'Unliveable' housing conditions could be part of 'wider systemic problem', council leader says

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt

Two south London flats dubbed the "worst housing conditions ever seen" could be part of a wider systemic problem in the local council, its leader has said.

On Monday, ITV News revealed the dangerous squalor residents in Croydon have been living in, despite repeated calls to the council for repairs.

Since 2019, residents of the block on Regina Road in South Norwood have been complaining to their landlord, Croydon Council, of leaks in their flats that made their homes uninhabitable.

Council leader Hamida Ali appeared before the Housing and Local Government Committee to be questioned on financial sustainability, after the council declared itself bankrupt in November last year.

When the committee leader, Labour's Clive Betts, raised the conditions uncovered by ITV News, Ms Ali said she was concerned the issue did not stop at the flats that were filmed.

Ms Ali said: "My worry is that there is a bigger and more systemic issue at play here."

  • Council leader responds to questions about the housing conditions from the housing committee

She ruled out that the state of the flats had anything to do with the council's financial strife, saying: "This situation was not a financial one, our housing revenue was in balance."

She also apologised once again for the housing conditions, adding that she's working hard to address the implications of the findings.

"What does that mean for the rest of our residents and what does that mean for how we are responding?" she asked.

Committee leader Clive Betts compared the revelations to those following the Grenfell Tower Fire, where residents of the tower block said they had repeatedly complained about their housing conditions before the disaster.

The committee proceedings were watched by Fransoy Hewitt - a Croydon Council flat tenant forced to endure appalling conditions with her two children for over four months.

"She is the head of the council and I've been reporting this to the council for too long for her to not know about it," Ms Hewitt said.

The soaking wet carpet in Fransoy's flat. Credit: ITV News

"She's clearly not doing her job properly."

Ms Ali told the committee she wants other locals living in these conditions to come forward for support.

Yasmin Hamilton, who lives in a Croydon Council flat, said she been trying to do that for five years.

She said she has to deal with mould, damp and severe leaking. Despite complaining, very little has been done about her situation.

  • Croydon resident Yasmin Hamilton describes the damp and mould in her flat

"I'm just drained, I've given up cause they've not done nothing, so what can i do?" she said.

She told ITV News that the mould gets over her children's clothes and she consequently has to wipe water from the floor due to leaks.

Ms Hamilton added that when mould appears on the wall, the council sends someone round to wipe it down, only for it to resurface again and that no long-term solution has been implemented.

In response to Ms Hamilton's claims, Croydon Council said it "carried out a range of repairs to this flat in February, including full mould washes and fixing cracked walls and, because this is a ventilation issue, we have installed new automatic fans which should alleviate the problem".