Hackney Council apologises to elderly man forced to abandon his home after a leak

The state of the hallway carpet on 7 February. Photograph: courtesy a local resident

Hackney Council has apologised to a vulnerable man after he waited nearly two months for a leak in his flat to be repaired.

The elderly man was forced to abandon his home at Cropley Court on Wenlock Barn Estate near Shoreditch Park and seek refuge with family.

A broken stack pipe had caused a flood in the property, and the carpet was left soaking wet for weeks after the leak was first reported as an emergency on 12 December by another resident.

Mould and slime have since appeared on the surface of the floor, a new video taken on 7 February shows.

The damp has also attracted swarms of flies and the smell is pungent.

A frustrated neighbour said the water has affected the apartments underneath.

“It has gone into the structures,” the man warned.

The neighbour’s demands to have the leak repaired went unanswered for weeks, which left him feeling “hopeless”.

Nearly two months after the leak was first reported, and after the Citizen contacted the council, contractors turned up to take a look at the damage.

Now the council’s housing services director Steve Waddington has apologised to the vulnerable man and to “anyone else in the block waiting for work to be carried out”.

He said the contractors have fixed the leak and the council is now looking to repair the damage to the man’s home and the one below it “as soon as possible”.

The repair took “longer than it should have”, Waddington admitted, which he said was partially due to the availability of materials.

His team has visited the resident to explain the “work needed and how long it should take to complete”.

The council’s interim chief executive Dawn Carter-McDonald told a scrutiny panel on 30 January that housing was an area where “we know that we need to make improvements”.

“We have made a commitment in respect of reports of damp and mould [to visit] within five days, and to visit reports of leaks by the end of the day,” she said.

The average time of damp and mould inspections in October last year was 4.92 working days, down from an average of 38.86 days in February last year, Carter-McDonald revealed.

The Housing Ombudsman is expected to conduct an investigation into the council.

Waddington also apologised to Cropley Court residents for problems with their lifts.

“Unfortunately lifts are occasionally out of order due to breakdowns and we apologise for the inconvenience residents may have experienced due to lift breakdowns,” he said.

“To ensure breakdowns are kept to a minimum all lifts are serviced once a month and we monitor their performance.”

He said that one of the lifts has broken down twice in the last 12 months – once for two days and once for six days. The lift in question has been back in service since 19 January.

Waddington explained: “Unfortunately sometimes we have to wait for parts, which can delay the repair.”

“Considering residents’ fear of getting stuck in lifts, we have a dedicated reporting line for lift trappings and an emergency response,” he added.

“In the last six months, there have been no reports of people stuck in lifts at Cropley Court.

“In the previous six months, there were three occasions when people were trapped in the lift at 25-88 Cropley Court, all of which were dealt with immediately.”