Housing disrepair: Mum forced to live apart from children after council refused to make repairs – £5,000 compensation - CEL Solicitors

Mother-of-two Kelly, from East London, was forced to live apart from her children after mould and damp made their bedroom uninhabitable.

The 34-year-old had to send her sons to live with her parents after her complaints to landlord Waltham Forest Council went unresolved for six years.

She had raised disrepair issues with the council soon after moving into the two-bedroomed flat in 2006, but little effort was made to fix the problems, according to Kelly.

Among the issues reported were damp and black mould throughout the living room, bedrooms and bathrooms, with wallpaper coming away from the walls and cracks appearing in the ceiling.

In addition, the council failed to repair the front and back doors at Kelly’s flat that were damaged during a burglary in 2018, leaving her fearful for her family’s safety. The doors were not completely fixed until six months after the break-in.

Following legal action from our expert housing disrepair team, Waltham Forest Council promised to make the necessary repairs and Kelly was awarded £5,000 in compensation in October 2019.

However, the council failed to carry out repairs and, almost one year later, Kelly is still waiting for the issues to be resolved in full.

Kelly said: “When I first moved in, it was clear that there were some disrepair issues throughout the flat – for example, the ceiling in my bedroom was uneven and on the verge of collapse.

“I alerted the council but was told it couldn’t be fixed so my father ended up sorting it out for me. The damp and mould in my sons’ bedroom got so bad that there was no way they could sleep in there, so they had to go and live with my parents for around 18 months.

“It was heartbreaking that I couldn’t be under the same roof as them and I had to have my dad drive me to their home about 20 minutes away, or sometimes would have get a taxi there, in order to see them.

“Although the mould has improved now because of some repairs being done, meaning they’re back at home with me, some of the issues are still not fixed, despite the council promising to do so.”

In February 2020, we launched a second case against Waltham Forest Council for breaching its agreement to make repairs to the property within the specified timeframe.

Kelly added: “Taking legal action was a last resort but, after years of complaining with nothing being done, it was the only option.

“Despite my case settling and the council admitting fault, there are still unresolved issues. The council has blamed Covid restrictions for the delay but they had almost six months to fix the problems before lockdown came in, so I do feel it’s an excuse.

“The team at CEL were incredibly supportive from the beginning and, by pursuing a further case for the council’s breach, they’ve proven they’re committed to getting my repairs done.”

The disrepair issues at Kelly’s home fall under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which came into full force in March this year, creating a legal obligation for both social and private landlords to ensure their properties are safe, healthy and free from hazard.

Amy Tagoe, director and housing disrepair specialist at CEL Solicitors, said: “The fact that Kelly’s children had to live elsewhere due to the state of their bedroom is devastating and simply unacceptable. Kelly spent years asking for repairs to be carried out to her home, but nothing was done, forcing this family to be separated.

“We’re now working on a further case for Kelly. Waltham Forest Council have still not carried out repairs and are therefore in breach of their agreement. We’re dedicated to making sure the matter is resolved so that Kelly and her children can enjoy their home together.”

If you’re experiencing housing disrepair issues similar to Kelly’s, get in touch to find out how our expert team can help and support you to get the necessary repairs and the compensation your deserve. You can use this contact form or call us on 0151 909 8212.