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Lambeth Mum Forced To Wait Months For Repairs To ‘Unsafe’ Council Home

Lambeth council estimated the repairs would take ‘four weeks’ but the mum-of-two has been waiting months.

Cliona Addison, 33, was living in a home with leaks, damp walls and broken tiles for almost a year. Before Lambeth council moved her and her two children into temporary accommodation in June. The tenant claims the council have not made contact with her since the family moved into the accommodation and does not know when she is expected to return home.

Earlier this year, Lambeth council told My London that repairs to Cliona’s home will begin “once the home is empty” and estimated it would take “four weeks to complete, subject to drying out.” Now, three months on, Cliona says that she is still waiting for repairs to be completed in her home and is still living in temporary accommodation.

Cliona told My London: “They haven’t assessed it. I don’t personally feel like they can move me back there and, if they do, it’s going to take a long time for it to get better. “No one has gone to assess the damage, only random plumbers and electricians who call [me] up. I don’t know who I’m supposed to turn to now?”

Cliona visited her Lambeth home two weeks ago and had to kick the door down as it was swollen due to the leaks. She said: “The house is so messed up and the door was so swollen. I had to kick the door to get it open, the door can’t close now. We couldn’t shut the door, I had to leave it unlocked.” The mum of two described feeling “insecure’’ as a result of living in her temporary accommodation. “I’ve not had a housing officer or a liaison call me… Nobody has contacted me whatsoever, they’ve just left me in temporary accommodation,” she claimed. “I’m desperate because I don’t want to wait until Winter. It’s going to get cold and wet and I’m worried about transferring all my stuff in the vans.”

Cliona moved into the Lambeth property as a council tenant in July 2019 and dealt with a leak just four months later. She said: “The bathroom light has plastic casing [and] was full of water. We realised when the light was flicking on and off. “The [resident living] underneath me said this has been ongoing before I moved in.”

As a result of the issues at her home, Cliona said she experienced a “breakdown” whilst her son suffered with throat issues “due to living in a wet, mouldy, damp flat for more than 18 months.” The family are still waiting for those repairs to be made to their home in Lambeth, three months after moving into their temporary accommodation.

 

(Source)

A Story Of Shocking Conditions And Tenants Despair At A Lack Of Action

For the past six months, ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt has been travelling the country uncovering the shocking conditions being endured by some people and families living in social housing – homes owned and run by local councils and housing associations.

In a documentary – Surviving Squalor: Britain’s Housing Shame – to be broadcast on ITV on Sunday at 10.15pm, he hears first-hand from residents being forced to live for months or even years in unsafe and uninhabitable properties – some are overrun by damp and mould, others have fallen apart in front of tenants’ eyes. The documentary asks why some of the most vulnerable in society are being failed by a housing system that consistently ignores their concerns, fails to fix their problems, and offers them nowhere else to go.

On Christmas Day 2020, Fransoy Hewitt woke to prepare lunch for her two young boys. Despite everything, she was determined to make it a special day. Coronavirus had all but cancelled Christmas for the south of England, but the pandemic was the least of Fransoy’s concerns. A month earlier, a small but persistent leak in her living room, which she had been reporting to her landlord Croydon Council for over a year, suddenly began to spread, taking on a new ferocity.

No longer confined to a small patch of her one bedroom flat, water began leaking from the kitchen ceiling, into the bathroom, the hallway and across the living room. Water cascaded through light fittings, soaking the floors and destroying the family’s possessions. Fransoy’s living room was so sodden and cold, within days it was no longer habitable. She placed buckets, and the plastic bath she once used to bathe her baby boys, under the drips, emptying them every few hours.

The kitchen became plagued with thick mould. Black, furry spores saturating the walls and ceilings, growing on plugs and in cupboards and spreading onto their food. No matter how much Fransoy wiped it away, it soon came back. She continued to complain repeatedly to Croydon Council throughout November and December. Maintenance workers would sometimes be sent out. They turned off the electricity to their fridge, and the lights in their bathroom and hallway, to prevent electrocution, but they never fixed the leak.

They would have seen the water dripping into buckets around the flat, and walked on the sodden floors, their shoes squelching. They would have seen the mould-infested kitchen and smelt the unbearable stench of damp that hits you the moment you walk through the door of the flat. And yet the leak went unfixed, for months. So on Christmas Day 2020, Fransoy woke to make lunch for her two sons in this one bedroom council flat. Water dripping around her, she prepared their dinners and plated up, as the boys sat down at a small wooden table in the living room, the steadily-filling baby bath at their feet.

