Pitcairn House resident feels ‘gaslit’ by council over constant humming noise in his flat

Pitcairn House. Image: Google

A Pitcairn House resident said he feels “gaslit” by Hackney Council after being told there was “no evidence” of an incessant humming noise he has lived with for 18 months.

The Town Hall is under pressure from residents to tackle the many problems reported on the estate in central Hackney.

The man in this case, who does not want to be named, also spent six months, including winter, without heating or hot water.

“I’ve not had a decent night’s sleep for a year and a half,” he told the Citizen.

“The noise is the worst in my bedroom, so every night I go to sleep on my sofa with the TV on to drown it out.

“Then I wake up at around four or five in the morning and I’m so tired that I can finally get into bed and sleep through the noise.

“It’s deeply affected my mental health.

“I’ve been complaining to the council about the noise since it started, and for ages, when I’d ring the repairs team, they would tell me there’s no record of my previous complaint.”

His complaint has now been raised to stage two level, but he said that when workers from the council came to inspect the problem earlier this year, they couldn’t hear the noise.

The Citizen can confirm the presence of the noise, which can also be heard in other areas of the building.

“I know what happened: before they came to my flat, I found them downstairs, having turned off one of the water pumps,” the resident alleged.

“So when they came into my flat, the noise had stopped. Of course, it started again in the evening after they left.”

He said he felt “fobbed off” and accused the council of “trying to stage a cover-up”.

“After, the surveyor sent me a long email confirming they didn’t hear any noise, but that they would look more into the issue – it’s months later and I’ve heard nothing,” he added.

The resident said there have been previous investigations into the cause of the noise, but that he’s been given different answers by different repair workers.

A spokesperson from the council told the Citizen: “We have taken all reasonable steps in response to the reports of noise by the resident in this flat.

“The block has a boiler house which means there are main boilers with pumps providing the complete block with heating and hot water.

“We have changed pumps in the block when they become defective, but we have not noted the noise levels claimed by the resident, despite several visits to his flat, or received reports from other residents in relation to noise.”

When asked why the surveyor turned off the water pump when he came to investigate the noise, the spokesperson responded: “There have been several visits by surveyors with various investigations carried out.

“We don’t have a specific record of the hot water pump for his home being turned off, but if it was, this would have been part of the investigation to find the source of the noise?”

The resident said: “To me, it’s clear that there’s another issue with one of the pumps, but they just don’t want to replace it.”

He also had to make several phone calls to Hackney Council and its contractor TDK, which manages 72 communal heating systems across the borough, before his heating and hot water was restored.

“TDK never turned up, or even got in contact with me,” he explained.

He said that six months later, after repeated complaints to the council, a supervisor attended and told him the issue was an “easy fix” caused by his thermostat.

The Citizen asked Hackney Council how it audits its contracted workers, to which it responded: “We have monthly review meetings with all contractors we use and carry out a sample of post-repair inspections to ensure they are meeting the standards we, and our residents, expect from them.”

When asked why it took six months to restore hot water and heating to the resident’s flat, a spokesperson replied: “We have a number of intermittent reports in relation to the heating, mainly reporting the alleged noise.

“The last visit attended by our in-house team in April reported the batteries in the room thermostat required changing.”

The resident said: “After all this – and not having any heating and hot water – I started withholding one week’s rent per month to try and get them to do something about the noise.

“Instead, they handed me an eviction notice.”

The hot water and heating bills are included in the rent for Pitcairn House.

“Being a tenant of the council makes you feel like you’re just a speck, like you’re nothing,” the man said.

“I’d describe it as like death from a thousand paper cuts.”