A DAD whose partner caught pneumonia and died has SUED his landlord for £400,000 for leaving the house without heating or hot water.
Timothy McDonagh says Kelly Naghten, 32, died because their “cowboy” landlord didn’t do enough to make sure their “freezing” north London house was in a habitable state.
The couple had been forced to put up with slum-like conditions at the home in Roedean Avenue, Enfield- with walls covered in mould and rain puddling on the floor.
But Ms Naghten then tragically died after a bout of flu led to pneumonia and sepsis in January 2016, he says.
She left behind her four devastated young children and her partner, who is now suing their former landlord Ali Bolat, who he blames for her death.
Mr McDonagh says Mr Bolat bodged boiler fixes himself, meaning it frequently cut out, leaving them without heating or hot water so that the house became like an “iceberg”.
But Mr Bolat, who owned the property as a rental investment, has denied the allegations and says Mr McDonagh is “exaggerating” and that problems with the house were always fixed quickly.
Central London County Court heard this week that the couple moved into the house in Enfield in 2014 and claimed to almost immediately have problems.
And the issues worsened during the winter of 2015.
When the couple contacted Mr Bolat to deal with the boiler issues, he carried out “amateurish” repairs of his own, which failed, causing them to lose the heating again.
When he complained about having no hot water, he was told to get it from the electric shower above the bath.
In the witness box, Mr McDonagh, now 48 and living in Islington, said: “My family was torn away from me – I was happy, it was lovely”.
He told the judge he considered Mr Bolat to be a “cowboy,” claiming the property had been “very drafty” due to gaps around the windows, while Kelly had frequently had to scrub mould from the walls.
On one occasion, rain had poured into the house, leaving puddles next to plug switches, he continued.
Their complaints were eventually met with a threat of eviction, he added.
Kelly fell ill before Christmas 2015 and was admitted to hospital, but she discharged herself and was back with her family for the holiday.
But she became ill again in the New Year and, having developed pneumonia and sepsis, died in hospital on January 30, 2016.
Mr McDonagh said: “I have lost my wife and have four little kids to bring up.
“Kelly was the most beautiful, loveliest girl you could have seen.
“This isn’t about me, it’s about my four little kids.
“Kelly was the best mother ever to her kids. She loved her children, they were her world.”
Barrister Nicholas Baldock told Judge Alan Saggerson that Mr Bolat’s own attempts to fix the boiler were “futile and amateurish.”
When he eventually had it inspected by tradesmen, “numerous issues” were identified and it was replaced in January 2016.
He said: “It was only when he engaged properly qualified tradesmen that electrical and plumbing problems were resolved.”
Mr Baldock argues that Mr Bolat was in breach of his obligation to repair the property in a timely manner.
That led to the house being “cold and damp” which contributed to the severity of Kelly’s condition.
But for Mr Bolat, barrister Michael Leemy said: “It is his case that the premises were not in physical disrepair to the extent that puddles formed on the floor or that mould formed on the walls.
“Whilst repairs to the hot water and central heating system boiler were required, these were carried out within a reasonable period of time and therefore the defendant is not in breach of his obligations.”
A cold and damp house would not have contributed to someone contracting flu, he added, since it is passed by person-to-person contact.
He claimed that accounts of mould and damp were “exaggerations” by Mr McDonagh and other members of Kelly’s family, who gave evidence.
But Chloe McDonagh, a niece of the couple, said the smell of damp in the house was “overwhelming” and that the family had had to “huddle around a heater” to keep warm.
Giving evidence himself, Mr Bolat insisted that any issues with the house were dealt with promptly.
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He had never seen any damp in the house, he insisted, and had even gone onto the roof to check when his tenants complained of leaking rainwater.
The electrics and boiler had been checked by professionals when he bought the house, he added.
And although he was not a plumber, he has a background in engineering and knew his way around a boiler, he said.
The judge will give his judgment on the case at a later date.
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