'I can't live like this': Mum whose ceiling collapsed twice says son could have been killed

  • ITV News Correspondent Daniel Hewitt met Nicole Walters, the mother who filmed her flat ceiling collapse

A mother whose ceiling collapsed twice after persistent water leaks in the flat above, has told ITV News her son "could have died" and that her life is being ruined because of poor housing conditions.

Nicole Walters, who recorded a video on Sunday of water gushing through the ceiling, said the debris fell on the spot where he normally sits to play video games.

A clip of the moment the water breaks through was shared by a relative and has been viewed 150,000 times on Twitter.

Sunday's incident was the second time the ceiling has caved in in three years.

Watch the shocking video here:

Ms Walters said the problems started in her flat in 2017 and since then she has only had "six to nine months" where there have not been leaks from above.

In 2018, she was at home asleep on her sofa when a large part of the ceiling collapsed onto her, injuring her foot.

The problem is so persistent, Ms Walters told ITV News, that her son says the house "is a leaking house".

"It shouldn’t have to be like that, he’s only a child but in his mind our house leaks all the time, and that’s not normal, but it’s so sad that he think that’s normal," she said.

Ms Walters works as a chef and runs a food delivery service, but says the constant problems with her flat are impacting her business.

She said: "I feel like every time it gets to a point where I feel comfortable in my business, something happens to the house again and I am stuck and I can’t trade.

"Even though it ruins my life when it’s leaking, the domino effect of it ruins my life after that because it takes ages for things to get back to normal, and then when normal comes it’s another six months of hell.

"I’m tired of complaining, I just want a permanent place for me and my son to be able to call home.

"It’s not fair, I just want to leave, I don’t want to be living in this condition."

She criticised Southwark Council, who she says she has complained to constantly about the leaks, saying they need to "listen and take action".

Ms Walters said the council needed "to start listening and taking action because people will lose their lives.

"I injured my leg for three to four months, I was unable to work so even after they plastered the ceiling, I was physically unable.

"All they have to do is just listen and take action.

She added: "If you listen early then lives wouldn’t be ruined, my life wouldn’t be ruined."

Ms Walters believes if she was "more wealthy" then she wouldn't be in this situation.

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She said: "I work hard, I'm trying to build a foundation for my son and I think it’s unfair that, as working class, we have to be going through all this extra stuff because we’re not the higher class because we’re not white why is that?

"I think if I was a bit more wealthy, maybe this wouldn’t have happened, maybe my voice would have been heard.

"Being from a black background, I feel there’s a lot of struggles.

"This is not fair, I’m just trying to build myself for me and my son to have a good foundation and I can’t even have a place to call home.

She added: "How is that right?"

The council have apologised for the "distress and inconvenience" caused to Ms Walters and her family and say they have been in touch about the options available to her.

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Council Homes and Homelessness at Southwark Council, said: “I am really sorry for the distress and inconvenience this has caused Ms Walters and her family while we work to find a solution she is comfortable with as quickly as possible.

"We have been in contact with Ms Walters today to discuss the options available to her, including temporary accommodation and permanent re-housing.

"We will also be looking at what compensation she may be entitled to.

“Leaks from above are one of the most common issues homeowners and tenants face.

"At Southwark, we have a dedicated leaks from above team who offer specialist support to our residents as the leak is resolved and their home is repaired, from start to finish.

"As many of the buildings on our estates are very old, such as in Ms Walter’s case, they are more vulnerable to issues, such as leaks, than modern blocks.

“We have responded to multiple issues reported by Ms Walters.

"In 2017, we repaired the bedroom ceiling and in 2018, we renewed the shower tray in the flat above and relayed waterproof flooring following leaks from the shower area."

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Council Homes and Homelessness at Southwark Council, said: “We apologise unreservedly for the stress, disruption and frustration felt by Ms Walters, we have let her down and she deserved greater respect, and to be listened to when she told us, repeatedly, that there was a bigger issue with her home. While we fixed the repairs many times, we did not fix the whole problem in this case. We will fully investigate what happened here to see how we could have dealt with this issue better. She will be fully compensated, we will find her a new home in the borough temporarily and offer her the highest priority for a permanent move in Southwark.”

Do you have a story to share about housing conditions? Email housingstories@itv.com