As she handed them their food, water began dripping onto the table. Determined that they should eat Christmas dinner together as a family, and with nowhere else to sit, Fransoy grabbed an umbrella. She held the umbrella above her sons heads, while they ate their Christmas dinners. Fransoy told me this story when I first met her 10 weeks later, in March 2021. I saw for myself what those maintenance workers would had seen. I saw the horrific conditions that Fransoy had reported time and time and time again to Croydon Council.

She showed me the logbook of all the calls she had made and the emails she had sent to the complaints department. Such was Fransoy’s lack of trust in the council, she meticulously noted the dates and times of every phone call, should they ever question her.  Her desperation was palpable. She had turned to the media in a last-ditch effort to get her and her sons out of a flat she genuinely feared would kill them.

(Source)

The Man Struggling To Breathe In A Council Flat ‘Unfit To House Humans’

See the conditions Mehdi has to live in, including a leak running down his walls found to be contaminated with faeces – the flat has been declared to be “unfit for human habitation”

“Please be careful with all the water. Don’t slip,” said Mehdi Sheikh when he led ITV News Correspondent Daniel Hewitt into his home as part of our investigation into the country’s housing scandal. Living in among mould, and as we later learned, faecal contamination, he is used to trying to stay safe and healthy despite the odds. Mehdi suffers from chronic back and leg pain, which affects his mobility, and says the squalor he lives in is only adding to his problems.

“This is what’s making my breathing really bad – day in, day out,” he said. I’m waking up at night with a breathless fatigue because I’m feeling suffocated in here. My chest is feeling congested… I am on literally on the verge of nervous breakdown.” Mehdi says he now has to rely on a respirator to get by.

For 17 years he’s lived in this council flat in south London. Last November a leak, that went unfixed, has now left his home uninhabitable. He’s placed towels and rugs down on top of his carpets in an attempt to soak up the water. They make little difference and are sodden when we arrive.

“They get squeezed out twice a day. And obviously they get put on again and by next morning, that’s how they are.”

We asked Jeff Charlton, an environmental health inspector, to assess the flat and his findings confirmed Mehdi’s fears – and more. The extractor fan in the toilet was the wrong way around, “actually blowing air in, instead of extracting damp air out”. He found a “100% chance of electrocution” at points in the property. Worse still, he said he could assume the leak was not just water.

“I don’t know whether that’s sewage just dripping through, bath water, a leaking pipe… but I must assume that it’s contaminated.” His predictions were proven correct when bacterial analysis we had conducted on the water leak indicated “significant faecal contamination”.

Lewisham Council’s own independent inspection of Mehdi’s property also found the conditions were “unfit for human habitation”. The response has been “simply pathetic,” Mehdi says.

“Nothing has been done whatsoever. Because they don’t have to go and live like the way I am living. It just feels like living in a slum. And I just simply don’t know what to do. [I feel] totally helpless. I don’t feel like even going in there because it stinks. I don’t feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel like a home.

(Source)

Family Of Five Forced To Live In Travelodge After Mould ‘Hell’ In Collapsing Home

Jenni Bamblett’s home in East Malling, Kent was so damaged her kids were able to put their hands through the walls.

The 31-year-old claimed the floor was also collapsing and she felt as though she would pass out whenever she went into the house. Jenni said she and her family have been unable to get Covid jabs due to the health effects they’ve suffered from living in their mouldy house. The problems with the home started a year after the family moved in during November 2016, she claimed.

Jenni told Kent Live: “The boiler and radiators were leaking and I also found damp patches on the ceiling from the radiators. The floor was also collapsing and there was a massive big gap in the front room. It was absolutely horrible to have this happen in my own home.”

Jenni said it was particularly hard to look after her kids in the home given some of them are on the autism spectrum and require extra care. “It’s basically been hell, I just want to break down and don’t know what to do or where to go,” she said.

Jenni has had to pay for her family to stay in hotels to get away from the house, and has pleaded with the landlord to fix the problems. She has been receiving treatment for chest infections and her entire family has been prescribed inhalers.

(Source)

 

Social Housing Tenant’s Cry For Help: Get Me Out Of This ‘Hellhole’ Flat

After three years of water leaks, mould has permeated a resident’s home. And other London & Quadrant tenants are also living in appalling conditions.

The Kent flat is owned and managed by London & Quadrant (L&Q), one of the UK’s largest housing associations, and she says that years of unresolved damp and defects have led her to contemplate suicide.

The 60-year-old, who is bipolar, was moved to the property in 2018 after leaving a women’s refuge, also run by L&Q, and claims it was damp from the outset.

 “I was told that it was that, or nothing,” she says. “The mould has got so bad it’s in my food cupboards, destroying my possessions, and my mental and physical health, but when I complained I was just given a bottle of mould spray.”

Matters came to a head in June when leaks from the flat above caused the bathroom ceiling to collapse. L&Q removed the debris, but declined repeated requests to move her to new accommodation.

