'I'm scared in my own home, thanks to housing charity'

A man living in sheltered accommodation says he feels scared in his own home after members of staff from the housing provider Brunelcare attempted to enter his flat without his permission. But in response Alan Farrell's complaint, the firm said the correct procedures were followed.

Mr Farrell complained that two men from the charity knocked ‘aggressively’ on his door on March 22 and insisted to be let into his flat at Rowan Court in Barton Hill. The Brunelcare workers then used a key to try and enter the flat but were unable to gain entry due because of a door chain.

In his complaint, Mr Farrell said members of staff had previously entered in 2022 without a pre-arranged appointment. He says since complaining he has since received a letter threatening legal action against him. Brunelcare said that although legal proceedings have not been carried out, due to the tenant’s non-compliance, such measures would be the next step in this case.

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Mr Farrell told Bristol Live that he has seen a deterioration in his mental health since moving into the BrunelCare-managed property in Barton Hill.

He said that he now keeps his door bolted and other than his weekly visited to support his elderly mother, he rarely leaves the house. He said that when he moved into the flat in 2019 he complained about noise from a neighbour, but that was never taken seriously. A Brunelcare spokesperson has said that the noise complaints were fully investigated.

Mr Farrell has CCTV cameras in his flat, which shows members of staff entering his flat while he was out in the 2022 incident. BrunelCare stated that the member of staff who was new to the company ‘was only following instructions’ but was unable to confirm if any Health and Safety checks were carried out that day.

Mr Farrell said: “What they need to remember is this is sheltered accommodation, you can’t just turn up. These are old people living here. You need to make an appointment and make sure the person is in.

“They need to look at the kind of business they are running. You can’t just turn up at people’s doorstep because you can get scammers knocking at the door. If I didn’t have the chain on the door, they could have entered while I was getting dressed or in the shower.

“They have never done any health and safety checks before so now they are using it as an excuse to get into my flat. I’m being harassed and it’s not the neighbour anymore, it’s them. I told them that it’s affecting my mental health and they've done nothing to assist me in five years.”

A spokesperson for Brunelcare said: "We are sorry that Mr Farrell has had cause to complain regarding a recent entry to his property. We take any complaint from our residents very seriously, and as in this case, they are fully investigated.

"As a sheltered housing landlord, Brunelcare has a regulatory responsibility to routinely carry out health and safety checks in all of our tenants' properties. Earlier this year, colleagues made several attempts over the course of around a month to reach Mr Farrell to arrange one of these regular checks, but did not receive a response. As a result, out of a genuine concern for Mr Farrell's welfare and wellbeing, staff visited his property in order to carry out a welfare check.

"Brunelcare is committed to supporting all of our residents, some of whom are older and vulnerable. Part of our role as a landlord does involve entering residents' properties to ensure that the environment is safe and fit for habitation, but we work with residents in order to conduct these checks in the least disruptive way possible. We are more than happy to discuss with Mr Farrell how we might improve this process in future.

"A previous complaint made by Mr Farrell in 2021 relating to claims of antisocial behaviour was extensively investigated at the time by Brunelcare, including with involvement from external agencies. Despite numerous efforts, we were not able to find any evidence of the noise nuisance which Mr Farrell described.”