Ramsgate couple’s frustration as housing association fails to fix water seeping into home for four years

David and Carol say the issue has just gone on and on

A Ramsgate couple say their health is being affected by mould and damp due to Riverside housing association failing to fix the issue of water leaking into their bedroom through their balcony door for the past four years.

Retired lorry driver David Higgs and wife Carol moved into their flat at Coventina House in May 2019 and say the problem began in September of that year.

David, 72, said: “Come September and I got out of bed and into a puddle. We mopped it up  and called (Riverside) in.

“They said it must be to do with the balcony door and addressed that. It was ok for a short time then more water came in and they came again but this is how it has gone on and on.”

After numerous visits from Riverside operatives but still no solution, David decided to call in a builder friend to take a look and see if he could work out the cause.

He said: “Within five minutes, he knew what it was. The balcony above us sits at an angle, coming back to the building, so the water is running off. The render is missing which would stop the water coming into our flat.”

Riverside then sent a surveyor, who travelled from Liverpool, and he came to the same conclusion.

David said: “He wrote a report and we were supposed to have someone come out a couple of Fridays ago but we didn’t see anyone. Carol phoned two or three times and they said they had no knowledge of anyone coming to us.”

A follow-up meeting with a Riverside manager “got a bit heated,” when the couple and one of their daughters asked questions but failed to get any answers, says David.

The couple have been sleeping in the building’s guest room for around 10 weeks and have now complained to the housing Ombudsman with the help of South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay.

David said: “We are in limbo. Last week we had water coming through, there is damp and our curtains have gone mouldy and Riverside just told us to claim on our house insurance.

“We have gone to the local ombudsman but it could take a year to sort out. We should not have to be living like this. I have emphysema and COPD and the damp didn’t cause that but it is not helping.

“At the beginning of December this (Riverside manager) said they wanted to take down part of the ceiling to see where the water was coming from and then tried to say I was refusing work because I said no. We already know where the water is coming from.”

The grandparents-of-two say they have now been told scaffolding is due to go up so repairs can take place but add that they “have no clue” when that will happen.

Carol said: “This is affecting both our health, especially my husband who has emphysema and COPD and is having to use his inhalers more.”

Riverside bosses say they have carried out remedial works each time the leak has been reported but the root cause remained unclear until extensive investigations of previously inaccessible areas, such as the cavity, helped  establish the root cause and the remedial works required. Approval for the works is now required.

A spokesperson for Riverside said: “We are truly sorry to Mr and Ms Higgs for the ongoing water leak in their bedroom and want to reassure them that we are doing everything we can to put things right.

“This has been a complex case and we have unfortunately faced challenges in fully resolving the problem for them as quickly as hoped. Despite visiting Mr and Ms Higgs’ home to complete remedial works, the water leak has returned on three separate occasions since first reported to us in December 2020.

“Following our extensive investigatory works and having responded by completing repairs each time, as the problem continued, we arranged for further investigations to determine the root cause of the leak (including a specialist damp survey and cavity wall inspections by an external consultant). We are now confident that we have been able to identify the underlying cause of the leak.

“In early January 2024, Mr and Ms Higgs also made us aware of concerns of damp in their home and we have responded by completing initial repairs.

“We met with Mr and Ms Higgs at their home on 15 February to discuss the proposed works to tackle the leak and prevent further damp and advised we will be in touch at the earliest opportunity to arrange these once they are agreed.

“We want to apologise once again for any inconvenience and upset caused by the challenges in identifying the root cause of the leak.

“In the meantime, we have supported Mr and Ms Higgs to move into another flat within the building, and our previous offer of alternative temporary accommodation remains until we have fully resolved the matter for them.

“To allow us to carry out these works we will be putting scaffolding up at the property to enable us to access the areas now identified as the cause of the issue and will keep Mr and Ms Higgs updated throughout the process.”

8 Comments

  1. Housing associations are just in it for the money, they do not want to spend money required for upkeep on poor build quality homes. Definitely do not care about tenants. Disgraceful as are the MPs which give a sympathetic face when asked to step in but couldn’t really care less or do anything which will do anything to prevent future repeats. No laws, no legislation of course may even have a finger in the pie.

  2. Shocking mistreatment of tenants seems to be the norm it’s often being highlighted in news reports. How complicated can it be to get the problem fixed?

  3. This is appalling! Getting on for five years and still no fix!
    If IoTN can get this to the couple it might help.
    The Housing Health & Safety Rating System should have seen TDC visiting the premises to enforce improvements, have they been involved?
    Getting Mackinlay on the case could be of use but what has he actually done? He’s been, and remains, pretty unwell so has he asked someone to pursue this?
    Given one occupant is at a significantly increased risk due to his respiratory condition the Landlord should have taken action far sooner – suitable and agreeable temporary rehousing is an obvious response so why was it not done?
    Is the flat a relatively new build? If new or reasonably new the Riverside landlord should be approaching the builder to resolve this (Construction Design & Management Regulations) while sorting out temporary housing. Either way Riverside have the legal duty to prevent harm to its residents from its “undertaking” so has anyone got the Health & Safety Executive and/or TDC Environmental Heath on the case?. I would have thought Mackinlay or his office would have got HSE and/or TDC all over this.
    I assume neither Mackinlay, TDC or HSE have done much otherwise they would have had their actions reported in the article.
    Well done IoTN for publishing the story but let’s get some action!

  4. “We want to apologise once again for any inconvenience …”
    I think you’ll find that water pouring through your bedroom ceiling is an inconvenience.

  5. I can honestly say I feel for them , I’m currently still getting water seeping into my kitchen from the property above me its been going on for atleast 6 months knowone cares , the owner of the property doesn’t care and doesn’t do anything to try and stop the leak .

  6. Leaks can be enormously insidious. Where perhaps you think it’s coming from, it’s almost always from where you don’t expect. In this case the company did the remedial works expected until a qualified surveyor can identify the cause accurately.

    It’s fine for “Jack the trades lad” to proudly proclaim the cause, but having a balcony above implies more complexity and careful diligence rather than some off the cuff diagnosis without any indemnity to back it up.

  7. They could have mixed some coloured dye in a watering can and poured it in different spots above at a time until you see it come through inside. Then they would have known where to fix the problem. But then, the independent surveyor found it almost immediately on inspection anyway. The housing association should have done something more when first reported instead of just fixing the door.

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