A MOTHER of two disabled children said has been forced to endure persistent damp in her home, with her landlord failing to rehouse the family.
The 34-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that the family, including her partner, her 12-year-old son who is autistic and 11-year-old daughter who is currently going through a diagnosis process, moved into the Clayton-le-Moors house in 2016. Since then, the property has been plagued with damp, mould, a leaky roof and cracked windows but the family has not been rehoused by Onward Homes.
The mother said: “I break down crying every day, because I don’t want my children living in a place like this. “It’s why I don’t like cooking in the kitchen or bathing in the bathroom, because of the damp and the mould.” She added: “I’ve been to counselling, because it’s been getting to me so much.”
The mum was forced to give up her job because of the extra care her children require, however this has meant that renting somewhere else privately has been out of reach while claiming Universal Credit has meant they don’t qualify for additional help. Ideally, she would like to be rehoused near her network of family and friends in Clitheroe and for health reasons, having been diagnosed with a spinal disorder that is likely to worsen.
The mother-of-two said: “They’re refusing to rehouse me. I’m sleeping in the living room because I can’t sleep in that bedroom with the cracked window and mould spores. “Me and my son are both asthmatic which is dangerous for both of us.” She has now been in touch with a solicitor in an attempt to secure a settlement from Onward Homes, however she still hopes to be rehoused.
See the appalling and dangerous conditions some people in a tower block in Croydon have been forced to live in for months.
Since 2019, residents of the tower block on Regina Road in South Norwood have been complaining to their landlord, Croydon Council, of leaks in their flats – leaks that have now turned their homes dangerous and uninhabitable.
It is impossible to put into words the appalling conditions we found people living in, in Croydon, south London. Not even the pictures you can see below do justice to the dangerous squalor residents, some of them young children, have been forced to endure for months.
Before you even see the black mould and the damp inside the flats, you can smell it in the corridors. Before you see the water falling from the ceilings and coming down the walls, you can hear it: the tortuous, continuous drip, drip, drip of dirty water into buckets. The damage is so bad, it has been described by both the chief executive of the UK’s biggest housing charity, Shelter, and the former chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive as the worst housing conditions they have ever seen.
There is no doubt that poor housing discriminates. According to the government’s latest English Housing Survey, 33% of mixed White and Black African households live in a non-decent home compared to 18% of White households, . A “non-decent home” is one with no modern facilities, no effective insulation or heating, or is in a state of disrepair. Thirteen percent of mixed White and Black Caribbean households are more likely to have damp problems compared, to just 3% of White households.
A mum-of-four whose cramped home has been plagued by rodents, damp and mould has pleaded for help to give her children a ‘healthy and happy’ house to grow up in.
Kellie Sullivan says her two-bedroom house in Oldham, Greater Manchester, has been littered with issues. First Choice Homes, who manage the property, have apologised for the ongoing problems and have pledged to resolve the issues – alongside assisting her in getting a new home.
She said: “I’m just at the end of my tether now. It’s so overcrowded, we’ve only got one storage space so I’ve got nowhere to put anything. We’ve been living out of bags for four years. I can’t find the clothes I’m looking for, it’s chaos 24/7. I clean this house constantly because the smell of damp just gets to me otherwise. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and they want to induce me in a few weeks which is going to make our living situation even harder.”
Kellie has had to throw out countless pieces of furniture, clothes, and even carpets that have been ruined by the damp in the house. Some items have to be moved into the garden to stop them causing more problems before they can be disposed of properly. With rubbish in the area, Kellie also has to deal with rats in her garden and mice inside her home.
L&Q has apologised after a window fell from the fifth floor of one of its blocks in north London, landing on the patio of a ground-floor flat below.
No one was hurt, but the 105,000-home landlord admitted it was a “shocking and worrying incident”. Residents have been advised to keep their windows shut while L&Q “urgently” carries out a full inspection, although the association said its surveyors have assessed there is “no further immediate risk”. The window fell on Saturday morning from a block at L&Q’s Bourne Place development in South Kilburn, Brent, completed in 2013. The frame and pane plummeted from their place on a fifth-floor flat to the ground. Scattering glass and debris onto the patio and bouncing further into the pavement and cycle lane, according to a resident.
A formal complaint to L&Q, seen by Inside Housing, claimed that the window had been only slightly open and that it landed just metres from screaming pedestrians. It added that there have previously been issues with glass balcony doors falling from their hinges. The block is one of thousands across the country affected by the building safety crisis. Even some residents unable to sell their homes.
A woman says spending the coronavirus lockdown stuck in a flat “riddled with damp and mould” has made her ill.
Kirsty Hampshire says she suffers from asthma and her mental health is at “rock bottom” after more than a year of breathing in damp and mouldy air at her council flat in the Dollis Valley Estate, Underhill. The walls of the flat have been covered in black and green mould that is caused by a leak from a balcony in an upstairs flat. But despite telling the council’s housing arm, Barnet Homes, about the leak in November 2019, Ms Hampshire says workmen only turned up to fix it last month.
“I am having to use an inhaler,” she said. “If I go for a walk, I get out of breath – but I never used to. I have never had asthma or any breathing problems before. It is making me so depressed. I haven’t slept in a bed since October 2019 – I am sleeping on the floor in my living room. All my belongings are ruined, and everything smells damp and mouldy.”
Ms Hampshire told neighbours had told her the flat’s previous tenant was moved out after complaining about damp in the flat, meaning it had been an “ongoing problem”. She added that after more than a year of inaction, workers “all of a sudden” arrived to put up scaffolding and fix the leak after she told Barnet Homes she had contacted a newspaper. Ms Hampshire stated she felt the problems had been “brushed under the carpet” because the flats are set to be knocked down.
