Legal row erupts over tribunal ruling

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Val Slater Councillor Val Slater

A BRADFORD firm which provides student accommodation has had its membership of a Government-approved Code of Standards removed.

But Malik Halls Ltd, which operates two purpose-built student complexes near the Bradford College and the University's campuses, is challenging the decision and seeking legal advice.

The company had its membership of the scheme withdrawn following a full meeting of the Code's Complaints Tribunal Body.

That means the Students Union will be advising students to avoid renting from the firm in future.

Complaints against the company were that it failed to unblock shower and toilet drains within the timescale set down in the code and failed to deal with the 'bleep' noise made by low battery power in a smoke detector.

It was also found to have failed to protect a student's deposit under an approved scheme within 30 days of the money being handed over and failed to respond to written correspondence about repairs within the correct timescale.

The complaint was made through a national code.

But manager Othman Dakhil has challenged the decision and said: " We do not accept the findings of the tribunal and we will appeal the outcome and are taking legal advice.

" We own and manage over a thousand student rooms and for us to be removed from the code over a single minor complaint is just beyond our understanding. Our accommodation is of the highest quality within the area.

"We accept that we registered the deposit late due an administration error."

A blocked shower drain had been cleared within 24 hours and the smoke alarm system was monitored, with the firm disputing that it was making a noise.

"We use the code as our bottom benchmark as our accommodation and management is of higher standard than the code, for example 98 per cent of our repairs/maintenance are undertaken within 24 hours compared to the five days allowed by the code"

The tribunal finding means Malik Halls Ltd cannot re-apply for membership of the code for the next 12 months. The code is operated by the Accreditation Network UK.

The Chair of the Complaints Tribunal, John Martin, said “Given the evidence presented to it, the Tribunal had little option other than to make the decision it has. The Tribunal would like to thank the student who pursued this complaint for bringing the failures of this provider to its attention.”

Andy Fitzpatrick, General Manager of the University of Bradford Students’ Union, who were represented on the Tribunal, said: "Because of the current over-supply of student accommodation in Bradford, especially purpose-built halls, it is vital that both existing and potential students know which of the providers they can trust to deliver a quality, well managed product. In our view it is only those providers who are members of this Code can do so.”

Cllr Val Slater, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for housing, said student accommodation should be professionally managed.

“The Council will continue to work with its partners at Unipol, the University and College and its landlords to ensure these standards are achieved,” she said.

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