Police find man in basement in inhumane conditions: “I only now know why it smelled so terribly” (Antwerp)


No sanitary facilities, no running water and no heating. What the Antwerp police found last week in the Provinciestraat defies almost all imagination. It turned out that a man had been living in degrading conditions in the basement of a building for several months. In his own words, the man paid rent, the landlord claims to fall completely out of the blue.

jtp, nelo

Friday, May 27, 2022 at 07:59

“A while ago I saw someone crawling out of the cellar hole,” a neighbor of the building in question testifies. “I assumed it was a vandal area because the building looks almost uninhabited.” She is shocked when we tell her what happened last week in the Provinciestraat.

After a report from a worried neighbour, the Antwerp police checked the basement of the building last week. The Center district team found a man who turned out to be living in part of the communal basement.

Need in plastic bag

According to our information, the floor was littered with garbage. There were no sanitary facilities, heating or running water in the room. The resident testified that he relieved himself in a plastic bag, which he then left in a garbage can on the street.

The man’s small mattress was nestled between the power lines, fuses, and open gas pipes. Despite the fact that the sockets were not grounded, there was still a chip boiler in it.

The basement hole through which the neighbor saw a man crawling. — © Joris Herregods

The resident told the police that he paid rent, but the owner of the property strongly contradicts this. He claims he was unaware that anyone was staying in the basement of the property, let alone paying rent. Further research will have to show who is telling the truth.

Odor nuisance

In any case, it remains very strange that the man says he lived in the basement for months, without anyone ringing the alarm bell. “I had already complained several times to the landlord about odor nuisance,” says one of the residents.

“In the hallway it often smelled terrible, a mix of leftover food, cigarettes and urine. The landlord claimed he had addressed the problem, but the stench remained. Only now do I know why.”

The property owner has partially evacuated the basement on the orders of the city and placed a new lock on the front door so that not everyone can just walk in and out. The resident told police that he wanted to stay in the basement.

“We have informed him that he can always go to night shelter De Biekorf,” said Wouter Bruyns, spokesman for the Antwerp police.

The city council of the city of Antwerp seizes the event to remind all residents of the seriousness of the problem. “Slum dairy farms of this level still exist,” says Lauranne Van Dongen, spokesperson for Mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA). “If you notice anything suspicious as a resident, be sure to report it, because these kinds of degrading circumstances must stop.”

Provincial Street.

Provincial Street. — © Joris Herregods