‘What are we paying our rent for?’ Tenants blast council over state of social housing

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

Social housing tenants have hit out at a council, claiming they’re dealing with broken CCTV, faulty lifts and high rents in their tower block. 

Residents of 3 Gundulf Street in Kennington say they’ve been left feeling unsafe in their own homes due to Lambeth council’s alleged failure to deal with ongoing maintenance issues in their building.

Despite facing year-on-year rent hikes, tenants said conditions in the block had deteriorated. 

They claim regular lift malfunctions had left residents on higher floors in the 15-storey block trapped in their flats. 

Meanwhile, antisocial behaviour allegedly flourishes, due to the number of CCTV cameras not in operation.

Mum Sharlett Haye, who moved into the block in June 2020, said the level of service residents were receiving didn’t reflect their rents. 

She said: “When you come up from downstairs you feel like you’re coming into a property that’s not worth the price we are paying for it. 

“It’s dirty. It smells. The security is lacking. People come and yank off the magnetic things that make the [front] door lock. They refuse to give us a concierge.”

She added: “We have CCTV in the property but some of the cameras are duds. It’s unbelievable because packages get stolen. 

“And we as residents have had to confront the people coming into the property. We started to feel unsafe in the property and I still feel unsafe in the property.”

The 46-year-old continued: “The CCTV in the lifts does not work so if there’s any type of harassment in the lifts we can’t report it and there’s a person who gets their dog to urinate on the floor of the lift. I have found a homeless person sleeping in the bin area.

“You are asking me to pay £800 for the property. It’s almost £1,000 per month this year with the service charges. The money went up and everything else went down.”

3 Gundulf Street is located next to the Ethelred estate in Kennington (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)

Another resident of four years, who preferred to remain anonymous, said moving into her flat in the block was the “worst mistake”.

The mum-of-four said: “There are rats and mice down there [in the bin store] nine times out of 10. People don’t put things in the bins and people are smoking on the stairs. The door frame is coming apart from the walls and the walls are peeling away. I had a leak [and] it ruined my children’s birthday cards and my floor.

“It’s almost £215 per week in rent and I get no support. It’s not something you expect from a new build. It has only been four years and nobody wants to live there. 

“People try to swap their homes but the issues with the building are well known. Nobody wants to come and see the properties and swap with you.”

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: “They don’t maintain the hallways and lifts. The lights sometimes go out and the doors are always broken. I don’t feel safe in the building when I get back late.”

A Lambeth council spokeswoman said: “We are determined to provide a good service for our residents that is both proactive and resolves issues as they arise. 

“We have written to residents asking them to stop throwing cigarettes and other things off the balcony, and put a canopy in place to protect the ground floor nursery.

“We have carried out repairs to the lifts and ended the breakdowns, the CCTV is working and one entrance door has been altered to stop non-resident access, and we are in the process of doing the same to another. 

“Where residents are experiencing leaks we will fix them as quickly as possible. The rents for these properties are in line with equivalent social housing.”

Pictured top: Sharlett Haye said the service residents of 3 Gundulf Street were receiving didn’t reflect the rents they were paying. (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)

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