Nathan Murtagh was instructed by his landlord to use the upstairs shower in another flat he owned – but he got the shock of his life when he realized the property wasn’t empty
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A couple who lived in an apartment with a broken boiler for 18 months have described their nightmarish landlord experiences to help other renters know their rights.
Nathan Murtagh, 30, and his wife were left without hot water in their basement flat in Sheffield for a year and a half.
The couple reported the problem to their landlord, who, rather than replacing the entire system, gave them electric heaters to keep them warm.
He also connected the water system of the upstairs apartment, which he also owned, to their basement apartment – which meant they could only shower when the people upstairs were inside.
After Nathan and his wife “tired of their complaints,” the landlord gave Nathan and his wife the keys to the upstairs apartment so they could take a shower—although the apartment was still occupied by a group of students.
Nathan assumed they had been given a key because no one lived in the apartment anymore.
“It was the Easter holidays. I was showering and then I heard a knock on the bathroom door,” he said.
“When I tell people about it, they might think it’s funny that someone walked in on me in the shower, but it really isn’t.
“The landlord gave a stranger the keys to a stranger’s apartment. The tenants have gotten used to living in terrible conditions because we consider it normal.
In addition to the broken boiler, Nathan and his wife also had to throw away their clothes and books when they moved out because mold was present in most of the rooms.
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The couple moved to Sheffield in September 2017 as they needed cheap and affordable accommodation. About 18 months later, the cauldron collapsed and the couple wasn’t able to move out until October 2020.
“I trained as a teacher, my wife is a midwife, so we didn’t have a lot of money back then. Our choices were limited,” he said.
“Initially there were no problems and the previous tenant said it was fine, but then things started to deteriorate. The landlord tried to fix the boiler, but the whole system was destroyed.
“He connected her water system to yours, so all her water came into our apartment. That would have gone off her gas bill. If the students went home and their water wasn’t on, we couldn’t get hot water.”
Nathan now works as an emergency call operator for the homeless charity Shelter, which revealed today that his story is far from an isolated one.
New research from Shelter shows that more than one in six private renters in England – the equivalent of two million people – have been forced to accept a dangerous standard of living.
Some of the bad conditions renters suffer from are mold (42%), broken boilers (31%), vermin (14%) and electrical hazards (11%).
Worse, when private renters reported a maintenance issue that needed fixing, 17% — equivalent to 1.9 million people — had to wait over a month for their landlord or landlord to begin processing the request.
Shelter is urging the government to use the Queen’s speech next week to deliver on its promise to introduce Renters Reform legislation – including a Section 21 ban on no-fault evictions and a national landlord register.
Polly Neate, Managing Director of Shelter, said: “For far too long, landlords and rental agents have gotten away with cuts because tenants are powerless to challenge them.
“Tenants are tired of paying horrible rents through their noses because they have no other choice.
“Our frontline service hears every day from renters who are living in nightmare situations and are too scared to complain for fear of being kicked out.”
To ensure the government moves forward with its long-promised rent reforms, charity and creative agency Pablo has created a satirical video to illustrate just how miserable it is for so many renters.
While the rental agency is fictional, the properties are based on true stories reported to Shelter by private renters.
In the video, the landlord, played by comedian Rory Marshall, tirelessly tries to rent properties to prospective tenants.
Anyone worried about losing their home can contact Shelter for free advice.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/our-nightmare-landlord-gave-keys-26893975 "Our nightmare landlord gave us keys to someone else's house to avoid having to repair the boiler"