Dad living in Imperial Apartments feels ‘trapped’ there

A father said he felt trapped in his tenancy in a converted office block in south Bristol, which was described as ‘unsanitary’ and ‘deeply disturbing’ by an MP.

The father of one, who does not wish to be named publicly, said his family were staying with relatives elsewhere because they did not feel safe at the former Parkview office complex in Hengrove – now known as Imperial Apartments. He said attempts to find new accommodation had been mired in confusion over his tenancy and hampered by a lack of affordable housing for people on benefits.

He fears that if he gives up his tenancy at the Imperial Apartments, he could be seen as having willfully made himself homeless and losing the support of the council. BristolLive understands that if someone were to relinquish a private tenancy, then an assessment would be made by the municipality and they could be considered intentionally homeless if the property was suitable and met their needs.

READ MORE: MP says Imperial Apartments are example of ‘substandard’ housing

The father, who has a second child on the way, said he had offers of help from Bristol City Council but they weren’t suitable. One option he was given was to move to another property in the Imperial Apartments, he said.

He said: “It deteriorates my mental health, the flat is too small and I get claustrophobic. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a family to stay here. I measured it and the living room is smaller than a shipping container. I have real anxiety and depression.”

In January, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth called on the council to stop housing families with children in Imperial Apartments, adding that any families it has already housed in the controversial complex should be moved as soon as possible . She is so worried about living conditions at the site that she later raised the issue in Parliament, describing the site as a “deeply worrying” example of “substandard accommodation”.

Read more: Take a look inside the controversial housing development

Last month, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees announced that council would suspend accommodation for families with children, admitting there were “some challenges” at the site. The mayor would not say whether existing families on the site would be moved, but the review will look into that.

Caridon has previously said it offers great community development where residents live together and interact and acknowledged that while it’s not for everyone, there is a very positive atmosphere in the building. The developer has previously said it has had a very small number of tenants who have expressed concerns about living there and that in those cases they have helped in any way possible and sought “solutions to the problem”. amicable for the issues raised”.

The father – who rents one of the two-bedroom flats with his partner and their child – said: “We would like to move as soon as possible and I have requested a move with the town hall. I have been offered a transfer to the within Imperial, but that’s not what we want, I feel trapped.

“I have been told both that I am a private and that I am a council tenant. I feel like I am fighting an endless battle to move. didn’t do anything to help me. The town hall don’t listen to me, they say they can’t help me because I’m a private tenant, but the private tenant team [at the council] tell me I’m a council tenant.

“They asked me for my rental contract but I don’t have a copy of it, Caridon asked for it last year and they never returned it,” he said. “I think they should get people with kids out, it’s not a kid friendly place.”

BristolLive approached Bristol and Caridon City Council to comment on their concerns and their claim that the deal is missing, but none commented. BristolLive’s the understanding is that the tenants of the Imperial Apartments are private tenants who have been supported in private housing by the council.

Do you live at Imperial Apartments? How do you feel about living there? Our journalist Estel would like to hear from you. You can contact her directly on [email protected]

The living room/kitchen area of ​​one of the two bedroom apartments

BristolLive understands that the issue of the return of the tenancy agreement will be raised at a meeting between council and Caridon. BristolLive also understands that Caridon sometimes asks to see the rental contracts to scan them but that these must be returned.

The father said they have been at Imperial Apartments for over a year now and their fixed term lease ended in December last year meaning they are now on a rolling contract.

He said he was told he could do a home swap, but he says no one wants to swap with property at Imperial Apartments. The council’s homelessness prevention team referred him to the private rental team, he continued, who offered to pay his deposit and the first month’s rent. However, he said he could not pay the rent in places that accept people on benefits.

He’s seen properties advertised in Lawrence Weston and Avonmouth for up to £950 which he could afford, he continued, but he’s not sure the landlord would take anyone on benefits.

The father complained of a lack of support, saying he tried to get a support worker but couldn’t. He claimed he had asked for support from Caridon in their development office, but was still waiting for them to contact him again nine months later.

“I don’t have any family in this side of Bristol so it’s just us here, we’re pretty isolated,” he continued. “I had to see a doctor because I feel close to relapsing, I don’t want to eat or sleep.

“I have a history of drug problems but I’ve been sober for six years now.”

These last months, BristolLive reported numerous concerns from residents of the former Parkview office complex in Hengrove – now known as Imperial Apartments.

Among concerns raised about the Imperial Apartments, a young mum claimed ‘they are the worst’ and a first-time dad said he felt so unsafe living there that he slept with a hammer and a screwdriver next to his bed, with other residents comparing the development to storage facilities and even a prison.

Another young mum claimed her daughter ended up in hospital due to mold in her apartment, while another claimed she was sexually harassed “all the time”.

Information released by the council said there are a total of 82 children under five living in the development. The council was unable to provide details of children over the age of five despite an officer’s warning that no children over the age of five should live in the two-bed units created during of the first phase.

Read more: Imperial Apartments are home to over 80 children under five

Bristol City Council, which leases almost 70% of the properties on the site, has previously admitted that using a former council office building in south Bristol for housing is ‘not an ideal option’ and the city’s mayor, Marvin Rees, described it as ‘the least worst option’.

However, the council has previously defended its decision, saying the site has provided accommodation for more than 200 people. Caridon – the developer behind the controversial conversion – has previously said Bristol City Council is happy with them.

Read more: Imperial Apartment residents compare the site to storage facilities

Caridon has previously described Imperial Apartments as a “very diverse community” where “people from all walks of life live”. The developer has previously said that no one is forced to live on the site and that “it’s entirely their choice to be here”.

The developer also defended the size of the apartments – calling them adequate – and that the site has several amenities including a zen garden or a “heavily used” soft play area that tenants can use for free. There are also two free gyms on site — with a third due to open — and three computer suites.

Caridon has previously said it continues to seek feedback from residents, local stakeholders and Bristol City Council to ensure the building meets its objectives and is a success for the local community.

Responding to Ms Smyth’s remarks in Parliament, a spokesman for the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities said: “Councils are responsible for allocating social housing to tenants, but improving the quality of social housing is a responsibility of all social landlords.

“Everyone deserves to have a safe and decent place to live, which is why our white paper outlined our mission to bring 800,000 rental homes across England to a decent standard, halving the number of poor quality housing.

Read more: Imperial Apartment residents compare the site to storage facilities

Read more: Imperial Apartments are home to over 80 children under five

Read more: Take a look inside the controversial housing development

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