Story & photos:Alice Carder
Cold, damp and mouldy – not the kind of conditions most people would choose to live in, but that’s exactly how Jane Ferrigan describes the house she shares with her 12 year-old daughter.
Mrs Ferrigan suffers from spondylitis (arthritis of the spine) and relies on benefits to pay the rent on her Whiteways Grove home, owned by Places for People. She lists a catalogue of repairs which have been done badly or not at all.
The single-glazed windows let in cold air and water and mean Mrs Ferrigan struggles to keep the house warm.
“It’s like an icebox in here. I have to keep the heaters on 24/7. The window sills in my daughter’s bedroom have puddles on them when it rains and mould is building up on the wall. She has asthma and is sleeping in that cold, damp room. When the winter comes, I take her into my bed with me to keep warm.”
“Since we’ve moved here, her asthma’s got worse. She has to take her inhaler twice a week now, compared to twice a year before. I’m scared she’s going to die in her sleep”.
Mrs Ferrigan reported the windows to Places for People in July 2009. Two months later, an inspector came to take pictures. Workmen later replaced the windows but left the frames in place, Mrs Ferrigan said. She has resorted to covering the windows with plastic sheeting, stuck down with Sellotape, but says.
“I can’t see out of the windows or open them now because I’ve had to put this plastic sheeting up to try and keep the cold and rain out.”
Three months after Mrs Ferrigan reported a leaking gutter, a workman arrived but said he could only patch it up. She said the gutter had holes in it and it needed replacing. The workman left and she has heard nothing since, she said. It was a similar story when she reported the pot-holes in her path, over a year ago.
“Because of my spondylitis, I find it hard to walk and have to use a walking stick. I’ve fallen over several times because of the holes in the path. They came out and looked at the path but I haven’t heard anything since and that was over a year ago. It’s disgusting. Unless the repairs are only two bob they don’t want to know.”
Mrs Ferrigan also complains of faults in the bathroom since she moved in – a cracked sink, broken toilet cistern and stained bathtub.
“When I moved in, there was a big damp patch on the front room wall underneath where the bathroom is. The bath or the toilet must have been leaking. When I stand in the bath to have a shower, it leans to one side. The joists in the floor underneath are probably rotten.”
“I want something doing,” she said, pointing to the draught blowing against the plastic sheeting on the window.
A spokesperson for Places for People said:
“Places for People take the well-being and quality of homes of our customers very seriously. We are aware of the issues raised by Mrs Ferrigan and will be dealing with the issues in due course. Repairing a number of issues, including the guttering, have been delayed due to recent adverse weather conditions and have been rescheduled to be undertaken shortly.”
If you are a tenant living in social or private rented housing, the Council’s Private Sector Housng can help you if you have difficulties with your landlord. Contact 273 4680.