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‘I’ve found slugs in the kitchen cupboards – and worms’

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TENANTS are being urged to speak up and seek help if they are living in substandard properties after the JEP was let inside a St Helier flat riddled with mould, slugs and worms.

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Painter-decorator Christopher Lee has lived in the Kensington Place flat for four years. He is today due to vacate the two-bed property he shares with his dog, Scooby, after the Viscount’s Department took control of the premises, which includes three flats, when his landlord was declared en désastre.

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The 49-year-old said he had battled against mould, damp, rotting window sills, slugs and ‘collapsing’ scaffolding which, Mr Lee claims, had been left to rot outside.

Stewart Petrie, director of Environmental Health, said the property was a ‘mess’ and would not meet minimum standards.

Last year, laws were introduced to raise the minimum standards of dwellings after the Environmental Health Department reported continued complaints of dirty, unsafe and squalid properties being leased in Jersey’s private rental market. Now, in an effort to identify all rental properties in the Island and ensure that they meet the minimum standards, a licensing scheme has been proposed.

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If the new proposals are passed later this year, all landlords currently renting out properties to tenants would be required to obtain a licence, with their premises being subject to retrospective inspections by Environmental Health.

Mr Petrie added: ‘If you have concerns, talk to us – don’t live this way. Unless the property poses an imminent danger to health we are not going to do anything that will jeopardise the tenants’ tenancy. We will work with the tenant before we talk to the landlord.’

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Mr Lee claims he had tried to contact his landlord for 18 months about worsening damp and mould issues but had been unable to get hold of him.

He was issued with a three-month notice to leave the premises. That notice expired today and he is yet to sort out accommodation because he says he cannot find a place within his budget – he currently pays £800 a month – that allows animals.

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Mr Lee said: ‘I have been trying to get hold of the landlord for 18 months about the state of the property and to try to change my water from gas to electric. Gas is too expensive and I don’t like it.

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‘It was alright then [when I moved in] but it’s not until you start living there that you realise how bad it is. It’s 27°C in here in the day and you just cannot air it because there is dead room in the middle with no ventilation. It’s not good at all.

‘I’ve found slugs in the kitchen in the back of the cupboards – and worms.

‘The scaffolding has been up for about six years – before I was here – and it’s rotting and boards are starting to fall down.’

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
author

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