It only accepted that the conditions were insanitary when the Observer intervened, and is now seeking alternative accommodation. It has also agreed to pay compensation for the damage to her possessions.

An Observer exposé of appalling living conditions in 2018 prompted L&Q to commission an independent investigation, and it promised reforms following the investigator’s critical findings. Three years on, it is still failing to address reports of unsafe and insanitary accommodation, according to tenants who have contacted us.

Antaine O’Briain, a resident of an L&Q block in west London, says he and fellow residents have spent six years trying to resolve damp problems and rotting windows.

“Rainwater drips on to the electricity meter cupboard. Some residents are scared to open their windows for fear the frame will fall out, as has happened already. None of the flats has adequate central heating, and the basement is so overrun with vermin refuse collectors refuse to enter the bin area,” he says. “L&Q promised renovations would begin in 2018 and then, in 2019, but nothing happened and the place is falling apart.”

L&Q blamed the delays on the planning application process. Scaffolding was erected last month, two weeks after the Observer got involved.

(Source)

 

Brixton Man Lives In Flat So Bad The Ceiling Has Collapsed And It’s Leaked For Years

It followed years of complaints from tenants about leaks and flooding.

A Brixton dad says he is “numb” after his ceiling collapsed following years of leaks and flooding in his flat.Basil Clarke’s kitchen and living room ceilings fell in on July 25 after heavy rains. It followed a string of severe leaks over the past seven years. Videos taken in his home over the years show water pouring through light bulbs, destroying his furniture, and leaving his floor covered in inches of water.

The 51-year-old lives in Holles House in Brixton, where many of his neighbour’s flats are also water damaged and prone to flooding. Basil believes his complaints to Lambeth Council have “fallen on deaf ears”. He said: “They don’t even care – I’m becoming numb towards it. Everybody’s just dragged their feet so much. “It’s given me so many anxieties, but I just don’t expect anything anymore.” After a damning ITV London report aired last week, Lambeth Council offered Basil another flat. He said: “I want to get out of here – I’ve had too much of this. To be honest I don’t want to move, I’ve been here for nearly 12 years and it’s my home. “But I couldn’t go through all this again. They’ve taken liberty after liberty, they don’t give a damn, and everything has just fallen on deaf ears.”

An 87-year-old man, who lives on the same floor, said he is afraid when he goes to sleep for fear his water-damaged bedroom ceiling will collapse on him. Dick Burke said: “The leaks have been going on for yonks. It’s not just from the roof, it’s the doors and windows. “One of these days the bedroom ceiling will fall in – it’s water damaged and stained. I’m afraid. It could happen when I’m asleep.” Dick has lived in the flat for 40 years. He said the council hasn’t done any work on the ceilings in all that time. He said: “I keep calling them but they don’t want to know. And it’s not just me, we’re all calling them because everybody has problems. “They’ve put up scaffolding but nobody has come to look at the roof. They’re playing mind games with us.”

ITV revealed last week that Basil’s neighbour Adeola Olutade’s ceiling collapsed on her, injuring her arm. Her neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said he heard Ms Olutade screaming after it happened. He said: “I heard her screaming ‘help, help, help’, if that fell on her child, she would have been stone dead. “The council doesn’t listen – they are ignorant and arrogant and they don’t care.” He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that tenants pay their rent and should feel safe in their homes.

‘They Don’t Care,’ Says Hackney Family Living In Mould-Infested Property

A Hackney Council tenant and her young children have had to live in a mould filled property for months.

A Hackney family is distraught after having to live for four months in a property infested with mould. One tenant living at the property, who preferred not to be named, says the problem has persisted since April. “They don’t care,” she said. The woman, who lives in the council property in Stoke Newington with her four children, three of whom have special needs, says they are unable to use both bathrooms due to the mould and the smell it emits.

The mould became a problem, she said, when the council left a pipe leaking after a repair job. It became so pungent and pervasive that the downstairs bathroom had to be “locked up”, but the mould later found its way into the property’s upstairs bathroom. “My little boy, he’s 12, does not want to use the bathroom and the one downstairs is locked up, where are we going to use? “I had to catch water and wash in the room. We can’t inhale the smell in the bathroom and there’s no windows or ventilation.”

The leak also caused electrical damage affecting the lighting in the house, posing a fire risk.  The council attended the property to inspect damp and mould in the bathroom on May 25 and repaired the leak causing the mould on June 9. A building maintenance team attended on July 23 to survey the outstanding work and all electrical issues in the property have been addressed.  Cllr Clayeon Mckenzie, Hackney’s cabinet member for housing services, apologised for the difficulties the family faced.

