Shacklewell residents demand better housing conditions
Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Julia Gregory
Frustrated residents on a Shacklewell estate have taken their concerns about damp, mould and flooding to housing association bosses.
More than 100 people signed a petition demanding “that all residents should be able to expect that their flats are of a safe and good quality standard, free of mould, leaks or floods”.
They said they are fed up of problems at their flats in 1930s blocks at Evelyn Court on Amhurst Road. The five storey buildings include two and three bedroom flats and there is also a community hall on the estate.
The residents also asked their landlord, the Industrial Dwellings Society (IDS), to guarantee its 24-hour call-out pledge and communicate with them.
The residents are members of the London Renters Union, which is running the campaign.
Frank Olaleye, a former letting agent, said: “The problems on the estate vary from damp to mould, to blockages in sinks and flooding in the car bay areas outside.”
He added: “Some people have experienced problems with slugs in their flats.”
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He said some residents have asthma or stress which they fear could be impacted by the problems in their flats.
Olaleye had damp and mould in his kitchen and bedroom: “It makes you feel nausea. No matter how much you heat the flat, you have to open the window because of mould.”
He said it was a headache during the winter, because “you can’t get warm enough and you will get a cough”.
One mother-of-two said she did not let her young daughter close her bedroom door because of the mould there.
She also had slugs but was concerned about using pesticide because of her young children.
Amanda Ranger was worried about the health of her two children, aged eight and three.The repairs team had to treat mould behind paper in her bathroom after a water leak.
“There’s mould in my child’s bedroom,” Ms Ranger said. “My daughter is constantly picking up a cold.”
The retail worker added: “It’s very stressful in the winter because of the problems. In the summer everyone has their windows open.
"In September the stress is beginning.”
Fed up with having to buy specialist cleaning products, she said: “We deserve to live happily and comfortably.”
Gladys Runganaikaloo said she has to keep treating mould on the walls in the flat she has called home for 28 years.
She has to treat it with bleach and mould paint but the problem keeps on returning.
She had suffered with her toilet, the sink blocking in the kitchen, as well as issues with the radiator.
A spokesman for IDS said: “We are aware of ongoing issues with damp and mould and have been dealing with individual cases as they’ve arisen.
"The damp and mould issue is mainly due to the age and construction of the estate.”
He added: “There are many other properties built in the 1930s of the same architectural style as Evelyn Court throughout London, and we are aware of a significant number of those facing the same issues.
“While we have been proactively repairing individual cases as they were reported to us, we have been concentrating our already constrained budgets towards upgrading the fire safety features in the block, which can save lives on a large scale.”
He added: “This in no way diminishes the importance of the damp and mould problems, which remain an important part of our ongoing repairs and management programme at Evelyn Court.”
He said staff met residents and will investigate concerns and draw up an action plan to deal with them. IDS pledged to meet residents in six weeks to discuss progress.
The spokesman went on: “We have now had our minds focused by our residents and vow to instil within our teams an ongoing culture of prompt and positive action towards repair requests and complaints.”
IDS said regular estate meetings are on its agenda and it has started regular surgeries and visits to every resident at Evelyn Court.
Find out more about London Renters Union at londonrentersunion.org
Advice when renting from a housing association can be found at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/social-housing