Residents of a block of flats have told how they endured years of “sheer hell” after a string of nightmare tenants terrorised the building, set it on fire and threatened anyone who dared to call the police.
The flat in Rossie Place, off Easter Road, has been dubbed the “house of horrors” following a string of vandalism, violence and antisocial behaviour from a long line of youths with behavioural issues.
Although the organisation responsible for the tenants – the Rock Trust – agreed to rent out the flat privately in 2007 after one resident threatened to beat up his neighbours, it quietly introduced a new supported resident to the tenement a fortnight ago.
Within days of moving in, a raucous house- warming party turned violent, leaving the new tenant with serious head injuries after thugs battered him around the head with weapons fashioned from furniture in his flat. Another tenant was also physically assaulted and others were verbally abused.
The fights eventually filtered on to the street and the Rock Trust’s 21-year-old tenant was rushed to the ERI with serious head injuries. There is still blood on the neighbouring door and in the stairwell.
Residents Carol Powers and Grant Scullard said they had endured a decade of “sheer hell” and likened the party to a “riot”.
The couple, who have lived there for 15 years, have kept a diary since 1999 to document the violence and abuse they have endured.
Over the years, they have experienced
n the property being set alight by a dropped cigarette
n attacks and threats to residents
n a TV being thrown out of the window
n doors being kicked in
n loud music at all times of the day and night
n tenants throwing bottles from the third-floor windows
The Rock Trust has now apologised to the residents of the block and said the new tenant would not be returning to the property.
Although the organisation has agreed to sell the flat, Ms Powers and Mr Scullard said it was “too little, too late” and blasted The Rock Trust for going back on a promise to inform residents if a supported tenant was ever moved in to the flat again.
Mr Scullard said he was scared the stress could trigger his epilepsy and Ms Powers had to sign off sick following the trauma of the party.
Ms Powers, 41, said: “As soon as The Rock Trust bought the flat, there were instantly problems in the block. We’ve had screaming, shouting, violent arguments and have endured what can only be described as sheer hell throughout the years.
“It all came to a head in 2006 when one person in the flat started threatening the other residents for calling the police, and The Rock Trust agreed to privately rent out the flat. For a while it was fine. Then, a couple of weeks ago, they moved a guy in and some issues started. There was a lot of loud music and then on Friday night he said he was having a housewarming. I cannot stress how terrifying this became. What started out as good-natured shouting turned into shrieking that was frightened and argumentative.
“Police later said they were making improvised weapons in the flat. At one point we heard one of the party-goers shout ‘Let’s go fighting’ and it seems like they did.
“There was a full-blown riot going on in the stair. We have never had to call the police about any other flat and, over the years, people have been hounded out of this block. It has been like living under siege.
“Kenny MacAskill got involved in 2006 after we sent him letters asking for help, and they wrote to us to say it would be privately rented accommodation from now on and we’d be informed if this changed.
“The Rock Trust do not seem to respect the residents that have to live in this environment. They were only interested when an MSP got involved.”
The trouble started in 1999 after a couple who moved in would often get into violent fights, once ripping a radiator off the walls and causing the flat below to flood.
In 2002, another tenant set the flat on fire after dropping a cigarette. In 2003, serious issues with a second couple led Ms Powers to keep a diary of events.
Mr Scullard, 38, said he would be interested to know if any other Rock Trust tenants had caused similar problems.
He said: “I think the worst thing about all of this is that they claim to be helping these youths, but in my experience they have never had a good result at Rossie Place. For us, this has been a reign of terror.”
Tom Byrom, senior manager of the charity, said that the property was now up for sale.
He said: “The Rock Trust can confirm that an incident took place at one of its residential properties in the early hours of Saturday, August 27. The tenant of the property was assaulted and sustained injuries which required hospital treatment.
“The incident is currently being investigated by police.”
When asked if there had been similar troubles in other Rock Trust properties, Mr Byrom declined to comment.
Malcolm Chisholm MSP said he found the reports “very concerning” and would be raising the latest issues with the organisation.
Lothian and Borders Police said an investigation was under way following the riot at the party. A spokeswoman said they were following a positive line of inquiry.
The Rock Trust is a 20-year-old charity that works in Edinburgh and West Lothian with homeless and socially excluded young people between the ages of 16 and 25.
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