Housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa brought to attention the “uninhabitable” conditions endured by a Canonbury family
By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Embarrassed Islington town hall bosses have ordered a review of all investigations into damp and mould over the last two years as they admitted the response to a family left in an “uninhabitable home” was not good enough.
The Executive member for housing Una O’Halloran appeared before the scrutiny committee with apology to any council residents whose homes are beset by damp and mould.
It follows revelations by housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa of the “uninhabitable” conditions endured by a Canonbury family who have had to move out of two bedrooms because of serious problems caused by a leak, mould and sewage seeping through the walls.
He said the family complained a year ago and the problems had not been dealt with.
“Mushrooms now grow from the bacteria where sewage has seeped through the walls and ceilings in the bedroom,” he said.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he will be keeping a close eye on the repairs.
Cllr O’Halloran said: “This is not good enough, we should never have allowed it to happen.”
The council is now investigating what went wrong and urgently rehoused the family whilst much needed repairs are carried out. Officers said they are also contacting neighbours to check if they have similar problems.
They said: “We believe the cause of the ongoing water penetration at the property is in service distribution pipework tht’s embedded in the concrete floor of the property above.”
“It is absolutely unacceptable.”
They said staff visited and did repairs to the home but were not effective and case was not escalated to housing bosses highlight on the impact on the household and the case is bringing in culture change.
“When they visit despite the technical skill they are not just there to carry out the repair they are also there to look at the wellbeing of residents. It is important that we make those changes.”
The upstairs neighbours are also being rehoused so the serious problems highlighted by Mr Tweneboa can be put right.
Cllr O’Halloran pledged extra resources to tackle mould and damp problems and will review reported problems on damp and mould over the last two years.
Damp, mould and condensation complaints in Islington council homes accounts for five per cent, or 2-3,000 cases a year.
The council is also setting up a dedicated phone line and email for residents concerned about damp and mould. Residents can book surveyors and get advice from the new service.
They are also working with health experts about the impact on residents.
“It’s not good enough if your home is damp and you don’t feel safe, children are suffering and adults.”
“We’ve got to get it right.”
The councillor, who is a former housing scrutiny member herself, said: “We want you to hold us to account. We can’t go to other partners to hold them to account if we’re not putting our own house in order.”
Mr Tweneboa responded on Twitter: “Really really hope I don’t have to return and highlight anymore cases of uninhabitable homes in Islington. Listen to the needs of your tenants. Don’t wait for ‘lessons to be learnt’. ”