Homes are failing to meet minimum standards of safety, comfort and repair.
Hundreds of council-owned homes in South Yorkshire are failing to meet minimum standards for safety, comfort and repair. The latest government figures reveal that at least 1,273 properties owned by councils in South Yorkshire failed to meet the Decent Homes Standard at the end of March 2020. A “non-decent” home is defined as one that fails to meet the statutory safety standards, does not provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort, is not in a reasonable state of repair, or does not have reasonably modern facilities. A housing charity has warned that this can include issues such as damp, mould and faulty heating, which can have a significant impact on tenants’ physical and mental health.
Only a small proportion of council homes in South Yorkshire are not considered in a fit state to live in according to this criteria – just 1% of the total number. However, only the properties that local authorities have been made aware of are included in the count, meaning the true number of council homes in this state could be higher. The figure ranges from no council-owned homes classed as non-decent in Doncaster, to 4% in Barnsley, where the council said it was investing heavily in its housing stock with a £121m cash injection approved for the next five years.
The 1,273 non-decent council-owned properties in South Yorkshire in March last year were up from 1,201 in March 2019. That’s despite councils in the area spending a combined £11.0 million on making non-decent homes decent in 2019/20, and at least £1.2 million preventing more homes from becoming non-decent in the first place (although Barnsley did not provide a figure for this). It is estimated that councils in South Yorkshire would need to spend at least a further £17.0 million to bring all non-decent homes in the area up to standard.
Across England, 76,814 council homes were known to be non-decent as of March 2020 – up from 71,259 in March 2019 and 70,324 in April 2018.
Excessive cold and damp are some of the problems blighting rented homes in Leeds.
More than 17,000 privately rented homes in Leeds need urgent improvements to reach acceptable living standards, a report has claimed. Excessive cold, damp, disrepair and fire safety issues are some of the problems faced by one in four of the city’s 70,000 privately-owned tenanted homes. Housing chiefs in Leeds say more is being done to punish “rogue or criminal landlords”, while helping to support good landlords – while stressing most of the city’s privately rented accommodation is acceptable.
The city Council report stated: “One in four of the private rented sector has at least one or more category 1 hazards present in their property. The main hazards found in the sector are excess cold, falls, disrepair, fire safety and damp/mould. Again the highest level of properties with hazards are within the inner areas of the city. Unfortunately the most vulnerable, the young and elderly who tend to be on low income are generally found in the poorest quality privately rented homes in the city.”
New laws introduced in 2016 gives the councils powers to take legal action against landlords, meaning landlords failing to improve living standards could be fined up to £30,000.
Councils made up the five landlords with the worst record on complying with orders issued by the Housing Ombudsman within three months last year.
- Manchester City Council, which owns nearly 16,000 homes, had the worst record in the sector in 2019/20 – it only complied with 20% of orders inside of three months and complied with 80% inside of six months.
- Dacorum Borough Council, Newham Council, St Albans Council and District Council and Corby Borough Council, in that order, were the other landlords which performed worst at complying with orders inside of three months.
- Newham Council tied with Manchester for the lowest percentage of order complied with after six months at 80%.
- Gateway Housing Association, North Tyneside Council and Origin Housing, in that order, made up the other landlords among the five with the lowest percentage for this metric, according to the performance reports.
- Redbridge Council had the highest maladministration rate of any social landlord in England; it was subject to at least five investigations by the ombudsman in 2019/20.
- Shepherds Bush Housing Group (SBHG) had the second highest maladministration rate with 83%, while Gateway was third with 80%.
Manchester City Council, Newham Council or Redbridge Council did not respond to a request for comment in time to be included in this article.
Renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions.
- Renters protected with ban on bailiff enforced evictions extended until 31 March
- Exemptions in place for the most serious cases
- Part of a wider package of support for renters during the pandemic
Renters will continue to be supported during the ongoing national lockdown restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced today (14 February 2021).
The ban on bailiff evictions – which was introduced at the start of the pandemic – has been extended for another 6 weeks – until 31 March – with measures kept under review in line with the latest public health advice.
Exemptions remain in place for the most serious circumstances that cause the greatest strain on landlords as well as other residents and neighbours, such as illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.
The measures are part of a wide-ranging package of support the government has provided to protect renters from the economic impact of the pandemic, including supporting businesses to pay staff through the furlough scheme and strengthening the welfare safety-net by billions of pounds.
Landlords are also required to give 6-month notice periods to tenants before starting possession proceedings, except in the most serious circumstances, meaning that most renters now served notice can stay in their homes until at least August 2021, with time to find alternative support or accommodation.
For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Laws designed to make sure dangerous cladding is removed has left many flats un-mortgageable and unsellable.
The call comes ahead of a parliamentary debate about protecting tenants and leaseholders from unsafe cladding. The National Cladding Taskforce would seek to carry out an urgent audit to establish the extent of dangerous materials on buildings. Demands include providing upfront funding to remove deadly cladding, setting absolute deadlines to make homes safe, laws to protect leaseholders from being billed for historic fire safety costs, pursuing those responsible for installing cladding and stamping out rogue building practices.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Millions of people have been sucked into this crisis due to years of dither, delay and half-baked solutions from the government. For many leaseholders, the dream of home ownership has become a nightmare. They feel abandoned, locked down in flammable homes and facing ruinous costs for repair work and interim safety measures.”
It comes more than three years after the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people. A fridge-freezer has been blamed for starting the fire but dangerous cladding on the building was blamed for its rapid spread. Laws designed to make sure dangerous cladding is identified and removed has left many flats un-mortgageable and unsellable, with residents facing bills of tens of thousands of pounds to fix the problem.