Despite Europe’s largest housing association being cleared by regulators of a standards breach earlier in August, residents living among appalling conditions on a South London estate tells a different story.
Clarion Housing Association tenants from Gladstone House in Sadler Close, Mitcham spoke to My London about the countless problems they have endured while living there.
“The worst thing I ever did was move here,” admits Hazel Blackwell, a 76-year-old grandmother with crippling arthritis.
READ MORE: ‘It’s another Grenfell waiting to happen’: Tenants slam regulator after Clarion given green light despite mould, damp and asbestos
Hazel first moved into her property following a house swap in 2006 and due to her arthritis, she cannot get out and move around as easily.
But this doesn’t stop her from smelling all of the ‘good and bad smells’ from beyond her front door and outside in the communal hallway.
Hazel claims the communal doors have been broken for well over seven years, which allows outsiders to enter the premises and allegedly smoke drugs.
According to Hazel: “That door’s been broken for about seven years, but it could be longer. They (Clarion) don’t do anything about it. People sit out here and smoke their drugs, I get all the good and bad smells.”
Hazel’s son Clive, 57, has been living next door since 2014. At times the smell is so bad Clive has to stand in the hallway and spray air freshener to try and stop it from spreading into his home.
Clive lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema and finds it very difficult to breathe.
Inside Clive’s property, an unfinished job carried out by Clarion has left electrical wires open-ended as they stick out of the hallway ceiling.
Here at MyLondon, we’re doing our very best to make sure you get the latest news, reviews and features from your area.
Now there’s a way you can keep up to date with the areas that matter to you with our free email newsletter.
The South London newsletter goes out twice day – at 7am and 4pm – and sends you the latest stories straight to your inbox.
From Croydon to Catford, Peckham to Putney, we’ll make sure you get the very best every day.
To sign up to the South London newsletter, simply follow this link and select the newsletter that’s right for you.
And to really customise your news experience on the go, you can download our top-rated free apps for iPhone and Android. Find out more here.
” I don’t know if the wires are live, dead or you know what,” he adds.
Clive suggests: “Clarion should come out every year or once every six months just to have a look round to see if anything needs doing and if it needs doing then do it before it gets bad. They don’t care do they, they just don’t care.”
In between speaking to residents, it wasn’t unusual for our My London reporter to see random puddles within the hallway – though it hadn’t been raining.
One floor even had a bucket full of dirty water while another area in the hallway had a huge gaping hole in its ceiling.
Mum-of-one Vanessa, 22, is another Clarion tenant who was horrified after her toddler son found a dead mouse in their kitchen.
“I can’t put mice traps down because my son will touch them. I was hearing this noise but no one was believing me. They (Clarion) said it was water – it’s disgusting,” she adds.
Vanessa has lived in her property for six months but first encountered problems on moving day, when there was no hot water or heating.
And part of her kitchen is not usable, as some of the cupboards don’t open and have no handles on them.
Another mum-of-three who has experienced issues with Clarion is cash officer, Sumaii.
When her drain became blocked last December, Sumaii had no choice but to wash her children in the kitchen and toilet sinks or on the terrace – which went on for almost two months.
Sumaii said: “I told them (Clarion) I have three young kids and I need to wash them – they said okay, shower them in the sinks in your toilet and kitchen.
“My son has breathing problems and has to go to hospital. I told them everything. Then a guy came and said he solved the problem, but he didn’t do anything. I had to call them (Clarion) two to three times a day until it was eventually fixed.”
Sadler Close is also known as ‘the red flats’ of Mitcham, it is occupied by both Clarion tenants and leaseholders.
A Clarion Housing Group spokesperson said: “In addition to the £1.3 billion investment in regeneration, Clarion is investing over £30 million in our estates across the London Borough of Merton over the next five years and carrying out 500 repairs in our homes every week.
“As a result of the pandemic there is a backlog of some non-emergency work, but our message to residents is that we want to hear from them. We are keen for people to come forward and report repairs to us over the phone or through our website.
“There is a visible Clarion presence across Merton, we are increasing the volume of resident newsletters and are planning more in-person estate engagement days across the borough.
“We continue to look at ways to further improve our service and will be publishing a plan that renews our commitment to our residents in the autumn.”
Are you a Londoner who has experienced bad housing? Contact Ruby at [email protected] with your stories.