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Housing association apologises as tenants told to wash clothes in bath after repair delays

PUBLISHED: 11:57 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:57 08 October 2020

Danni Lane and her partner Terri Robinsons' washing machine left unwired and in the middle of the kitchen. PHOTO: Danni Lane

Danni Lane and her partner Terri Robinsons' washing machine left unwired and in the middle of the kitchen. PHOTO: Danni Lane

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A housing association has apologised after tenants were unable to cook meals and told to wash their clothes in the bath when delayed repairs left them without basic facilities.

Danni Lane and Terri Robinsons' kitchen was moved into the living room and left there for days. PHOTO: Danni LaneDanni Lane and Terri Robinsons' kitchen was moved into the living room and left there for days. PHOTO: Danni Lane

Tenants in Orwell Housing Association homes in Lowestoft say they have been left in dire living conditions after repair works were left unfinished.

Orwell has now apologised for the delays.

Two sets of tenants were told to wash clothes in the bathtub after their washing machines were left disconnected for over a week.

Others were not able to fully prepare a cooked meal for more than a week because ovens were not reinstalled properly, and were told to use a microwave instead.

The couple are still waiting for their kitchen walls to be tiled. PHOTO: Danni LaneThe couple are still waiting for their kitchen walls to be tiled. PHOTO: Danni Lane

Danni Lane, 36, and her partner Terri Robinson, 35, live at Pier Terrace and were left without a kitchen sink for a week from September 11.

Miss Lane was told the sink would be taken out on September 17 and refitted on September 18.

However, no work was done by September 21, when a supervisor rang Miss Robinson to say he was “very sorry” but they would have to install temporary worktops until a replacement sink was available.

Half of the kitchen was fitted on September 23 and flooring was laid on September 28.

Megan Ife was told to use the bathtub to wash her clothes after her washing machine was not plumbed in. PHOTO: Megan IfeMegan Ife was told to use the bathtub to wash her clothes after her washing machine was not plumbed in. PHOTO: Megan Ife

But the couple are still waiting for their floor to be finished and the tiles on the kitchen wall to be completed, almost a month after the work was due to begin.

Miss Lane said: “Orwell have overstretched and promised too much. They guarantee to have work done in 10 days but most people are forced to wait a month.”

Another Orwell tenant, Megan Ife, from Kessingland, was also told to cook using a microwave, and that she should use the bathtub to wash clothing.

Miss Ife, 18, works as a travel advisor and said: “We had been without an oven, washing machine and anything to cook with for a week and we have a toddler in the house who was having to eat at her nanny’s house.”

Kate Ellis had no oven, no water downstairs, no washing machine or anywhere to clean dishes and no access to drinking water for three days. PHOTO: Kate EllisKate Ellis had no oven, no water downstairs, no washing machine or anywhere to clean dishes and no access to drinking water for three days. PHOTO: Kate Ellis

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Miss Ife waited for a week for someone to arrive to fit her new oven but nobody arrived.

Eventually, Miss Ife’s mother was forced to complain to Orwell Housing, after her daughter was left without a functioning kitchen for three weeks.

Miss Ife is still waiting for her kitchen tiles to be replaced and said she is unhappy with Orwell’s response.

Kate Ellis's kitchen appliances were left unplugged. PHOTO: Kate EllisKate Ellis's kitchen appliances were left unplugged. PHOTO: Kate Ellis

“They would turn up without telling us or phone in sick almost every day,” she said.

“They didn’t seem too bothered that we had a table, chairs and microwave and contents of the cupboards in our living room and that we hadn’t been able to cook a proper meal in weeks. Often they would sit outside smoking as opposed to actually working.”

Another tenant, Kate Ellis, 37, who lives on Clifton Road with three children, one of whom is autistic, and is a university student, said she has also faced a string of issues.

She said: “They cancelled with us day after day, and we have been kept waiting with no idea what is happening.

“Our worktops and cupboards have been ripped out and new electrics have started to be put in but that’s all.

“For three days we have had no oven, no water downstairs so that means no washing machine or anywhere to clean our dishes and no access to drinking water.”

A spokesman for Orwell Housing apologised for the “poor levels of service” and said Covid-19 restrictions had delayed works for two months.

Steven Crissall, assistant director for property and construction for Orwell Housing Association said: “In the last three weeks, we have been experiencing delivery issues, largely due to key operational staff changes at Fosters, and sadly they are also facing unavoidable staffing issues, and having to adhere to government guidelines and legislation in relation to Covid-19. This of course has had a knock on effect to the cycle of proposed works.

“Fosters have adapted to the new Covid restrictions altering their processes in line with government guidelines.

“However, the supply chain challenges and the additional protective measures surrounding Covid naturally add time to the delivery process. This has understandably had the effect of pushing the programme behind schedule.”

Mr Crissall said all tenants have been contacted, with outstanding work completed or plans put in place for its completion “as quickly as possible”.

He added: “It is with great sadness that on this occasion we have not delivered to the standards that we and our customers expect.”


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