A domestic abuse victim claims she has gone into £3,000 of debt trying to keep warm in winter due to shoddy windows on her council flat.
Mary* has lived in Leigham Court Road Estate for 20 years and has suffered years of problems with damp, cracks in the walls, and leaks.
Lambeth Council bought the 100-year-old estate in the 1960s. It stretches across several streets and is made up of maisonettes, houses, and flats.
Many of the windows are rotting and need to be repaired, but residents say the council is slow to do anything about repairs on the listed estate.
Mary has now racked up a £3,000 utility bill debt trying to keep her family warm during the winter months.
Rotting skirting boards and damp mean a little boy has no room of his own
(Image: LDR Grainne Cuffe)
She said: “I’m not in debt with anything else. I had a debt company today threatening to come to my house.”
Window panes in her flat were replaced last year, but not the frames, so a draught is still coming through.
Mary tried to take matters into own her own hands after waiting for the council to act. She approached two different companies but said she was quoted £6,000 and £10,000.
She continued: “They have promised so much over the years and have never kept to one of them.
“They build everyone’s hopes up and just never fulfil anything – they leave us living like animals and it isn’t right or fair.
“My son is turning nine this year and is sharing a room with me because his room is out of use and has been for years due to the damp and rot.”
The council has offered her £10,000 in compensation but she has refused to accept it until the works are done.
A pensioner’s porch ceiling is damaged over constant leaks
(Image: LDR Grainne Cuffe)
Mary said: “I need the rot and damp gone, new windows, and help to pay off my gas bill.
“I need the money to pay off my debt but until the work is done I’m not taking anything from the council.”
And neighbour Beryl Kilbride said the plaster in her porch keeps falling down because of rain water leaking through.
The 78-year-old said she couldn’t get out the door during the recent downfalls.
She said: “You have to use your heating all the time. In the winter it’s freezing.
“About 10 years ago we went to a meeting and [the council said there would be] new windows and front doors – it’s never been done. It’s a shame because they’re lovely little houses.”
What the council says
A council spokesman said its priority is ensuring its homes are “safe and well-maintained”.
He said: “ Lambeth has invested hundreds of millions of pounds in improving its council homes and estates in recent years, and homes on the Leigham Court Estate have benefitted from improvements including new bathrooms and kitchens under the Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS).
“Lambeth is pushing ahead with a rolling programme of improvement works, including windows, for properties on the estate.
“Leigham Court, as a conservation area, is subject to a number of statutory protections designed to preserve its historic character as a pioneering example of social housing.
“These can present unique challenges for repairs and maintenance – for example, owners are urged to repair, rather than replace, items like windows and doors.”
He said the council has worked with residents over the years to look at the best way to maintain their homes and will continue to investigate any issues.
He added: “The council is radically redesigning its repair and maintenance services to provide better quality, socially responsible and digitally-driven services.
“Since last month, 10 new contractors have been working across the borough carrying out repairs and maintenance jobs to council homes, as part of our drive to improve the service we provide to tenants.”