Bristol

Residents in Bristol accuse management firm of neglect

Disused council-owned property in Bristol
Image caption The residents claim they have been living with damp, rats, dangerous electrics and no heating

A group of residents have accused a property management firm of neglect and attempts to intimidate them.

The tenants, from Bristol, say they have been living with damp, rats, dangerous electrics and no heating in properties owned by the city council.

The council is reviewing its agreement with Camelot, which finds people places to live in disused buildings.

Camelot has denied the allegations and said it would investigate any and all complaints brought to its attention.

Known as property guardians, the residents look after properties paying below market rent in exchange for protecting buildings from damage and squatters.

Camelot said it provided homes for 70 people in Bristol.

However, Nic Connor, a guardian at a former care home owned by the council, wants people to be treated "a bit better".

He and other guardians are angry about what they say are poor living conditions and a lack of maintenance.

Some say they have been made to feel intimidated by some Camelot staff.

Image caption Nic Connor, a guardian at a former care home, said they were like "squatters with permission"

"We're squatters with permission almost," said Mr Connor.

"Give them [people] the basics, some heating and hot water. Simple stuff, but recognise it as a housing situation."

Paul Lloyd, from Camelot Europe, said the scheme had been "running successfully for many years".

"Contrary to recent claims by a small number of people there is no 'scandal' over this type of scheme," he said.

"The vast majority of those living in properties across Bristol are happy to have accommodation at low cost."

Councillor Paul Smith, who is in charge of housing at Bristol City Council, said he was reviewing property guardianships in council-owned buildings.

"I would be very concerned if we were to try and use this process again which would involve people living in those sorts of properties without the proper conditions," he said.

The housing charity Shelter said it did not want to comment on this case but in its blog said it recognised there were some people who liked being a guardian - particularly the young, mobile and those willing to move at the drop of a hat.

"Property guardians have rights that they can legally enforce, the exact nature of which will be determined by the type of building they inhabit and the parts they have access to."

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