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Family “forced to move” after claiming Leeds-based social landlord ignored damp

Owen Reece, Kirstie Booth and their eight-month-old son, Louis

By Lizzy McEllan

A FAMILY in Scarborough claims they feel forced to move out of their flat after a housing association failed to carry out proper repairs.

The claims are strongly disputed by their landlord, Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association (LYHA).

Owen Reece, 30, says the flat – owned by LYHA – that he lives in with his partner, Kirstie Booth, and eight-month-old son, Louis, is riddled with damp.

He claims the conditions have caused the family health problems.

Mr Reece said: “I suffer from bipolar disorder and any added stress can trigger me to be severely depressed, so the thought of my family having to live in damp, cold and mouldy conditions for so long has been so bad.”

Mr Reece says he was forced to seek legal help earlier this year when the landlord failed to take action – even when his partner was pregnant – after his furniture turned mouldy.

Mr Reece’s bed, taken in December 2016. He was awarded £5000 for damages in July this year.

Mr Reece’s bedside table, taken in December 2016.

In October, Mr Reece asked his GP for a letter to take to the council in support of his case for a new house.

It said: “Owen has significant mental health problems and has been on medication for a number of years. Concerns about the health of his family in this environment are contributing to his mental distress at present.

“In addition, his son Louis, who is 30 weeks old, has an allergic disorder which results in poor sleep for all. The living conditions of the family contribute to their distress and poor health.”

Mr Reece contacted a solicitor earlier this year after seeking advice when, he claims, the housing association had ignored his complaints for months.

He was awarded damages of £5000 in July following an independent survey, commissioned by Turner and White solicitors, based in Preston. Mr Reece said half of this money was used to pay solicitor’s fees.

The survey said there was damp in every room and that repairs should be carried out by the end of July.

But Mr Reece claims they have still not been fully carried out.

Sana Patel, from Turner and White solicitors, who dealt with Mr Reece’s claim, said that LYHA were difficult to get hold of.

She said: “They were pretty much a nightmare. We’ve never had this issue with any of our cases not carrying out the repairs before. They were the worst case we’ve dealt with.”

Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association dispute the claims made by Mr Reece.

Chief executive, Lisa Pickard, said: “The points contain some material inaccuracies. Officers have been working extensively to resolve this matter with Mr Reece and this continues to remain our priority.

“LYHA is a responsible landlord and take our tenant obligations seriously. We are committed to resolving complaints and make every effort to work with the customer to understand and where possible address their concerns.

“This is what I believe we have done and continue to do in terms of this case; none of which is reflected in these claims.”

Scarborough Council said its Environmental Health team inspected the property and found it to be free of any major hazards that would require action from the landlord.

However, the independent survey states extensive work should be carried out to get rid of the damp.

Mr Reece said: “Without proper repairs, the mould just comes back. Because Environmental Health said our flat is habitable, we can’t be declared homeless, so we feel forced to spend every penny we have to move into privately rented accommodation.”

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