‘Inhumane’: Ceiling collapses in ‘toxic’ Goodmayes family home despite weeks of warnings to housing association
PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 October 2019
A housing association has apologised after a water-damaged ceiling collapsed in a family home in Goodmayes despite weeks of complaints.
Abdellilah Zdaoudaou, who lives with his wife and seven-year-old daughter in a property managed by London and Quadrant (L&Q), first flagged a problem six weeks ago when he voiced fears that the ceiling in his bathroom was going to collapse due to a leak.
He also complained of a "toxic" smell which was leaving his daughter with itchy eyes.
Six weeks after the complaint was first made, on the morning of his daughter's seventh birthday, the ceiling collapsed.
"There was a huge bang and my wife nearly burst into tears she was so shocked," Mr Zdaoudaou said.
The ceiling in the room next door is also showing signs it could collapse at any moment and he fears the leak will continue to spread throughout the two-bedroom flat, leaving him and his family at risk.
Redbridge Council said a "full investigation is underway so that we can take the necessary action".
The family's flat is on the King George Hospital site in Goodmayes and the accommodation is occupied by key workers, including Mr Zdaoudaou who works as a community care assistant.
Beyond his own flat, the ceiling in the building's communal stairwell collapsed four years ago and has never been fixed.
The carpeted floors are damp and showing signs of mould, water is seeping into the lights, radiators are rusting, and the stairwell window is left open 24 hours a day to get rid of the damp smell and ventilate the area.
One of the residents empties a bucket of water at least three times a day from the leaking ceiling, but no one knows where the liquid is coming from. Even on dry days during the summer, the bucket continues to fill with water.
The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "The corridor has been like this for about four years.
"It's scary when you're walking with kids on the morning. I have to empty all the buckets of water when I come home so people don't slip and it doesn't smell.
"People are scared of slipping down the stairs. It's risky.
"It's dripping in the summer when it doesn't rain, so it's not wet weather causing this."
Back in his own flat, Mr Zdaoudaou had a visit from L&Q six weeks ago to assess the leak. The plumber and builder took photographs and left.
"They disappeared and I didn't hear anything from anyone," he said.
"This should have been flagged as an emergency. But they have 15,000 properties. They don't care."
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Mr Zdaoudaou's priority is keeping his daughter safe and he believes the family should have been moved when L&Q first visited.
"The smell is a hazard," he said. "If I kept animals here, animal welfare would come down hard on me.
"I'm trying to do everything I can to protect my daughter from this. It's toxic."
The smell from the leak hits the back of your throat when you enter the flat and can only be described as a toxic, chemical smell, which leaves you with a headache if you stay inside too long.
Mr Zdaoudaou said it leaves his daughter with itchy eyes when she wakes up each morning and windows have to be left open at all times to get fresh air through the house.
"I have to sleep with windows open, even if it's cold," he said.
"I'm also worried about the electrics and water spreading inside.
"We could be burned alive in the middle of the night. We still don't learn lessons from Grenfell.
"We should have been moved out six weeks ago. You can't keep human beings in this."
He fears the other bathroom ceiling, where the toilet is, will collapse next.
"They need to find where the leak is coming from otherwise it will just happen again," he said.
He said it's not financially possible to move out of the flat, which costs around £1,400 to rent, at the moment.
"If that was the case, I would have gone a long time ago. I shouldn't keep my daughter here," he said.
"They need to provide us with somewhere else to live.
"This is not a humane way of living."
A spokeswoman for L&Q said the company accepted that its service had "fallen short of our usual high standards in this instance".
"We would like to apologise to the family involved for the delay, and we will be offering compensation for the inconvenience this has caused," she said.
"We are currently carrying out the repairs on the property, and expect them to be completed within the next few days."
Redbridge Council said it will "continue to take tough action on landlords that break the law and don't comply with housing standards".
A spokeswoman said: "We take reports of this nature very seriously and a full investigation is underway so that we can take the necessary action."
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