The parent, who lives with his baby and partner in Bristol, has said his home in a former office block is like “living in hell” as police said they have been called 200 times in just over a year to the site
Image: BPM MEDIA)
A dad says he is so scared in his own home that he sleeps with a hammer and a screwdriver next to his bed for fear of being attacked by an intruder.
The parent, who lives with his baby and partner in Bristol, has said his building is like “living in hell”.
He lashed out at the former office complex in the Hengrove area of the city, saying it is “not fit for human habitation”.
Police said they were called more than 200 times in just over a year to the site, Bristol Live reports.
Other residents, including a young mum, have also said they do not feel safe there.
The parent claimed that shortly after they moved in to the apartments there was a fight in the corridor and their front door was covered in blood.
He also claimed that he witnessed an attempted stabbing and said he had had problems before, including receiving threats and abuse from one of the other residents.
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“I feel very unsafe and I am always worried about someone trying to come into the flat and hurt us,” he said. “I sleep with a hammer next to my bed just in case.
“It is not very nice.”
Caridon has said it has security on site every day and night from 11am until 6am and that, when it is busier, it has two guards on duty. The developer said guards are trained to deal with ASB and that police would have been called immediately in the case of a serious incident.
The developer has said that anyone found to be causing any bother is put into a three-stage procedure; starting with a warning, followed by signing an agreement with Caridon and the police and the last stage being eviction. However, it said it reviews procedures regularly and remains open to discussions about their effectiveness.
Bristol City Council admitted earlier this week that the use of a former council office block in south Bristol for housing is “not an ideal option” – but has defended doing so, saying the site has provided housing for more than 200 people.
In Summer 2020, the council revealed it planned to house people in the complex which was being redeveloped by Caridon.
The company was the subject of a Newsnight investigation as residents in one of their developments in London complained about overcrowding and the mix of people, speaking about violence and substance misuse.
The dad also claimed the family have made more than a hundred complaints to Caridon about the site, including about drugs and violence, but he says that nothing has been done.
The resident described the noise at the site as “awful” and claimed they have found drug needles outside their window before, adding that they have been without hot water or heating for several months now and are having to rely on personal heaters to keep the flat warm.
The dad said they feel they never had a choice about whether they wanted to live at Imperial Apartments or not, adding he feels he is battling the council and Caridon to escape the development.
He continued: “We moved in thinking this would be temporary accommodation, for a maximum of a year, and that we would then be moved somewhere else, but it turns out the contract just keeps rolling.
“We are trying to get them to move us but they [the council] are saying we are adequately housed.
“Since we moved in, my partner’s mental health has gone downhill drastically and I feel constantly paranoid that someone is going to come in and hurt us.
“It is not fit for human habitation – it is disgusting. It has been like living in hell.
“They sold us something nice, but in the end it turned out to be our worst nightmare.”
Caridon has said that Imperial Apartments provide residents with the opportunity to manage an independent tenancy and that, for those that choose to move, it will provide landlord references.
The developer said it has only had a “handful” of tenants that have chose to leave and that the vast majority “are very happy at the property and are a positive part of our community”, adding that many of its tenants were at risk of becoming homeless and have now found a permanent home at the site.
Caridon said that tenant safety is a primary concern and that the private gated development has an “extensive amount of cameras”, together with front desk security and concierge services.
A young mum who has been living in a two-bedroom flat at Imperial Apartments since the end of last year described the situation as appalling.
The resident – who is in her 20s and has a one-year-old child – claimed she experienced serious harassment from another tenant and that the police advised her not to be there because of this.
She continued: “The person is still living there, he has been moved to a different part of the building but he knows where I am.
“I feel very unsafe there and my mental health has been seriously affected by what is going on.
“I have been feeling depressed, anxious and scared.
“I am feeling mentally drained.”
The mum said she is now on medication for her depression, adding she has been staying at friends’ houses as she doesn’t want to be at Imperial Apartments anymore.
Caridon has said it will reach out to the tenant immediately and offer all the support it can to seek a solution where possible.
She said there are lots of young mums living at the development and that, when she was housed there she was told it would be perfect for her and her child as, for instance, the site has a soft play area.
The mum – who signed a one year contract – claimed the whole building is in a disgusting condition.
“I do not think any family with children should be housed here,” she continued. “I think it is very unsafe for children to be in this kind of atmosphere.
“I thought I would be able to go elsewhere but I am now on a monthly rolling tenancy until I find somewhere to move to.”
Caridon has said it has a strict referral criteria in place for the building and conducts a risk assessment on all tenants to assess suitability, adding all tenants are offered ‘assured shorthold tenancies’ and that the option to live at the site is choice based.
The developer said it has worked very closely with the council in building a safe and thriving community and has heavily invested in breakout spaces and facilities.
Caridon said: “We pride ourselves on customer service and treating all our tenants with respect.
“Since Imperial Apartments launched we have done our utmost to really listen to resident feedback with many of their recommendations being put in place.
“They wanted more onsite amenities which we have provided with our soft play area and children’s playground, for example. We have four communal rooms fitted with flat screen TVs, yoga mats and fitness equipment and all areas are cleaned daily by our full-time cleaner.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.