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Care worker forced to leave home because of rats, damp and mould may not get new property ‘until Christmas’

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A tenant who has been living in hotels for three months while her housing association decanters her property might not be rehoused until Christmas.

Clarion Housing moved care worker, Louise Plunkett, into a hotel on July 7 after she was hospitalised with breathing problems while living among damp, mould, and vermin that was so bad, she had to sleep on her sofa for nine months.

The 34-year-old Mitcham resident had been complaining to Clarion for almost a decade, but was getting nowhere with the housing association – which manages 125,000 properties across the UK and is Europe’s largest housing association.

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While Louise awaits assessment from a medical expert who is looking into her medical documents as proof that she can move into a new two-bed property, she has been told she might not be rehoused until Christmas.

Although Clarion manages housing stock, Merton Council manages the movement of the housing stock and still has a duty of care for its residents.

Clarion tenant Louise Plunkett

Merton Council are in charge of Louise’s assessment, though their assessment does not involve speaking to her directly.

Louise’s property is plagued with mice and rats, both dead and alive, that chew through her clothes, destroy her furniture and shred important documents.

She had no choice but to move into her living room and salvage the little clothes she could and live out of a bin bag.

Louise has had a rodent infestation since 2019

Louise has had a rodent infestation since 2019

Clarion previously told MyLondon they had been in weekly communication with Louise since February 2021, and had apologised to her and paid compensation for a delay of services in the past.

However, Louise denies that she ever received an apology and was paid just £25, which she believes was compensation from Clarion.

Louise says she is one of many Clarion residents who are being moved into hotels while the housing association decanters or completes repairs in properties.

She told MyLondon: “This is not an isolating incident, this is taking place with every other resident that Clarion is taking control over – why are they failing?

“You don’t get to sit at the table saying you are helping me yet I’ve got neighbours sitting in their property with damp and mould, I’m so angry about this.

“The humiliation myself and other Clarion residents are being put through is disgusting, we can’t keep living like this. It’s inhumane.”

Louise's bathroom

Louise’s bathroom

Louise still has to pay £575 rent per month despite not living there because of health risks.

Every time Louise returns to her Mitcham property to clear out her possessions, she has terrifying dreams of the rats and mould she has lived among.

She was transferred from a Mitcham hotel to another in Wimbledon after a series of unsafe incidents involving outsiders trying to get into her and other people’s rooms.

“Clarion didn’t ensure it was a safe place, a guy was able to get into somebody else’s room.

Louise Plunkett has complained to Clarion Housing for almost a decade

Louise Plunkett has complained to Clarion Housing for almost a decade

Sometimes I wonder why they’ve done this to me and my late mum. We were the type of tenants who never bothered them unless we needed it.”

Louise moved into her three-bed property in Gladstone House with her mother and grandmother when she was eight years old.

Her mother came to Britain from Jamaica in the 1970s to work here as a nurse for the NHS.

Louise’s grandmother died in 2009 and in the lead up to her mother’s death in 2016, the family had no running water.

Louise and her family moved to the 'iconic' red flats of Mitcham when she was 8 years old

Louise and her family moved to the ‘iconic’ red flats of Mitcham when she was 8 years old

She currently isn’t working because of her health problems and the stress she has endured.

Louise has been told that properties are available in Bromley, Croydon and Sutton. But she requires a two-bed for a carer to stay in as she will be undergoing fibroid surgery.

Housing Ombudsman are pushing for an investigation of Louise’s experiences with Clarion, but need a copy of the medical expert’s report after it’s completed.

Louise adds: ” Even though I potentially won’t get much from it in terms of closure, at least I know they have investigated – at least there will be an outcome so people who want to go through the process, can see what type of outcome they can expect, as well as seeing how long it takes to get an outcome.

“I just keep on pressing forward, because of what my mum went through, I just want to ensure that they’re not getting away with this. It’s one thing to put myself and my mum through it, but also my neighbours.

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“I’m not going to let them get away with it.”

A Clarion spokesperson said: “We recently met with Ms Plunkett and agreed a number of actions. We’re currently liaising with the London Borough of Merton to look at the possibility of a permanent move for Ms Plunkett.

“We’re currently waiting for some further information from Ms Plunkett which we need in order to progress her transfer request.

“Unfortunately we’re unable to confirm timescales at present but we’re doing all we can to move this on quickly and we will continue to work closely with Ms Plunkett.

“We work with reputable providers of temporary accommodation, who have responsibility for ensuring their guests’ safety. Whilst residents are staying in temporary accommodation they are responsible for continuing to pay their rent at their permanent home.

“We cover the cost of the temporary accommodation as well as paying towards meals and other reasonable expenses incurred.”

Have you been impacted by housing problems in your borough? Contact Ruby at [email protected] with your stories.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/care-worker-forced-leave-home-21803439