Council damages wallpaper as part of electrical work to Hatfield house and ‘refuses’ to make repairs

PUBLISHED: 13:43 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:43 27 August 2020

Damage caused by electrical repairs at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council home with the top picture being a hole under the toilet. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

Damage caused by electrical repairs at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council home with the top picture being a hole under the toilet. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

Archant

After a mum was warned by a housing officer that she was to be given a void property in Hatfield that may need a lot of repairs, she felt there was no choice but to take it.

Damage caused by electrical repairs at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council home. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinDamage caused by electrical repairs at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council home. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

In Ella’s words she was “desperate” to move out of temporary studio flat and into space for her child with a garden, shortly after lockdown was announced, in early April.

She said: “I was offered the property and told that the maintenance team needed an extra week to complete repairs. When I picked up the keys, I was in complete shock at how the property had been left and that the council deemed this as acceptable for a mother with a young child.

“Walking through the garden, there were safety hazards everywhere, the garden was completely overgrown and our neighbours told us that a greenhouse was removed and the rotting compost was just dumped at the end of the garden. There was no safe way of getting from the car to the front of the house, the path is all broken with loose slabs. All of the path outside of the back door is broken.

However many of these issues have now been solved or have been promised to be fixed after Ella repeatedly complained to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council but the major sticking point has been repairs to the damaged walls, which were made by the maintenance team during their electrical repairs.

Garden damage that a Welwyn Hatfield Borough council tenant is claiming will not be repaired. Picture: SuppliedGarden damage that a Welwyn Hatfield Borough council tenant is claiming will not be repaired. Picture: Supplied

“The property needs to be re-plastered and [WHBC] is expecting me to spend 1,000s of pounds as a single mother to carry this out on a property that I do not own.”

In response, WHBC has said: “In this case, we rewired the property and will be visiting again to clear the garden, and undertake plaster repairs. We provide decorating vouchers so that tenants can complete cosmetic works, including preparing walls for paint.”

But Ella argues that WHBC will “patch over where they have gauged into the wall” and not carry out real repairs.

Instead, she has been told that plastering and painting must be done on a fixed income when the vouchers – which were reduced from £300 to £200 – are below the cost of the works, which involving stripping back the wall and re-plastering.

Damage caused by electrical repairs at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council home. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlinDamage caused by electrical repairs at a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council home. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin

She added: “The garden maintenance people have also told me that they haven’t been asked to remove the water feature installed by the previous tenant, there is still a large hole that’s just been filled in with sharp rubble and there are sharp steps above it. I’ve reported how dangerous this is for a three-year-old but I’m just being completely ignored.”

A WHBC spokeswoman had added: “If remedial works are needed, they are scheduled and completed in line with agreed timeframes. As much of this work as possible is done before the tenants move in, but often the speed of the move is important where people may otherwise be threatened with homelessness or living in temporary or unsuitable accommodation, in which case we would finish the work after the tenant is settled.

“We’re working really hard to catch-up on issues reported to us during lockdown. We complete around 23,000 repairs every year and closely monitor and scrutinise our performance. For the period April 2019 to April 2020, we carried out 97 per cent of these to the Chartered Institute for Housing’s ‘First Fix’ standard and recorded a satisfaction rate of 90 per cent.”


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