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Kilburn man accepts emergency help after dust allergy forces him from home

PUBLISHED: 10:57 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:45 21 January 2020

Omar Ali has been told by Brent Council officers his flat is 'habitable'. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Omar Ali has been told by Brent Council officers his flat is 'habitable'. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

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A Kilburn man with a severe dust allergy has accepted emergency accommodation in Buckinghamshire after battling with council staff who told him his unfinished flat was "habitable".

Omar Ali has been told by Brent Council officers his flat is 'habitable'. PIcture: Nathalie RaffrayOmar Ali has been told by Brent Council officers his flat is 'habitable'. PIcture: Nathalie Raffray

Omar Ali, who lives in Landau House, slept in corridors for a week saying he was unable to re-enter his one-bedroom flat without his dust allergy being triggered.

A new heating system which requires the installation of pipes and smart meters is being rolled out on the state in Chatsworth Road in a project led by Brent Council and Oakray,

Mr Ali was offered temporary accommodation in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, by Brent Council for the three days while work was being carried out. He declined the initial offer saying it was "unsuitable" as it was "30 minutes by train" and the council did not offer him railway tickets.

But since then, following intervention from this paper, he has accepted the flat and been given welfare payments to support his stay.

Panels have been left exposed in Omar Ali Kilburn flat deemed 'habitable' by Brent Council. PIcture: Nathalie RaffrayPanels have been left exposed in Omar Ali Kilburn flat deemed 'habitable' by Brent Council. PIcture: Nathalie Raffray

On January 8 contractors started the work by removing asbestos and helping him put his belongings on his balcony and cover them with a sheet. "I came back on Friday evening after they had finished the work and left the key with my neighbour," he said. "I opened my door and it was a complete mess. I suffer from dust - it's very dangerous for me."

The pipes in the flat are exposed, wooden panels with nails jutting out have been left on the floor and there is dust everywhere.

"I went inside to take a picture to send the council and within a few minutes I got sick, coughing," said Mr Ali, who takes antibiotics for his condition.

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Unable to access Brent's out-of-hours service, he spent the weekend rough sleeping and texting Oakray's contractors, hoping they would find him somewhere to stay.

He said a housing liaison officer told him he might be able to stay in a hotel after he told her of his medical issues. But in correspondence seen by this paper the officer says his flat is "habitable".

Speaking before the resolution, he said: "She insisted I go back. I'm afraid to give them my keys until they give me somewhere to stay. I am beside myself. This is a bad situation. When I handed my key my flat was shiny, no trace of dust. If I stay there I endanger my health, it's very hazardous.

"I've never been confronted by such a situation. I'm quiet by nature but I'm anxious now, too much stress."

Councillor Eleanor Southwood, Brent Council's cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, said: "We are extremely sorry to hear of Mr Ali's health problems and appreciate how disruptive improvement works can be.

"The works are to install a modern heating system along with new pipework throughout, with new equipment and controls, and as part of this there was some asbestos clearing to complete beforehand.

"This has been removed in a controlled environment with no risks to residents.

"Mr Ali was offered alternative accommodation and a container to store his belongings because of the dust during the work.

"The substantive works have been completed but we need to gain access to Mr Ali's property to do the final minor repairs. We will continue to work with him to achieve this as our aim is for Mr Ali to have access to a safe, modern heating and water system."

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