Finally home, couple forced out for NINE months by leak repairs

Calls for compensation after residents were forced out by ‘toxic black mould’

Friday, 22nd April — By Anna Lamche

Elaine Shapiro

Elaine Shapiro

RESIDENTS who were forced to leave their leaking housing association property have been allowed to return home – almost nine months later.

People moved out of Hawberry Lodge, near Caledonian Park, are now calling for compensation from Clarion Housing.

Elaine Shapiro, 71, and her husband were among the eight residents ­de­can­ted last July after being told “very toxic black mould” had built up around faulty pipes and that the “ceiling could come down at any second”.

She said the problems had been first reported to the association in 2016 but got worse when nothing was fixed.

Clarion Housing moved the residents to a hotel in Pentonville Road while they fixed the leaks, assuring the eight tenants that they would only have to spend a short time in the hotel. “Work could take approximately two to three weeks per flat,” a said at the time.

But Ms Shapiro and her husband were still living in the same hotel room in December.

The couple, who have health conditions that require a special diet, said they had “deteriorated rapidly” during their stay at the hotel because they did not have access to a kitchen.

After Ms Shapiro shared her experience with the Tribune, Clarion moved the couple into a new flat in Camden with kitchen access. They were advised they could return to their home at Hawberry Lodge by mid-May.

Earlier this month Ms Shapiro was finally able to move home, although other decanted residents may have to wait longer.

She said: “They’ve failed to take into consideration our vulnerabilities, our age. If we were young people, it would still be annoying. But for us, this has made us really, really ill. They’ve done the damage. Now I want compensation.”

Ms Shapiro added: “I’ve always fought all my life for this kind of thing, and now I haven’t really gotten the fight in me anymore – but I feel that’s what they want. It’s mentally and physically completely drained both of us,” she said.

Islington’s housing chief, Councillor Diarmaid Ward, said: “Your home is your stability, your anchor, so to be out of your home that long is really difficult.

“I think residents need to be compensated adequately. I’m happy to sit down with residents and Clarion to find a reasonable resolution.”

A Clarion spokesperson said: “We are pleased to confirm Mrs Shapiro is now back at her home and we have apologised that this has taken longer than originally anticipated.

“We have paid compensation to Mrs Shapiro in recognition of the inconvenience the delays have caused, and any application for further compensation will be considered through our insurance process.

“Our housing team has continued to keep in regular contact with Hawberry Lodge residents during their stay in alternative accommodation to ensure they are kept up to date and promptly provided with any support needed.”

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