42

Yeah, I don't have any problems.

0:37:420:37:44

Yeah, I think we've had complaints

from other people about, obviously,

0:37:440:37:48

the condition of the garden,

0:37:480:37:49

maybe what's going on inside,

I don't know.

0:37:490:37:52

Yeah, I don't...

But...

I don't have that much contact.

0:37:520:37:55

Yeah.

No.

So...

But that's why I'm here.

Yeah.

0:37:550:37:58

Obviously had the complaint but...

No, no, he's no problem to me.

0:37:580:38:02

Good.

The only problems we do

get is with the rats.

0:38:020:38:06

There are rats there, then.

0:38:060:38:07

When he took down the old buildings,

we found there was lots of rats.

0:38:070:38:10

Uh-huh.

Because I have got a

few chickens at the back there

0:38:100:38:14

and I get problems

with the rats coming in.

OK.

0:38:140:38:18

Neighbours are very tolerant,

actually, of the way

0:38:180:38:22

that gentleman is choosing

to live his life and,

0:38:220:38:24

you know, if you look

at that back garden,

0:38:240:38:27

it seems to me there's a guy

that's been very,

0:38:270:38:28

very busy in his life and maybe,

for one reason or another,

0:38:280:38:32

hasn't been able to keep up

that level of activity

0:38:320:38:35

and keep up this property.

0:38:350:38:38

But that doesn't mean

you sort of wade in there

0:38:380:38:41

and punish or enforce or sanction

0:38:410:38:45

and that's what Andrew's

very good at,

0:38:450:38:47

is working out what that guy needs

to be able to live his life as well

0:38:470:38:51

as he can without

affecting neighbours.

0:38:510:38:54

It looks like this might be

a case of six of one,

0:38:540:38:56

half a dozen of the other.

0:38:560:38:58

But Andrew will need to talk to

the tenant about his garden

0:38:580:39:01

and check his dogs aren't a threat.

0:39:010:39:03

We've got one neighbour

says they're fine.

0:39:030:39:06

Yeah.

Looked after,

got no problem with him.

0:39:060:39:08

Got another neighbour saying

they're barking all the time

0:39:080:39:11

and they're vicious.

0:39:110:39:12

It does need a tidy up,

front and back.

0:39:120:39:16

I'm not saying it's got to be a

palace, cos I'm no gardener.

0:39:160:39:19

I do agree, really, people should

be able to live a little bit

0:39:190:39:22

out of the ordinary.

0:39:220:39:23

You know, we've all got our own

personalities, haven't we?

0:39:230:39:26

And then the dogs,

is that a job for you?

0:39:260:39:29

I'd only refer it on if

it was a noise nuisance.

0:39:290:39:31

As far as the tenancy's concerned,

0:39:310:39:33

he probably has been a tenant

here for quite some time,

0:39:330:39:36

so he's probably been...

0:39:360:39:38

He's come from a time

when the tenancy agreement

0:39:380:39:40

didn't really specify any

numbers of dogs, so, you know,

0:39:400:39:44

our sort of attitude, if they're

looked after and well-behaved,

0:39:440:39:49

then we let it go.

0:39:490:39:52

But if they're not,

0:39:520:39:54

then we can withdraw any permissions

that he might have had.

0:39:540:39:58

At the end of the day,

they are our properties

0:39:580:40:00

and we need to make sure

they're looked after.

0:40:000:40:02

Two weeks later, Andrew's come back

to meet with the dog-owning tenant,

0:40:070:40:11

Mr Roach.

0:40:110:40:12

Hello, mate.

Hello.

Are you all right?

Yeah, you?

0:40:130:40:16

Yeah. Spoke on the phone, didn't we?

Yeah.

0:40:160:40:20

Obviously, the first thing on my

list was obviously the allegation

0:40:200:40:23

that dogs were a nuisance

and, obviously, I was told

0:40:230:40:25

there was four dogs, or was led to

believe there was for four dogs.

0:40:250:40:28

No, there's two.

But there's only

two, isn't it?

