May 30, 2015
Highbridge couple's despair at flat's ongoing severe damp problems

A Highbridge couple who say their flat is suffering from severe damp have called on a housing association and the industry's ombudsman to help them.

Joe Chatwin and Rachel Yarnall-Chatwin say they are suffering from ill health due to the ongoing problems at their flat in Caxton Road, Highbridge.

They are unhappy at the response of housing association Stonewater and have called on the help of a local councillor and the ombudsman.

"There's severe damp, lots of leaks which haven't been sorted, which are spreading out of the bathroom into the hallway and moving into the bedrooms and hallway cupboards," said Joe.

"We are living with severe damp - I have gone to the doctors with severe headaches and my three year-old son suffers from really bad eczema which is getting worse."

He added: "The whole of our flat smells of damp. Neighbours in the communal corridors tell us that they can smell the flat - that's how bad it's got."

"I suffer from various health problems that mean I feel the cold. As soon as you walk in here, you freeze - I can't leave the doors open to air the flat like the housing association have told us."

He added: "In an ideal world, they need to rip the whole flat out - the bathroom and bedrooms would go. Failing that, all we want is a proper house to live in. We can't carry on in this way."

Rachel is also expecting a new baby soon which is adding to the couple's concerns.

Highbridge councillor John Parkes has taken up their case and is trying to help the couple.

He told this week: "Trying to get in touch with senior officers at the housing association has been met with no response at all. They talk on their website about providing 'quality homes for residents'. Clearly, it's not providing that."

"It makes reference to its Customer Care Charter and Complaints Procedure with x number of days to respond to people. In this case, this has been going on since March of this year and at the very least I would have expected a senior manager to get in contact with the couple to actually come out and visit the property to try and resolve it, but they're not looking to try and help."

Meanwhile, the couple's case is also being followed up by Highbridge Residents Association, which is providing help and support, as pictured below.

Stonewater spokeswoman Wendie Gardiner told this week: "We are aware of the customer’s concerns and have been working to resolve the issues. Damp was reported to us on 12th March, followed by a further report of a leak in the bathroom on the 13th."

"An assessor visited the same day and repairs to the leak were carried out on the 16th. In relation to the reported damp, our surveyors have visited on two occasions and the residents have been advised on methods to help address condensation, which is often caused by cooking and laundry methods."

"The case will be reviewed in depth as part of our response to the Ombudsman, who contacted us on the 19th regarding a formal report about the damp. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with the family, who have raised a series of other complaints with us relating to a wide range of issues, with the aim of reaching a successful conclusion."


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