A mother of eight from Leeds is taking legal action against her owners over the appalling conditions she says her family is forced to live in.
Gemma Took says her house needs almost £ 24,000 worth of repairs, with missing doors, stinking humidity, mold, holes and cracks in the walls making her children sick.
Gemma, 40, has taken legal action against her owners, the Leeds Federated Housing Association (LFHA) after an independent contractor determined there was 23,990.00 (plus VAT) of dilapidation in the house.
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The LFHA replied that it “takes all complaints very seriously” and maintained that it provided “sustainable, good-value and affordable housing”.
Gemma, a full-time mom, is renting in Linden Road, Armley, with six of her children, aged two, twins aged five, seven, eight and 23. His 20 and 21 years old have moved.
She took LeedsLive on tour to her weakened home – here’s what we saw.
There is a rancid smell all over the house caused by the humidity that has infested the nooks and crannies of the townhouse.
There are crumbling walls with large cracks and missing doors in the bedrooms, most notably in the bathroom.
Mold can be seen growing under the sinks and toilets, and the moisture behind the toilet in the bathroom is bubbling and rotting the plaster. There are rusty leaky radiators that click and blow.
“The whole ceiling is moving”
“Plaster falling from the ceiling,” Gemma says as she walks up the stairs, gripping the “loose” handrail. “If you just touch the ceiling, the whole ceiling moves.”
Cold air squirts through gaping holes in the wall where the air vents are missing, which Gemma says makes her children sick and cold.
Gemma, who has lived in the house since 1998, showed the bedroom where her five-year-old twins sleep. Across from the small bunk bed in the crumbly blue bedroom is a head-shaped hole in the wall.
“I asked for the ventilation grill to be replaced a long time ago. All the air flow passes through the hole. It gives children colds. It’s cold in the winter, it’s really bad for them, their chest and everything, ”Gemma said.
Heating the house can get “really expensive” with so much air escaping through holes and cracks in walls and between door frames. Gemma claims to pay £ 40 per week for gas and electricity during the winter months.
The mother of eight added, “It’s really depressing because my son suffers from depression and anxiety. It’s getting really stressful now with all the kids. It’s depressing. It’s really bad. “
Gemma alleged the LFHA asked for £ 1,000 just to put doors in the house.
She said: “It was good when I first moved in, but it wasn’t in great shape. A family lived here before me with their teenage children. They [housing association] just gave me £ 100 decorating grant and said I could decorate it myself but it was pretty poorly decorated.
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“I asked for doors ten years ago, there were no doors. The firefighters told me that there was a risk of fire and that a place was needed to close the doors, so I called the federation. They said “we can only put you five doors and we will have to charge you £ 1000 and take them out of your rent”.
“So they came and they put these doors that were really heavy for the frames on, and then I started noticing cracks around the frames. As I opened and closed the doors it just got worse and worse.
Gemma begged LFHA to make the repairs, but said she did not respond. The 40-year-old says the housing association has promised that she will be able to move her family next door and that she hopes to have them on the other property before Christmas.
She said, “I told them [the housing association], if you’re not going to move me to the house next door. Please come and do the repairs. I don’t get anything out of it. It’s just depressing.
Gemma hired lawyers from Quebec to support her in her fight against LFHA in 2019.
A spokesperson for the Leeds Federation Housing Association said: “It would be highly inappropriate for Leeds Federated to discuss the facts of any matter that is the subject of a private court case. Rather, we will continue to work with Ms. Took directly and through counsel for both parties to resolve this dispute.
“Leeds Federated is a responsible social landlord committed to maintaining high standards and levels of service with respect to both the condition of its housing stock and the satisfaction of its customers.
“Leeds Federated always strives to perform repairs effectively and efficiently for our customers and we take all complaints very seriously. The well-being of the residents in our homes is of paramount importance and we continue to work towards our goal of providing people with access to sustainable, good value and affordable housing. “
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