Family forced to live in life-threatening conditions due to ‘’criminal negligence’’ of Housing Exec & Smart Move.
In previous weeks, the IRSP in Belfast were contacted in relation to a housing issue in the Whitewell area in the North of the City. The IRSP visited the house and spoke at length with occupants while also carrying out a prolonged and detailed inspection.
Following this, it quickly became evident that this is one of the worst housing cases that we have dealt with this year, and we are horrified by the structural damage and the environment that this family of 3 have been forced to live in. This house is simply not fit for purpose, and furthermore is a continual health risk to all 3 occupants; a young mother with two young children aged 4 and 3. It is wholly unethical and potentially illegal for the housing executive and landlord to sit idly by and do nothing and to let this young family live in squalor and endless suffering.
For this family to be sitting on 120 points is in our view criminal. To convey this fact the details of the situation will now be provided. To start, the walls in 4 rooms of the house are completely infested with damp which has induced continual chest infections in the children resulting in numerous and continual hospital visits. The youngest child, aged 3, was hospitalized in recent months suffering from Croup; this is a continual trend. The oldest child, aged 4, has been diagnosed with learning difficulties and is in the process of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses.
In addition, the kitchen appliances are obsolete and have been certified as dangerous by an electrician who diagnosed 43 electrical faults, and often electric current passes through the oven and refrigerator control panels, as well as through most wall sockets in the house. The result is the children have been subjected to numerous shocks and are not allowed to touch the walls or any electric appliance. This is a most difficult task for a mother with two young kids with health conditions.
Photos taken inside the property
Further to this, significant cracks have been identified on the wall that divides the living room and kitchen area as well as a crack covering the entire length of the kitchen ceiling, above which sits the bath. These cracks have clearly been propagating for sometime and it is only a matter of time before a catastrophic limit has been reached and someone is severely hurt or killed. This induces enormous stress and anxiety on the young mother. Finally, there is a half inch gap between the underside of the front door and floor; resulting in severe cold drafts in winter.
As you can imagine, for a young mother to live in this environment would lead to an onerous and stressful life; a direct result of which is that this young woman in question suffers from severe depression. As the housing executive sit idly by, Environmental Health have called out and assessed the situation ultimately rewarding 70 Homeless points (out of a total of 120) due to the unlivable conditions the family are forced to live in.
Belfast IRSP spokesperson Michael Kelly has asked, ‘’The IRSP in Belfast ask for the public to rally behind this vulnerable family while we contact Environmental Health, The Housing Executive, Health Visitors and Other Housing Bodies. This is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated.’’
It is the responsibility of Smart Move to manage and maintain this property, something they have failed to do as per the Environmental Health report and our own analysis.