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Serious neglect from council, can anyone give any advice?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hey, I'm Lolicia :)

Around three years ago I had to move back in with my mum after my dad died, because she fell ill with cancer. The council flat she lives in has always been in a bit of a shabby state, but not as bad as some... But that was in the beginning.
Since living back with her, with my two children and partner, the property has suffered many damages. Mainly from the flat above.

Through out the years of my mum and dad living here, there has been a number of occasions where they've suffered with a major leak. Once from the previous owner leaving the bath running, and the other from a leaking roof above the lounge. As far as I know about those times, my mum did report the damages to the council, but they didn't really do anything about them.
It was actually last year, Christmas when we suffered the biggest leak, or I should more say flood from the upstairs flat. On Christmas Day we noticed water literally pouring down the bathroom wall. It was pouring so much, that it actually started to turn the plaster to mush! Along with causing a hole in the ceiling from where the water was coming. Our neighbour at the time had returned off holiday on that day and told us that he came back to find his flat completely flooded out. When my partner when to look with the neighbour, they discovered that the flood came from the heavy rain that was also pouring through the neighbour's roof.
This flood / leak went on for at least 2 to 3 weeks. It wasn't just coming through one part of the bathroom. It was also dripping through the ceiling above the bath and bathroom windows, above the kitchen windows, and above the front and back doors.
My mum immediately reported this to the council. A man came to look at it, but he stated that he couldn't do anything because they didn't have the keys to the neighbour's flat. (By that time the council had moved our upstairs neighbour out into another property).
So, over the next few weeks we either heard nothing, or their pathetic excuses for why the council weren't doing anything. After new year, I overheard a conversation my mum was having on the phone to a woman in Lambeth Living. When my mum asked why she kept being ignored and fobbed off, the woman replied "if your ceiling isn't actually caving in, we can't do anything about it". To be honest I couldn't believe that she was spoken to like that. But no matter how many times we visited Lambeth council or rang them up, we just got transferred back and forth, and got nowhere.

It's been nearly 10 months since that flood. We've had to put up with all the damages ourselves. The bathroom wall that was severely is literally covered in mould. Along with a few of the other rooms in the property affected by damp and mould. My room has always suffered from a serious mould problem, especially in the built-in wardrobe. Which is why I can't store anything in it. The amount of clothes and items it's destroyed is unbelievable. And what's worse is I don't always have the money to keep replacing things, or buying plastic boxes to store my clothes in.
The room where my two children sleep, also has a bad damp and mould problem. Mainly around the window and along an external wall. Again, I've had to throw many of their damaged toys and clothes away because of this.
All the external walls in the flat. (The one in the children's room and in my built-in wardrobe are apparently not built properly. When a workman came to survey the place, he told us that the external walls were too thin, which was why the rooms were so cold).
Many of the windows are not fitted properly, so the flat can get really cold in the winter.

I have been literally pulling my hair out, not knowing what to do. I'm worried for my children, because they seem to fall ill with colds and stomach bugs more than normal. I have an illness myself, which I must admit, even I can feel the affects of everything. My mum is disabled, and has a constant nasty cough and bad breathing. (The flat doesn't even have the needs and aids for her disability either). My mum also has a stoma, which she needs to change regularly in the bathroom. She won't do it in there due to the state of it, so she results into doing it in her bedroom. We believe the damp and mould has also caused a nasty rash around her stoma as well.

We want to move out of here as soon as possible, but getting anywhere seems so far away... My mum is obviously the main tenant, so I can't really do much about it. And to tell the truth, trying to get her to do anything can be an utter nightmare!
Lambeth Council have been ignoring and neglecting us for years. My mum has previously taken the council to court before over a previous property in 1999. But we just feel like it's a never ending problem with them.
Ideally, my partner and I would like to be given a place separate from my mum, due to personal reasons, but that also doesn't look likely. We've also tried getting into Bromley council, because my grandparents are there, though they've denied us every time.

I have heard that many people in Lambeth, especially in the same area as us have suffered from the same damp and mould problem, along with the neglect. So I've ended up thinking that Lambeth must have a reputation for doing this.
If anyone has any advice on anything we can do or try, that we haven't thought of. Maybe even a better way of going around this situation, I would be very grateful.
Thank you. :)
P.S. I've also considered a housing solicitor, though like I've previously said, trying to convince or push my mum to do anything can be a nightmare... :banghead:


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    Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi Lolica and welcome to TheSite :wave:

    This forum is set up for 16-25s to get peer to peer support on any issues they may be facing. There are also mods on hand, like myself, to help out and offer additional support and links to other resources and suggestions for help.

    From what you've posted it sounds like you're really in need of some professional Housing advice as well as some big hugs! *hug**hug* It sounds like you and your family and your mum have been through an absolute nightmare with the flooding and leaks in your home and the lack of action from your local council in regards to repairs. I'm also sorry to hear about your mum's cancer disgnosis, it sounds like an exhausting and difficult time for all of you and it's not wonder you're worried about your children's health with all the damp and mould.

    I wonder if you have spoken to your local CAB or to Shelter? Both can provide advice on Housing issues and help you to understand your rights as well as what options might be available to your mum and to your family.

    There may also be local services in your area that you can find out about using our Local Advice Finder: http://www.thesite.org/community/localadvicefinder

    A quick search brings up this Advice service in Lambeth which might be useful for you as they provide advocacy services too. They also have a website here: http://e-voice.org.uk/advocatesadvisoryservice/ Could certainly be worth paying a visit?

    Do keep us posted and let us know how you're getting on :)
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