London: Tenant left in ‘rotten’ council housing for three years

Kwajo Tweneboa says he and his family have spent the last three years stuck in ‘unliveable’ accommodation that ‘is not even fit for animals’ (Pictures: PA)

A council housing tenant says he and his family have spent the last three years stuck in ‘unliveable’ accommodation that ‘is not even fit for animals’.

Kwajo Tweneboa, 22, claims he and his two sisters had to put up with mice, cockroaches and an ‘asbestos-filled ceiling’ at the property in Mitcham, south London, before being threatened with eviction when their father died from cancer last year.

He said he has been driven to share pictures of his rotten kitchen and mouldy wallpaper on social media out of sheer desperation, adding: ‘I’ve had to put it online and embarrass myself.

‘It just shows how much of the last resort it is when you have to drag your property, which you’re ashamed of, on social media because no-one is listening.’

Mr Tweneboa said the family were initially placed in a mould-infested garage by Merton Council, who offered it as temporary accommodation saying they would otherwise have to move to Luton, in 2017.

He added: ‘At this point, my sister and I were slap bang in the middle of our school exams. It was a residential car garage that had been badly converted into a house.

‘It would leak, and a burst water main flooded the hallways and destroyed our schoolwork.’

They were eventually moved to their current property in 2018.

Mr Tweneboa say he and his family have been left in ‘unliveable’ accommodation for three years (Picture: PA)
Some of the broken kitchen facilities at his home in Mitcham, south London (Picture: PA)

Mr Tweneboa claims Clarion Housing, the UK’s largest housing association, tried to evict him and his sisters, aged 23 and 20, after their father’s death at the beginning of 2020.

He said: ‘We were fighting to keep the house because there was a clause in the contract that said a spouse could have the house, but the children couldn’t.’

After the family were served with a 30-day eviction notice, Mr Tweneboa complained to Clarion and was eventually offered his own tenancy.

He went on: ‘They knew what they were doing was wrong but they wanted their rent money to keep coming. So the easiest option for them, I believe, was to give us a contract.’

Mr Tweneboa said the accommodation ‘is not even fit for animals’ (Picture: PA)
The 22-year-old said the family has had to deal with conditions including an infestation of mice and cockroaches (Picture: PA)

Mr Tweneboa says he is now forced to shower at the gym because the light in his bathroom is filled with rainwater.

He also described how the room has no window, the taps on the shower are rusted, and tiles are falling off the wall.

In the kitchen, the cabinets are waterlogged, rotten, and infested with woodlice, he added.

Mr Tweneboa said work done by Clarion including tearing down an ‘asbestos-filled ceiling’, leaving dust in the living room and a hole in the roof.

Despite repeated calls, he said the family were then left without a ceiling throughout the winter, with no provision for additional heating.

Mr Tweneboa, who works in marketing and pays £600 a month in rent for the property, said: ‘All it needed was a patch repair.

‘I ended up moving my furniture outside, and now it is destroyed. My belongings are all destroyed, as are those that belonged to my dad.’

A Clarion spokesman said: ‘We would like to provide absolute reassurance that the safety and wellbeing of our residents is our number one priority. We are committed to resolving all of the outstanding repairs at Mr Tweneboa’s home.

‘We have undertaken a significant amount of work already and are currently working with Mr Tweneboa’s solicitors to agree a schedule for the remainder.

‘We acknowledge the inconvenience the repairs issues at this property have caused and apologise if Mr Tweneboa feels we haven’t provided the service expected from us.

‘We can confirm all asbestos safety precautions were followed during the removal of the ceiling and an air test completed after the room had been cleaned.

‘We have not been made aware of any issues with internal doors other that the one we have fixed and the cupboard door scheduled for repair but we will arrange for an inspection of all the internal doors to check they are working as they should.

‘We were very sorry to hear of the passing of Mr Tweneboa’s father. A Notice to Quit was served as part of the end of tenancy process and a new tenancy for the property was then granted to Mr Tweneboa following this.’

Mr Tweneboa said he and his two siblings were threatened with eviction from the property when their father died from cancer last year (Picture: PA)

Merton Council’s member for housing, Martin Whelton, said: ‘I am very concerned to hear about the condition of the property in Mitcham and we have raised these issues as a matter of urgency with Clarion, who own the property and are responsible for the maintenance of the property.’

Mr Tweneboa said: ‘I am going to fight until they do fix this and do it to a proper standard. Otherwise, what they are going to do is just move us out and move someone else in, and hope that is someone who won’t complain.

‘I’m not asking to live in a mansion. I am asking for our basic needs, and what we pay rent for. They have a duty of care and they have violated their tenancy agreement.’

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