Shantelle Williams took her young children to hospital where doctors found high levels of carbon monoxide in their systems, but she says the landlord is now taking action against her.
Image: Shantelle Williams)
The landlord is suing a mother whose children were taken to the hospital for an alleged carbon monoxide leak in her rented home.
Shantelle Williams claims she also faced mounds of rubbish, including hypodermic needles, broken doors and windows and a faulty boiler at the house in Kirkby, Merseyside, the Liverpool Echo reports.
One of her young children also fell after leaning against a loose stair post, Shantelle says, while in recent weeks a faulty electrical circuit board reportedly caught fire in the early hours of the morning.
Support worker Shantelle, mother of Kai, 10, and Tyler, five, says high levels of carbon monoxide were found in her two sons’ systems last summer.
His children and a relative had complained of headaches, for which he had to take them to the hospital.
An inspection by an Environmental Health team at Knowsley Council was then carried out after problems persisted for over a year.
A report outlining various hazards was sent to owner John Potter, doing business as J&D Services, in October, advising him to make immediate improvements.
Speaking about the carbon monoxide incident, the 30-year-old said: “Both boys had complained of headaches.
“I thought they were just being typical guys, but a family member came over and when he got home he called me up and said, ‘Shantelle, I have a really bad headache.
“I panicked and called British Gas. They went out and had to turn everything off. I was told it was best to leave the property and I took the children to Ormskirk Hospital.
“Doctors said they had high levels of carbon monoxide in their systems, but in the end they were fine.”
Shantelle shared a copy of a gas safety warning notice from the engineer who visited the property, which reads: “Potential boiler odor, at risk, do not use, chimney needs to be sealed.”
Despite the dangerous state of the property, J&D Services has now launched legal action for alleged rent arrears, with Shantelle countersuing for failing to keep the property fit for human habitation.
Mr. Potter also owns J&D Estate Agents through which Shantelle leased the property.
In legal documents seen by ECHO, J&D denies maintaining the property and claims that Shantelle hindered repairs by not allowing workers access.
However, Shantelle says she was in regular contact with J&D estate agents and spent around £10,000 of her own money to make the house habitable.
Shantelle and her children were supposed to move into the house in July 2020 after her relationship with her former partner ended.
But the lack of hot water and heating meant that Shantelle and her children had to stay with her ex-partner for weeks before they could move in.
She said: “I was pretty desperate for a house. I had left my partner and this was for rent.
“When I went to see it, it was in bad shape. But the realtor said not to worry, all the repairs will be done by the time you move in.”
“Two weeks later I signed the contract, but no repairs had been made.
“The front door didn’t close properly, it was stuck, and the same thing happened with most of the windows in the house.
“In the kitchen they had a piece of clothesline that closed off the window and tied it around the sink taps.
“I was unable to move for weeks because the boiler was not working and there was no hot water.”
Despite the problems with the property, Shantelle claimed that she was not offered a discount.
When he finally moved in, he described how there were mounds of trash in the front and back yards, including needles scattered on the lawn.
J&D claims the trash wasn’t there when the house was rented and had been “dumped over the fence of a neighboring property” and said they arranged for it to be cleaned.
In an email to J&D on July 6, 2020, Shantelle wrote: “I can’t believe there is a wire keeping the kitchen window closed, it’s broken and won’t close.
“The entire window in one of the bedrooms is literally about to fall out, one of the windows in the bedroom won’t open, posing a fire hazard. I was assured that all of these issues would be fixed before I moved in.
“I have paid a lot of money to move and now I can’t move because the house is not safe.”
Other emails, sent at the end of the month, read: “I have been talking to Shelter and Citizen’s Advice and they have given me a lot of advice.
“You made me sign a contract when the house was not in livable condition. The boiler was not working, there is still no water coming out of the bathroom faucet and the shower is not working, so I still can’t move in.”
A J&D Services representative claimed that it had fulfilled its legal obligations and denied that the house was unfit for habitation.
However, the firm said it could not go into more detail due to the ongoing legal case.
According to Knowsley Council’s Environmental Health report, inspectors identified eight specific areas of danger including damp and mold growth, excess cold due to broken boiler, electrical hazards and intruder risk due to broken front door.
Shantelle added: “It took a huge toll on me financially and it took a big toll on my mental health as well, especially when they were in denial about everything.
“It has been horrible, the state of the house has been a disgrace.”
Shantelle says she has since been relocated by Knowsley Council, although she still has a few weeks left on her lease.
The legal case is ongoing.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.