Fatima Djabra stayed with friends to avoid appalling conditions at her flat in Brixton, south London, where the ceiling collapsed and fungus grew on the walls.
Photo: Fatima Djabra)
A woman who left her flat because she feared her ceiling could collapse has been awarded just £30 in compensation.
Fatima Djabra said fungus and mold was growing on the walls of her south London flat in Brixton, where a huge hole in her ceiling had left leaks and debris on the floor.
The social housing tenant, in her late 50s, spent four desperate months living with friends after her kitchen ceiling collapsed in December.
But she still had to pay £504 a month rent to Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) for the flat while paying council tax and part of her friends’ bills.
Fatima had hoped her housing association would reimburse her rent in full for the inconvenience of staying elsewhere until she returned to her flat in April, reports My London.
But the association refused to reimburse him the full amount and instead awarded him a meager £30 compensation following his complaint about the delay in repairs.
“I was worried about my own safety, that’s why I moved, but MTVH totally ignored that point,” Fatima said.
MTVH told Fatima that she would not be repaying her full rent because she had decided to leave and self-decant from the house before the repair crew could confirm whether it was necessary.
But Fatima insists her flat had become unsafe and she was getting no response from her housing association.
“When I read the apology letter, I was so upset that I didn’t even respond,” she continued.
“It was an apology letter because ‘I chose to walk out’, so I was punished.
“They said ‘it’s your choice, it’s your choice to leave the apartment’.
“So it looks like I’m the culprit because I moved out of my apartment, which doesn’t make sense to me.”
Fatima, who works at a nearby school, said the compensation made her feel disgusting because MTVH had failed to understand how disruptive the past four months had been for her.
As a result, MTVH awarded Fatima compensation for “mishandling of complaints”.
This was in reference to the time it took them to resolve the dilapidated issues of his accommodation and to further aggravate his complaints.
MTVH previously said the leak was fixed before Christmas when Fatima claimed she regularly returned to the apartment to empty the buckets used to collect leaking water.
Speaking in March, she said: “I have to go through the same thing, have to fight, have to leave my house.
“But I still have to work and pay the rent and the bills because if I don’t [MTVH] will drive me away.”
Fatima returned home in April after MTVH confirmed the repairs were complete.
But she said yellow stains started to appear on her ceiling, which she thinks could be due to a leak.
The resident also claims that she did not have a working boiler and her sink is still clogged, which was reported to MTVH.
“I just want all this dilapidated shit to stop so I can get on with my life,” Fatima said.
“They’re wasting my time, taking my energy and dragging me down.
“I can’t do this anymore, they abuse me emotionally.”
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Another problem is that MTVH staff would not show up for appointments or arrive unannounced while Fatima is still at work.
“I told them I couldn’t afford to miss another day of work, but I’m totally ignored again. I’m back to square zero,” she added.
Fatima received £190.40 on top of her £30 award after taking legal action, but 30% was deducted to help with legal costs.
A spokesperson for MTVH said: “We understand Ms Djabra’s frustration. Quite simply, everyone wants and expects to be comfortable at home.
“That’s why we continue to work to fix things. It’s unfortunate that recent work hasn’t solved all the problems.
“However, our colleagues have since visited Ms Djabra’s home to assess what work is now required and we are responding.
“To this end, we have been in contact with Mrs Djabra about a boiler appointment and we will also soon be able to confirm a visit date for our repair team.
“Ms Djabra was unhappy with the way her initial complaint was handled. This was thoroughly investigated and concluded that we could have handled things better, for which we sincerely apologize. .
“The compensation awarded related solely to the manner in which the complaint was handled.
“We know that moving people from their homes is a very important step. That is why the decision to decant was entrusted to a professional surveyor, whose expert opinion was based on our decision.
“At the same time, we know that Ms Djabra has experienced disruption and distress during this time. We want Ms Djabra to be happy at home.
“As such, we will continue to work with her to ensure any necessary repairs are completed as soon as possible.”