Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Inside ‘disgusting house of horrors’ that NIHE rents to this mum with young children

No heating or hot water, filthy walls, a hole in the ceiling and rampant damp: mum appalled by NIHE’s

By Victoria Leonard

The Housing Executive has come under fire for renting a "disgusting house of horrors" to a mother and her two young children.

Shocking pictures of the Newtownabbey home show extensive damage, including filth-spattered walls, parts of the ceiling and walls hanging off, rampant mould and damp, gouges to walls exposing underlying concrete, and a broken thermostat.

The Housing Executive charges £325 a month in rent for the property, which currently has no heating or hot water. This includes rates.

Single mum Nikki McDowell (18), who has a two-year-old daughter and an eight-month-old son, says she was told by the Housing Executive in mid-December that repairs would be carried out to make the property fit for the young family before they moved in.

A month later, instead of embarking on a fresh start with her children, Nikki is too afraid to even let them enter the dilapidated dwelling.

"The house has been wrecked - it's a disgusting house of horrors," she said.

"I have a wee girl and a wee boy and it's not safe for them. The Housing Executive expects them to live in a house that is dirty and dangerous. It's unfit for human habitation.

"I was first offered the house in November and told that repairs were being carried out, so I couldn't view it. Then when I saw it the week before Christmas it still needed a lot of work. The Housing Executive told me it would be done by the time I moved in.

"When I got the keys last week, I was shocked at the house's condition, but I was desperate to get a home for me and my kids and I thought that if I signed for it repairs would be carried out sooner.

"I felt that I had no choice but to sign.

"The Housing Executive response has been pathetic - I have contacted them and they haven't done anything so far. I haven't been able to move my kids into what was supposed to be our new home."

After inspecting the property further when she received the keys last week, Nikki said she found live electricity sockets hanging from walls, graffiti, and dog hair behind radiators.

"There is a hole in the ceiling of the bedroom, graffiti in a storage cupboard, live plug sockets hanging off the wall, dirt on the walls and black mould around the kitchen," she continued.

"It would be a health hazard for a kid crawling around in there, and they could grab hold of a plug socket and be electrocuted.

"The Housing Executive told me they don't clean properties before they rent them out. I have been in cleaning it myself, but if I don't get any more help from the Housing Executive it could be months before it's in a fit state for me to move in."

Oldpark PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston said she felt public confidence in the Housing Executive and other public services was "dwindling."

"It's not the first time I've seen pictures like this. I think there is an underlying issue with the quality and quantity of social housing," she added.

"The number of people waiting for housing could fill the SSE arena three times over.

"I would like to know if the Housing Executive performs any checks to make sure a property is habitable before renting it out."

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: "We regret this unfortunate situation and we have spoken at length to the applicant today and agreed to a fresh inspection of the property to identify all necessary repairs.

"Once these have been completed to the applicant's satisfaction, we will proceed to agree a new start date for the tenancy. No rent will be paid until the commencement of the tenancy on the new, agreed date. In the meantime, the applicant has made alternative arrangements for accommodation."

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