 

Croydon Mum And Boy, 3, Living In Damp-Riddled Flat So Bad It Rains Inside

A single mum has told how water runs down the walls of her flat when it rains, despite repeated complaints to the council.

Gemma Parker has lived in Longheath Gardens for the past seven years and says she has told Croydon Council about the problems with her flat. She says it has affected her mental health so badly she has considered taking her own life – as she suffers from depression.

Gemma lives with her son Max, three, who has asthma and eczema, something she thinks is made worse from the damp in the flat. When it rains, water runs from the balcony above into the hallway, bedroom and bathroom of the one-bedroom flat. Gemma has recently moved Max into the living room where he sleeps on a bed behind the sofa as it it the area least affected by damp.

The 38-year-old said that Max regularly gets chest infections meaning he misses a lot of nursery and she is worried about the impact this will have on his development. She said: “They have come and done work on it but the problem keeps coming back.“In March 2020 water was pouring down the walls, you were getting an electric shock if you put your hand on the tiled bathroom wall. The structural integrity of the block has gone, it doesn’t really matter what happens.”

The 38-year-old says she cleans the mould and repaints her walls nearly weekly to keep it looking nice. This year, Gemma got the Children’s Commissioner involved in her case. In April a senior child rights adviser for the commissioner wrote to Croydon Council requesting the family are moved as soon as possible.  The letter said: “These conditions cannot be deemed acceptable for a young child, whose environment has significant impact on his ability to thrive, and it seems his mother has genuinely tried all other avenues.”

Gemma says she has been advised by the council to use HomeSwapper, an online service to swap council housing. But the mum says she would not feel comfortable letting another person live in the flat due to the long-term problems she does not believe can be fixed.
(Source)

Mother Of Toddler Slams Council For Giving Her ‘Disgusting’ And ‘Dangerous’ Home

 A mum has complained about a “disgusting” and “dangerous” house she was given by her local council last year.

The mum and her one-year-old son moved into the property, in Cort Crescent, Braunstone, back in December 2020 – and the next six months have caused her nothing but problems, she says. She has had to make a series of complaints to Leicester City Council about a number of problems, including mouldy walls, a bathroom which she believes unsuitable for a young child and a fireplace which was coming away from the walls.

She has also raised concerns about the “dangerous” condition of her garden which has resulted in her son tripping and hurting himself. The woman says she has raised the issues multiple times with the council, but that the official assigned to her home deemed the work needed as “cosmetic” and her “responsibility to fix”. She is now worried about the long-term impact on her and her son’s health, and wants to move to a different property instead of waiting for improvements to be made.

She said: “I’ve tried everything, I spoke to the council officer and he came down and looked around the house. “He told us that everything in the home is my responsibility and that I just need to buy some cheap damp paint, cover it, and paint over it. “He was told that most of the work needing doing was cosmetic, and that I needed to fix it myself. “The issues he reported included damage to the window-frame and door handle, rather than the bigger things that needed doing.

 

 

National Housing Federation Sorry For ‘Unacceptable’ Living Conditions Exposed By ITV News

The National Housing Federation, which represents more than 800 social housing providers in England, has issued an apology and admitted the sector has let down tenants following an ITV News investigation.

The federation, whose members provide homes to around six million people, said living conditions exposed by our reporting were unacceptable.

“Your investigation has revealed stories that are just completely unacceptable, and I want to say sorry to those residents. They deserve better,”, the federation’s chief executive Kate Henderson told ITV News. She admitted a “culture change” is needed in social housing, along with “greater accountability, trust and responsiveness between the social landlord and residents”. “We’re absolutely committed to providing good quality services to residents,” she added. “However what your investigation has shown is that hasn’t always been the case. “Now, this is not the norm, but these situations you’ve revealed are just not acceptable. Sorry might be an easy word to say but it’s absolutely genuine.”

She added: “We know that around 5% of housing association homes do have some kind of damp or mould and we need to take urgent action. “So I’ve been talking to members, since your investigation started airing about what they’re doing. I know some members are investing more money.

Around six million people live in housing associations properties. Similar to council housing, they provide homes at lower rents to people most in need, who cannot afford to rent on the open market. ITV News has learned that the number of complaints to the housing ombudsman about housing associations has risen by 35% in the last three years. There were 7,316 complaints in 2020/21, compared to 5,409 in 2018/19.

But while complaints against housing associations have gone up, so have the salaries they pay their chief executives. The highest earning chief executive earns £436,681, while every chief executive at the top ten biggest housing associations earns more than £284,000. In 2020 chief executives of the ten biggest companies took home, on average, £340,000. While housing associations don’t make profits, they generate additional income by building and selling homes on the open market. Their income has more than doubled from £10 billion in 2008 to £21.2 billion in 2020.

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