Residents on an estate have been waiting for more than a year for landlords to fix their mouldy and damp living conditions after a town hall ordered an investigation into the properties.
More than 50 tenants on the St Martin’s Estate in Tulse Hill have complained about serious damp and mould problems in their accommodation, which they say affects their health and quality of life. Gary Downey, a tenant of the estate, says he has suffered the financial and emotional cost of living in a damp flat for 16 years.
He said: “Had the housing associations acted earlier, the survey could have been completed by now.
“Every complaint feels like a battle – there is usually no response.” “It’s the same old story from all of them, ‘old buildings have issues, open your windows more, close the door when you use the shower, put lids on pans when cooking, don’t dry clothes indoors, use the fitted extractor fans’.
“I did all of this, yet I still have damp. There must come a time when the landlords admit that they must do something permanent to help us. “I cannot express how deeply distressing it feels when you have to cope with a damp property. “It’s not just dealing with the moisture, the smell and effects of what damp can do to your belongings.
“But the thought of coming home after a long day’s work especially in the colder months fill me with dread and hopelessness.” In July 2019, Lambeth council agreed to appoint an independent environmental health officer to conduct an inspection of the most affected housing blocks but the residents say that the housing associations failed to provide the necessary documents or access to allow the work to begin.
The series of delays meant that the survey was unable to be carried out before the Covid-19 lockdown. The estate is managed by three housing associations: Metropolitan Thames Valley, Optivo and Notting Hill Genesis.
Margaret Cooper says her 91-year-old mother, Josephine Rooney, has lived in damp conditions for nearly 20 years.
She said: “Two of the ceilings in the property have holes in them because they’ve been rotted by damp.
“My mum has Alzheimer’s, she’s not very mobile, and living in a property with damp has affected her health. “We can’t afford for her to get a cold, let alone Covid, and we’ve had some scares with her breathing where she’s ended up in hospital.
“My mum is a very vulnerable person but the only place she wants to be is her own home.”
Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, deputy leader of Lambeth council, said: “The residents of St Martin’s Estate shouldn’t need to fight so hard for their homes to be repaired.
“All housing providers in Lambeth have a responsibility to make sure that people’s homes are warm, dry and safe.
“Private landlords and housing associations are not exempt from this responsibility. A spokesman for Metropolitan Thames Valley said: “We are aware of issues with damp and mould at some of our properties on St Martin’s Estate. We continue to work with the residents and the local authority to resolve these issues.”
A spokesman from Notting Hill Genesis said: “We previously carried out investment works to those blocks within our management to address the mould and condensation issues. This was completed in March 2019.
“We continue to work closely with our residents to deal with day to day repairs and are sorry to hear that some residents are experiencing problems.
“We have regular meetings with the TRA and other housing associations represented on St Martin’s Estate, as well as the local councillors, to ensure that we are working together to address issues across the estate.”
A spokesman from Optivo said: “We’ve had a specialist consultant carry out a full external structural survey of our blocks at the end of last year and the independent assessments indicated there are no major issues.
“We’re sorry to hear some residents are experiencing problems. We are not aware of any outstanding mould and damp issues and remain in close contact with the Tenants’ and Residents’ Association.”
Pictured: Estate residents outside Lambeth Town Hall
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