A Redbridge mum-of-two was left in a private flat “unfit for human habitation” for more than two years after the council failed to take action against her landlord.

Redbridge Council was ordered to pay the woman, who for privacy reasons is identified only as Miss X, £7,000 in compensation by the Local Government Ombudsman in February this year.

The flat had serious mould and damp issues and at least one period where there was no heating or hot water.

Miss X was forced to sleep on an airbed after her bed frame rotted away, shower at her neighbour’s and take her children to fast food restaurants for food and warmth.

Her children both became sick while living in the flat, with one suffering lung issues her GP linked to mould.

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The ombudsman wrote: “As a result of the Council’s failure to act, Miss X has lived in accommodation that was, on balance, unsuitable for her and her family.

“For some of that time Mrs X says she was without hot water or heating. She says she could not use the kitchen to store or prepare food.

“She had to take her children to fast food restaurants, which was expensive and meant they could not eat healthily.

“She says the family stayed in the fast food restaurant as long as possible to keep warm and the children had to do their homework there.”

According to the report, the entire family slept in the “only room that was habitable” and Miss X slept on a blow-up mattress “because her bed frame and mattress had rotted due to the damp”.

The ombudsman added: “Miss X has provided medical evidence to show one of the children suffered recurrent coughs, wheezing, nasal problems and at one point developed an abscess on her neck that required draining in hospital.

“The GP considers these were linked to damp conditions in the flat.

“I cannot conclude with certainty these health problems were as a result of poor conditions in the flat but on balance I consider that they were made worse by those conditions.”

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The ombudsman found the council was at fault for not taking “formal action to ensure the repairs were carried out” after Miss X first reported the problems in 2017.

The council inspected in July 2018 but, once again, took no action until December 2019, when it issued a Hazard Awareness Notice because the landlord planned to sell the flat.

After paying for a private assessment which found the flat was “not fit for human habitation” and posed a “significant risk to health”, Miss X moved her family into a hotel, which she paid for herself.

Miss X repeatedly asked the council to move her elsewhere while living at the flat. The council claims it offered her alternative accommodation in August 2018 but “has no record” of doing so.

It also accepted a homelessness application from Miss X in February 2019, when her landlord tried to evict her, “but did not allocate it to an officer and made no enquiries”.

In December last year, when the ombudsman deemed the council was “aware of the condition of the property and the fact Miss X was threatened with homelessness”, it also took no action.

The council was ordered to pay her £6,500 for the injustice caused by the unsuitable accommodation and a further £500 for failing to try to house her in 2019.

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