Damp forces tenant to live in tent outside her front door

‘I feel like I am going to die in here,’ says woman with emphysema

Friday, 22nd April — By Anna Lamche

Clare Karma’s tent

Clare Karma’s tent outside her front door

SHOCKING conditions have forced a council tenant to move from her home into a tent just metres from her front door.

Clare Karma, of Copenhagen Street, say she was forced to move into a tent after conditions in her council home became “unbearable”.

She has spent the last few weeks camping outside her front door along with her dog, under a sign reading: “Islington Council killing pets + tenants in their homes.”

Ms Karma, who moved into the property in 2013, said surface water from both front and back gardens has been penetrating her building over the course of several years.

“It’s disgusting,” Ms Karma said. “The whole downstairs floor is damp – I’ve been walking on that floor for 10 years.”

She said repeated readings taken by a moisture meter show the level of damp in her home is unsafe, adding that a lack of repairs from the council means the property has become dilapidated.

Ms Karma pays £140 a week in rent and lives with her dog. She said the damp in the floorboards has damaged both her own health and that of her pet.

“I have had chest infections every year since 2013,” she said. “In 2019 I was diagnosed with emphysema. My right lung has closed up at the top. I’ve lost that lung in [this house]. My dog is very ill too – she’s reacting to years of damp.”

Her doctor has asked the council to move Ms Karma for the sake of her health, and after a trial period away from the house her symptoms improved radically.

Despite frequent contact with the council, Ms Karma has said “nothing” has yet been fixed in her home, adding it should not take her moving into a tent for the council to take action.

“I’m just waiting on the council to fix the house. I feel like I am going to die in here, in this tent,” Ms Karma said.

Caledonian ward Councillor Paul Convery told the Tribune he would not defend the council’s failings in Ms Karma’s case. “My job is to stand up for residents, not defend the council,” he said. “I don’t know why the repairs team hasn’t sorted it.

“It’s got to the point where Clare has said: ‘I’ve had enough,’ and I don’t blame her, she’s sleeping out the front of her house because her patience has been stretched to the limit.”

He added: “I’ve said to senior managers: stop mucking around and get someone round there to sort it out.”

A Town Hall spokes­person said: “Islington Council is determined to ensure that everyone in the borough has a place to call home, which is secure, decent and genuinely affordable.

“We are sorry for the distress caused to the resident in the process of agreeing works on their property. The council is carrying out repair and improvement works at the property on Copenhagen Street, which includes fixing issues with drainage, windows and a heating system upgrade.

“We have, in the meantime, offered to move the resident to temporary accommodation, with her family and her dog, while we complete these works. So far, this offer has been declined but it remains an open offer. We have visited the resident a number of times to check on her welfare and to offer further support to meet her needs.

“We will continue to work with the resident to resolve these issues.”

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