A nurse has said she has "all types of issues" with subsidence, damp, vermin, and potential gas leaks in her Hackney home.

Kiri Charles, who works with the deaf-blind community, said things came to a head when a tree fell on the roof of her property - which is managed by Sanctuary Housing.

The incident, she said, broke an already weak joist in the roof, and now according to a surveyor from CRL, it is crumbling.

As a result, the family of three are all sleeping together in the sitting room.

“I’m begging to God,” said Kiri, who has lived in the property for ten years. “I need help. I’ve gone through so much. I just want a safe home.”

Ham & High: Kiri Charles has called for greater supportKiri Charles has called for greater support (Image: Kiri Charles)

As a single mother, Kiri has cared for her children, who both live with disabilities.

Her son and daughter are autistic. Her daughter has asthma and scoliosis, conditions which affect her heart and lungs and require specialist treatment and are worsened by the damp and mould in the house.

A potential gas leak, identified by a CRL surveyor hired by Sanctuary, means Kiri cannot use her cooker. She is particularly anxious about this as her father died in 1991 from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Food preparation is difficult as it attracts ant infestations, she added.

Kiri says she has done her best. She said she has paid for vermin control, painted over damp patches, filled in holes in her bedroom wall, all on her nurse’s salary and as the sole household earner.

But when she asked for help from her housing officer at Sanctuary, she said she often was unable to get through on the phone and they refused to do home visits on Covid grounds.

Most recently a contractor did visit and registered repairs to be done on the system – but this was about two weeks ago.

She turned to Resolute Legal a fortnight ago, a law firm representing council and social housing association tenants over housing issues. Repairs with their contractor should start later this month.

Bobby, a housing surveyor for the firm - who did not want to give his surname - has visited homes for more than 20 years.

He said: “The conditions are as bad as they have ever been in the social housing market.

“Issues of austerity and Covid and many years of people being ignored have led to all types of issues affecting physical and mental health.”

He recognises Kiri’s claims, saying there is far less accountability in social housing under private housing associations than with council housing.

He says too often contractors hired by associations are not specialists trained to deal with complex problems.

“If you actually see how people live you would be horrified. We’ve got to start treating people with more care.”

He added that from his experience repairs always seem to get done much more quickly in private housing in comparison to social housing.

Sem Moema is the chairman of the London Labour Housing Group in the London Assembly and has been a Hackney councillor for more than eight years.

Although she is reticent to ‘name and shame’, she said the council deals with an awful lot of housing association cases.

“Nobody wants anybody to live in a non-decent home,” she said.

Sanctuary said: “We have been in regular contact with our tenant and work to treat mould, repair cracks in a wall and deal with an ant infestation have been carried out at this property.

“While further appointments had been arranged to assess damp and roof concerns, they have since been postponed as we must now liaise with a solicitor who has contacted us on the tenant’s behalf.

“We are committed to agreeing the work required with the solicitor and tenant and then completing it as soon as possible.”