"I just want my front room back for Christmas" - Chichester woman's fight with housing association after her ceiling collapses
The woman, who lives in a Clarion Housing Association property in Elizabeth Road, said the company has failed to properly repair her home.
Coming home from visiting her boyfriend one evening three weeks ago, she and her son, 11, found a wet patch on the ceiling, which was just a sign of things to come:
"There was a patch on the ceiling, it was a little bit wet and dripping, but at the time we’d just got home so we had to carry on as we were,” she told Sussex World. “Later, I was in my room and we heard this almighty crash. Down came the ceiling and loads of water came with it. It was all so unexpected, we didn’t have a clue what was going on.”
The first thing she did was call Clarion, who took three hours to dispatch an emergency plumber.
"As you can imagine, it was pouring in rain and I was just left with these buckets to catch the leak. My carpet is ruined, my sofa is ruined. Everything is wet.”
The issues all come as West Sussex experiences some of the worst flooding and heaviest rainfall in living memory. West Sussex County Council statistics suggest Chichester received 250mm of rainfall last month, considerably more than the county wide yearly average of just 62.2mm.
After the collapse and the initial repairs, It took a week of daily calls to wrestle Clarion into an earnest attempt to fix the cause of the leak, but there are still several serious problems.
"Eventually someone came round to bodge it up with paint trays, a piece of galvanised plastic and some mastic glue on the inside. They should have come back to fix it from the outside, but they haven’t,” she said, adding that they sealed the room off on account of suspected asbestos, which has now been removed.
Promising to stay in touch with their resident, a spokesperson for the Housing Association said: “Our team promptly inspected the property when the ceiling collapse was first reported, to ensure it was safe. The following day, our surveyor assessed the entire property and our contractors put in a temporary fix to stop any water leaks until a permanent solution is found. Our team has determined that the issue stems from the roof and we are urgently booking in contractors to complete the required repair works.”
But, with Christmas just around the corner, this Chichester resident says her home is far from where it should be, and all she really wants is to spend the holiday season at home with her 11-year-old son.
"I just want my front room back for Christmas. I want my son to have our Christmas here. Because where are we supposed to go otherwise?” she said.
To her, Clarion's response has been “unacceptable,” and their temporary fixes have failed to stop the water leaks. “I had to phone and phone and phone to get them to come out, and the leak was still going on three days after their contractor left. It’s just not right.”