CityWest Homes: Maida Vale family tell of nightmare leak ordeal as complaints mount
PUBLISHED: 19:30 12 September 2018
A Maida Vale family with an ill daughter, was left sleeping on the living room floor for almost a week after beleaguered housing provider CityWest Homes struggled to organise repairs.
Leaseholders Adel and Dalya Fadhel, who have lived with their daughters in Glasgow House on the Maida Vale estate for over five years, were unable to use their bedrooms as water from the flat upstairs poured from the ceiling.
Water came through two light fittings in the master and children’s bedrooms, and also seeped through the corner of both ceilings. This meant Adel, Dalya and daughters Neda, six, and Dania, nine, were forced to camp out in their living room.
It took local Labour MP Karen Buck’s intervention to spur CityWest into action, Adel told the Ham&High.
He said: “I called them many times, I told them my daughters had allergies and asthma, and then my elder daughter developed an ear infection. She had to have an operation.”
“I called them but it didn’t make a difference until Karen got involved – she called and they got someone here straight away.”
During their ordeal, Dania’s ear infection added to the family’s distress. Mum Dalya told this newspaper: “I felt awful. When I needed help, they didn’t listen. I was very scared.”
The situation was complicated as the upstairs residents are on an extended holiday, but Adel couldn’t understand why CityWest Homes weren’t able to find a solution quickly.
He added: “They’re the landlords, right? And it’s the third time this has happened with the flooding, the contractor even told me it needs a permanent fix.”
Adel and Dalya’s case is just one of many as disgruntled CityWest residents complain in their droves.
This comes as local politicians have upped the pressure on CityWest Homes, demanding that the arms-length organisation re-opens its estates offices, which were closed last year and replaced with a call centre operation.
Caseworkers from Karen Buck’s office are dealing with “around 20 complaints about CityWest a week, borough wide”, while local Labour councillors have highlighted 23 horror stories from this summer.
Karen told the Ham&High: “I am once again seeing a surge in both the numbers and severity of CityWest Homes disrepair cases, including some where I was assured that the issue had been fixed, only to find some time after that it had not.
“Last year’s changes – introducing a call centre model and changing contractors at the same time – saw the service fall off a cliff but it did seem as though things improved over the spring.
“I’m really distressed by some of the cases I am now seeing, though, and am very anxious about CWH’s capacity to respond during the autumn and winter.
“Staff generally do their best, but we now need a clear commitment from the top to do what is necessary to turn the service around.”
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour’s environment spokesperson in the borough said “We want to ensure that CityWest Homes gets back to working order as soon as possible. That involves bringing back the estates offices and taking action to ensure that the call centre responds quickly.
“We want to see a service that gets repairs right first time.”
A spokesperson for CityWest Homes said: “We know how difficult it can be for residents when repairs are not done on time and we are working hard to continue to improve our repairs service.”
CityWest said it gets 4000 reports a month and repairs more than 90 per cent of issues on time.
Addressing Adel and Dalya’s case, CityWest said: “In this case, the leak to the resident’s property was in the flat above and the owners of this flat were away.
“We did manage to locate relatives of the owners who helped us enter and the problem was rectified. Normally, repairs like this are done in 24 hours but, due to the lack of access, it unfortunately took four days.
“This delay meant we could not solve the problem as quickly as we would like and we can only apologise for the delay and the distress it caused.”
CityWest also stressed residents were welcome to visit one of four area service centres across Westminster or attend a drop-in session to report problems.
The drop-in sessions were started after a resident’s consultation.
Westminster Council is currently reviewing CityWest Homes’ performance and has been working with CityWest to improve service, including by launching a special leak-focused repair team.