Man forced to stand for hours holding windows open to ventilate mouldy flat

A man says he spends hours holding his faulty windows open to ventilate his mouldy and run-down council home.

Youssef Zahid claims living in the sixth-floor flat in Hillingdon, London feels like living in a prison cell.

He is unable to change the temperature of the shower in the bathroom and when he moved into the flat he claims it was so hot that he regularly scolded himself. The temperature has since been adjusted but he still can’t change it himself.

His flat can only be accessed through a shopping centre that closes its doors at 7pm, which means that Youssef has to ask a security guard to let him in. Although he’s been living in the property for 15 months, he still hasn’t been given a key to let himself in by Hillingdon Council.

Mr Zahid, 35, said: “It feels like prison. I spend most of my time in my bedroom. If I need ventilation I stand by the window holding it open. I don’t come in the living room because of the mould. I’ve not put a sofa in the living room or furniture in here for a reason.

“I’ve not been able to put curtains up for 15 month because I’m waiting for the windows to be fixed. You can see the people in the block of flats on the other side and they see you obviously. I want my privacy.”

Mr Zahid, who suffers from multiple health problems including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, moved to Uxbridge from Harlesden to be nearer his carer. But he has been plagued by problems with the flat since moving in 15 months ago. Mr Zahid fears cooking in his kitchen due to a plywood wall inside fitted by the previous tenant which he says is a fire hazard.

A surveyor’s report of the flat dated January 22 seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service listed an array of problems with the property, including a leak in the bathroom ceiling, a broken bath panel and rusty windows.

It concluded that the landlord had failed to ensure the flat was fit for someone to live there and estimated works to repair the property would cost more than £5,940 and take six weeks.

Mr Zahid said: “The reason I moved here was to be nearer my carer, especially at times of crisis. When I first moved in I thought it would be two or three months to fix. I said ‘be patient, give them time’ but it has been over a year and I can’t really live in here.

“When I ring up they’re very negative. They hang up on you and when they talk to you they talk to you in a very condescending manner.

“When they give you a date for repairs it’s a three or four month wait even if they’re urgent. I’ve been ill the last few years and I’ve come a long way but this is really affecting me. It’s just for things you expect when you move into a property. I’m not asking for anything fancy – I just want normal doors and normal walls.”

Hillingdon Council said: “As legal proceedings in this matter are ongoing we’re unable to comment further.”