Two dogs.

0:40:280:40:31

Yeah. Is that one of them in the

van, is it?

Yeah, yeah.

0:40:310:40:33

Where's the other one?

0:40:330:40:35

Oh.

0:40:350:40:37

You're all right.

I was bitten as a paperboy

0:40:370:40:39

and I've never forgotten it.

0:40:390:40:42

HE LAUGHS

0:40:390:40:42

So, only two dogs and

this one seems calm enough.

0:40:430:40:47

It looks like the front garden's

been tidied up too.

0:40:470:40:50

As for the back garden,

well, it's getting there.

0:40:500:40:54

So, really, we've got a work in

progress, haven't we? So...

0:40:540:40:56

Yeah, well, this...

So how

many chickens did you have?

0:40:560:41:00

I haven't got a clue.

But most of them have gone.

0:41:000:41:02

Oh, they're all gone.

Just the ones you can't catch.

0:41:020:41:04

It's not going to be an overnight...

0:41:040:41:07

No, as I say, I'm not into sort of,

you know, starting to serve notices,

0:41:070:41:12

I'm not into that. I like to sort

of try and work with you a bit.

0:41:120:41:16

You know, the other part of the

complaint was the noise and...

0:41:160:41:19

Which is totally rubbish.

..you say that's wrong.

0:41:190:41:23

Mr Roach says he doesn't think

his dogs are excessively noisy.

0:41:230:41:26

Obviously, the noise part of

it you sort of dispute, so...

0:41:260:41:30

Yeah.

..I promised I'd mention it

and I have.

Yep.

OK.

0:41:300:41:34

Before he goes,

0:41:340:41:36

Andrew's still keen to check

conditions inside the property.

0:41:360:41:40

I've only just done this but

haven't finished the paintwork yet.

0:41:400:41:44

No.

I'm not an interior designer.

No.

You know what I mean?

OK.

0:41:440:41:49

I'll come back in a month

0:41:490:41:51

and we'll see how well

you've got on, and hopefully

0:41:510:41:54

the garden will be a bit straighter

and you've made a start in here.

0:41:540:41:58

Yeah.

0:41:580:41:59

Rome wasn't built in a day,

0:41:590:42:00

certainly hasn't been built

in the last four years.

0:42:000:42:02

HE LAUGHS

0:42:020:42:04

So far, so good.

0:42:040:42:05

The garden, he's...

0:42:050:42:07

..he's now focusing on that.

0:42:070:42:09

Once that's sort of cleared,

0:42:090:42:10

I'll start pushing him on a

few other little things as well,

0:42:100:42:13

but he knows now that once

I've got something,

0:42:130:42:16

I don't sort of go away until we

can sort of sign it off and say,

0:42:160:42:19

"Right, well, we're happy

with this."

0:42:190:42:20

So, for the time being, he's

cooperating and I thought he would.

0:42:200:42:24

So that's it for now, anyway, I'm

off your back for a little while,

0:42:240:42:27

but that's all I'm looking for,

is continued improvement,

0:42:270:42:29

so see you in about four weeks.

0:42:290:42:32

Yeah, OK.

All right, fella.

Take it easy.

Cheers.

0:42:320:42:35

Well, it's not going

to be an overnight thing.

0:42:350:42:37

It's going to be a month or so,

but we'll progress.

0:42:370:42:41

It's been a successful visit

for Andrew.

0:42:420:42:45

The tenant's happy, and hopefully

the neighbours will see

0:42:450:42:47

those improvements soon.

0:42:470:42:48

That's all for today.

Join me next time,

0:42:520:42:54

when I'll be working

with the men and women

0:42:540:42:57

who are fighting to keep

you safe in your home.

0:42:570:43:00

From life-endangering fire traps to health hazards and accidents waiting to happen, Matt Allwright is back on the front line with the nation's housing enforcers to investigate what can happen when landlords and tenants fail to take safety seriously.

Matt heads to Margate where an outbreak of chronic damp is threatening the health of young children. Plus what happens when a family home is plagued by rats?