Residents of an independent living retirement scheme in Hackney have spoken out in distress over a catalogue of problems with their housing which their local councillor has warned is so severe that “lives could be at risk”.
Sanctuary Housing advertises Lynnett Court as “high-quality housing for older people which allows residents to live comfortably, securely, and independently whilst in the knowledge that help is there if they need it”.
The scheme is for over-60s or people over 55 who receive personal independence payments or disability living allowance.
However, Lynnett residents have spoken of problems with their fire alarm system, non-functional emergency pull cords and intercom systems, mice and cockroaches, and broken-down lifts, leaving people already shielding during the coronavirus crisis feeling insecure and cut off.
Patricia Johnson, 79, said: “We’ve had no outside communication for three months. Our whole system has broken down.
“You can’t get in from the outside because the intercom does not work, and we have had no emergency pull cords for each flat. None of them work. The lift at the front has been broken down for five weeks now, with two or three elderly and housebound people upstairs.
“People have been shielding anyway, but the broken lift means people have been trapped. At the back of the building, there is a lift that serves three flats, and that has been broken down for a year.
“We’re all getting older. There’s nobody young in here, so it is quite a worry. Nothing is happening. It is really bad. We never hear back, all we get is bloomin’ excuses. We get passed on from one housing manager to another, so we’ve just given up.”
Johnson added that circumstances at Lynnett Court were “frightening”, praising Hackney Wick councillor Jessica Webb for attempting to escalate complaints with Sanctuary, but adding: “We don’t know what else to do or who to contact. I’m not being morbid, but you never know when something can happen. We have some really vulnerable people in this building.”
Cllr Webb said: “Door intercoms, emergency cords, fire alarm systems and working lifts are basic essentials in such accommodation schemes. The worry is that while these don’t work, residents’ lives are not just inconvenienced but could be at risk.”
A Sanctuary spokesperson apologised for delays to repairs at the scheme and voiced understanding of the frustrations of residents at Lynnett.
The housing association added that now that lockdown restrictions have begun to ease, Sanctuary will “aim to complete the work required as soon as possible”, including finalising plans for a replacement warden call and door entry system and the carrying out of lift repairs.
The spokesperson said: “We can confirm the communal fire alarm system at the scheme is working and that we have ensured our fire team regularly reviews the safety procedures at the scheme to ensure they are up-to-date.
“In addition, our area manager has written to residents to provide appropriate safety advice relating to the block, and the scheme manager for the property is continuing to make regular wellbeing calls to residents over the phone during this unprecedented time.”