A FURIOUS landlord is facing a £30,000 bill after her property, which had been rented out by Colchester Council’s housing team was wrecked.
Nikki Lancaster owns a property in Grantham Road, Great Horkesley.
She had been letting it out via Colchester Borough Homes homefinder scheme since 2009.
But problems began to arise three years ago when Nikki said Colchester Borough Homes failed to arrange meetings to discuss problems with the house. She said she has only just taken back possession of her property.
Nikki said she is now facing a huge task to get the property back up to a liveable standard.
She said: “I managed to get access back to the property this week.
“Colchester Borough Homes are not doing enough to help and are not pulling their weight.
“I have been asking them for three years to look at it, and arrange a meeting between myself, the tenant and them but nothing has happened.
“I’m now left with a job of practically rebuilding the house because the damage is so extensive – it will need a kitchen, bathroom and central heating system. All of it has got to be done.
“So many faults were not reported – how am I supposed to fix them if I don’t know about them?
“The house had always been quite untidy when I visited early in the tenancy and the garden overgrown to the point I would mow it myself.
“It became clear quite quickly she is not all she said she would be, but at least she realised we were at the end of the road and she had to leave.”
Ms Lancaster, who lives in Suffolk, was given a major compensation payout after proving she lost her leg in October 1989 as a result of medical negligence following a motorbike crash.
She used the cash to invest in a small portfolio of properties and believed letting through Colchester Borough Homes would be the safest option.
But she has been left furious at the service, which she also used for another of her properties, which was destroyed by a fire.
She said: “This money came to me and I decided to invest in property.
“I was told you get support and help and they would vet the tenants properly. I thought by using Colchester Borough Homes they would assist me.
"I think the way the council has acted has been awful – my advice to anyone else would be not to put your property into one of these kind of schemes.
“Now I am still trying to arrange a meeting with the chief executive but I am getting nowhere.”
A council spokesman said: “We spoke with Nikki Lancaster at length and understand the tenant vacated at the end of last week, leaving the property in a poor condition and owing substantial rent arrears.
“Ms Lancaster has only recently contacted our housing options team, who supported her to draft a notice to bring the tenancy to an end and recover any monies due to the tenancy.
“An inspector from Colchester Council’s private sector housing scheme also visited the property with Ms Lancaster, yesterday, and we are expecting a report from him today to confirm the extent of the damage, in order to agree a claim against her deposit for damage."
He added: “We are sorry Ms Lancaster’s experience of renting through the homefinder scheme has ended in this manner, particularly as the relationship between landlord and tenant appears to have been successful for a number of years.
“We are keen to reassure and encourage Ms Lancaster and other landlords to continue to use our homefinder scheme to find tenants.
“Unfortunately there is always some degree of risk for landlords but our scheme does provide comprehensive advice and support and a damage deposit scheme which are intended to mitigate whenever difficult situations arise.”