Belfast Telegraph

‘Vulnerable’ woman ‘treated badly by housing association’

by Bob Malcolm

A ‘vulnerable’ and ‘sickly’ east Belfast woman has accused Habinteg Housing of treating her unfairly.

Pauline Jackson (34), of 27 Epworth Street had a burst pipe just after Christmas and has since been living with her mother because of the condition her house was left in by the flooding.

Every room in the house has signs of fungal and mould growth and the whole house is damp.

She claims the flooding has stopped the electricity supply and that she has asked to be moved to a flat for one person instead of taking up a three bedroom house.

Ms Jackson said: “The pipe burst about two weeks after Christmas, I’ve been staying with my mum ever since.

“Everything’s ruined – the whole lot. I cried my eyes out when I saw it, I was near sick lifting the carpet.

“They gave me a dehumidifier but there’s no electric – so how am I meant to fix it?”

“They just want me to do it all myself. I think it’s very unfair of them.

She accused Habinteg Housing of attempting to evict her because of the flooding: “A woman from Habinteg came out and said ‘I’m giving you two weeks to fix this or you’re out’.”

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: “One of our environmental health officers has been out to inspect the property and we have raised a number of concerns with the housing association responsible for the property, both by telephone and letter. We will continue to liaise with the housing association to ensure these issues are addressed, and we can assure the resident that we are following up this matter.”

A spokesperson from Habinteg said it had not served an eviction notice but that it was “aware of the condition of the property which, unfortunately, has been subject to considerable tenant neglect.

“Habinteg recently carried out repairs to a burst pipe at the property. The leak was efficiently dealt with but the normal drying out process is being hampered due to central heating not being turned on by the tenant.

“Habinteg is more than willing to work with the tenant in any attempt to bring the property back to an acceptable condition,” added the spokesperson.

UUP Councillor Michael Copeland said: “The facts surrounding this case are simple – a vulnerable woman who does not enjoy good health has been placed in a three bedroom house that she cannot afford to live in or maintain thereby causing her additional expense and stress and depriving one of many families on the waiting list from getting a home. The Housing Association should explore all avenues with all other statutory agencies towards restoring this woman’s dignity as a citizen and place her in an accommodation for her needs, i.e a one bedroom flat,” he added.

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