By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter
A disabled grandmother from Croydon was left living in a council flat that was so damp she was unable to use the electricity in her living room.
Yvonne, who asked for just her first name to be used, says she complained for six years before she was moved to temporary accommodation by Croydon Council.
The 70-year-old has lived in the same Selhurst flat for 21 years and has been the tenancy holder since 2012.
She says in 2014 the council ripped out her bathroom and replaced the bath, toilet and sink but it was never tiled as it was too damp.
A year later she says maintenance workers came and took pictures of the flat but she was only given a dehumidifier rather than the repairs being done.
The grandmother of seven has osteoarthritis and asthma which she says has become worse with the damp.
“I had a total breakdown, how could they leave a disabled 65-year-old in a state like that?” said Yvonne. “When we were having a bath plaster would fall into the bath.”
Yvonne got in touch with CEL solicitors in 2018 – by this point the power in her living room hadn’t worked for 10 months.
“I’ve spent the past five years in my bedroom,” the grandmother added.
And she has had to throw away a lot of her possessions which have been damaged by rust and mould – she said even tinned food in her kitchen begins to rust.
Despite being confined to her bedroom for most of the lockdown, Yvonne said she liked it being quieter when she went out and enjoyed spending time in her garden with her dog.
She was moved to temporary accommodation in West Croydon but hopes she will be able to move back into her home soon.
She was given the keys to her temporary accommodation in November, but even this was not without problems as she was not given a key to the front door to the building meaning she would have to rely on tenants of other flats opening the door.
Yvonne thinks that the housing department at the council has got worse in recent years.
She added: “The council used to be better at dealing with their tenants, it is always difficult to get hold of somebody.
“I think the communication is just terrible, they didn’t realise I was disabled even though I had taken my papers up there.”
The spotlight was shone on the state of council housing in the borough last month when shocking conditions at a block in South Norwood appeared on ITV News.
The council was forced to commission an independent investigation into the unacceptable conditions and just what went wrong. Although this has now been completed it will not be released until after the elections on May 6.
A spokesperson for Croydon Council would not comment on Yvonne’s case but said: “We have a lot of people in council accommodation who are classed as a priority for having a new home, and we always look to move them somewhere suitable as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately it can take a long time to find somewhere that meets their individual needs, particularly for people requiring accessible or large properties, as housing supply is limited in Croydon and across London.”
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