Father-of-four who sublet council flat says he had 'no option' after being let down over boiler repair

A father-of-four who illegally sublet his council flat claims he was left with no option after the council repeatedly failed to fix his faulty boiler.

Levi Soetan was sentenced at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court last August, when he was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and told to repay nearly £5,000, after he admitted unlawfully subletting his council tenancy.

The 45-year-old software engineer has now spoken out, insisting he was not trying to profit but had to move out and needed the money to cover the cost of living elsewhere because he and his children were repeatedly left without hot water and heating in their ninth-floor apartment at Hanover Tower on Exeter Drive in Broomhall.

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“I had no other option. I was suffering and my kids were suffering,” he said. “I had to move out and live with my partner in Leeds but I was still having to pay the rent at my flat in Sheffield. I wasn’t doing it to make a profit but to cover my costs.”

Hanover Tower in Sheffield

Mr Soetan said he had contacted the council repairs team at least two or three times a month when the problems with the boiler began.

But he said when someone was sent out they would simply top up the water pressure and leave, only for the boiler to stop working again a few days later.

Sometimes, he said, switching on the boiler would result in an alarming loud popping noise accompanied by the smell of burning wire.

He eventually decided to move out in April 2019 as he decided the conditions they were living in were not fair on him or his children.

It was only after he eventually threatened to take legal action against the council in May 2021, he says, that the boiler was eventually replaced.

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He says he learned when this happened that the boiler and associated pipes had ‘corroded beyond recognition’, and that the boiler was at least 50 years old and had exceeded its life expectancy.

“Had the engineers made an effort to carry out a through investigation after two or three callouts, this would have been rectified much sooner and I wouldn’t have had to move out,” he said.

Mr Soetan also told how he and fellow residents at the Broomhall tower block had repeatedly complained about an anti-social neighbour living there, who they believed had mental health problems and would frequently shout and urinate in the lift.

“All this was going on at the same time as the boiler issue. It was an absolute nightmare. What I went through was unbelievable,” he said.

The Star has seen numerous council ‘repair receipts’ backing up Mr Soetan’s claims that the flat was repeatedly left without hot water and heating both while he was living there and after it had been sublet.

Following Mr Soetan’s conviction, the council said he would be served notice to quit the tenancy and excluded from getting another council property in the city.

Sheffield Council has been contacted for a response.