A Londoner has been left living in “appalling” conditions for six years, with water drenching the walls of his North London flat whenever it rains. William Corbett, 56, says rain “pours down the walls” of the Tufnell Park flat he’s lived in for 32 years every time there is a downpour.
The full-time carer said he has also had to endure crumbling plasterwork and a huge crack across his hallway for the past six years, after being left in limbo by delays to building work organised by his landlord, Peabody Housing Association. According to Mr Corbett’s lawyers, Peabody has carried out repeated repairs on the property but failed to fix the underlying problem.
Mr Corbett said: “I first noticed a crack in the hall, right across the ceiling and walls, probably about 25 years ago.” He added that after trying to fix the issue with his own DIY skills, it quickly became clear the issue would require much more. Mr Corbett explained: “I got coving to cover it. Gradually over the years, it got worse and worse.”
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Describing how the issue has now become so bad that it rains down his wall “like a waterfall” every time it rains outside, Mr Corbett said he has been repeatedly let down by Peabody Housing Association, who have sent workers round then told him the issue has been fixed several times, only for him to later find out it’s not fixed at all.
He said: “Lines have developed over the bath and now when it rains, water comes in. They [Peabody] repaired it about six years ago and several times they said it has been fixed, but then it rains. One time they said they fixed the roof and a man came to do the plastering. But when he was carrying out the work it started to rain and it was raining down the wall like a waterfall.”
Delays in fixing the problem led Mr Corbett to engage the services of CEL Solicitors, who took his claim to court. He was initially awarded £2,150.
In December 2021, CEL reached a third breach settlement with Peabody Housing Association and Mr Corbett received a total of £5,150 in compensation. The works are now due to be completed by August 31. Mr Corbett said: “There’s damage in the hallway, kitchen and bathroom. I’ve been waiting to decorate for six years.”
John Lowry, director and head of the housing disrepair team at CEL Solicitors, said: “Laws are in place to ensure everyone in this country lives in a property that is safe and in good condition.” However, he added that Mr Corbett’s case proves “this is often not the case,” and added that his is an experience “shared by thousands of people across the country.”
Condemning the length of time Mr Corbett had to wait before anything was done to his property, Mr Lowry said his client should not have had to wait so long for his house to be made liveable, adding: “For him to have to wait six years and counting for the correct repair work to be carried out is simply not acceptable. Even then, it has required the action of our solicitors through the courts to force the housing association’s hand.”
A Peabody spokesperson said: “This is complex case as it involves three properties, No. 1, 2 & 3 which are all terraced properties which were converted into 3 flats backing onto the Network Rail track. Due to the poor maintenance of the track and vegetation, the vibrations have caused damage to the structure and foundations of No.1, impacting on the party walls for No. 2 and No. 3.
“The properties were referred to the same insurers back in April 2019, however, there has been a delay at Network Rail’s end to begin the works for No.1 and No.2 and we can’t carry out repairs on our property until these have been completed. We have been supporting Mr Corbett throughout this case, making the necessary repairs to his roof several times and the insurers have been filling any cracks appearing in the party wall.
“Until the repairs are not completed on No. 1 and No.2, we cannot carry out the repairs on our property at No. 3. We understand Mr Corbett’s distress and we have offered him alternative accommodation while the issue was resolved, which he has refused. We have gone back to his solicitors and offered him temporary accommodation again.”
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