Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Our house is falling apart

A CANCER patient says the crumbling condition of her family’s rented home is making her illness worse.

A CANCER patient says the crumbling condition of her family’s rented home is making her illness worse.

Julie Farney, 45, lives in a three-bedroom house with her partner Mark Lawrence and children, Callum, 16, and Jamie, three, in Luker Avenue, Henley.

But she says the property has not been right since she moved in six years ago because the previous tenant had removed a kitchen wall and they can’t use one bedroom.

The family rent the property from housing association Soha and claim that it has failed to carry out the necessary repairs.

Mss Farney, who had a double mastectomy in February last year and is still undergoing treatment, said: “When I came to look at this property the woman had so much furniture that I honestly did not notice all the problems. Everything was covered up by the wallpaper.

“When I did, I started phoning Soha — I have lost count of how many times I have called.

“I did not know about the wall before I moved in but we have since been told that there is no support beam so it’s quite dangerous. It is making the whole house drop so that there are gaps upstairs.

“It is getting worse. There are cracks everywhere and they are getting bigger and bigger and every room is beginning to disintegrate. My worry is that one of my children will fall through the ceiling upstairs.

“It is also costing us a fortune to heat the house because all the heat is going out of the cracks.”

Ms Farney, a student support assistant at The Henley College, says the condition of the house makes her feel unhappy.

“I have not had a good year and I am still undergoing treatment every three weeks so this is the last thing I need,” she said.

“I have not had the strength to fight Soha over the past year but I have just returned to work and am doing 18-hour weeks.

“When I was poorly and in bed I would look around the place and it just made me so depressed.

“The reason that I am really angry now is that I have been so ill and I have got a hysterectomy and reconstructive breast surgery still to go through.”

The couple have to share their bedroom with Jamie because of the condition of the second bedroom and Callum sleeps in the smallest bedroom.

Ms Farney said: “Four months ago someone came and plaster-boarded the ceiling in the second bedroom but left the rest as it was.

“We want Callum in there but there is no point in moving him in only to have to move him out again.”

She said the teenager was fed up at not being able to invite his friends from Gillotts School to the house because his room is so small.

“He is doing his GCSEs and I feel so sorry for him,” she said. “He has nowhere to study and that big room has been abandoned. Our three-year-old should be in the small room rather than in with us. It is not good for him to be in with us at his age.”

Mr Lawrence, 42, who cannot work due to a kidney transplant six years ago, said: “Soha first sent an engineer out to look at this house before Jamie was born, that’s how long it has been going on. We have had all sorts of engineers saying different things. Last year a guy came round to survey the property and told us not to take a bath because it might not take the weight and to have showers instead. When you stand in the bath you can hear it creaking.

“In the last six months it has got a lot worse and at night you can hear lots of cracking noises. This has been dragging on and on. We feel like we have been going round in circles.”

Ms Farney said she wanted the repairs done rather than having to leave the house as she likes the area and her mother lives next door.

“I can walk to work and to the doctor and we are near Jamie’s nursery and Callum is near Gillotts. I have asked to be moved out of the property while the work is done as we cannot live in a building site.

“It is a complete nightmare — our little boy’s birthday is coming up and we cannot have a party for him here because I am embarrassed and do not even want my friends back here.”

A Soha spokesman said: “We were made aware that this property needed internal and external structural repairs last year. It was decided and agreed that owing to the tenant’s ongoing health problems only external works would be completed. These were completed in October. At that time internal works were agreed to go ahead in February this year.

“However, the structural engineer requested further site visits to remove an area of ground floor ceiling and then to carry out further site investigation to make sure he fully understood any possible problems.

“An asbestos survey was also required before we could proceed and the results from this were received at the end of March. A structural engineer then visited the property. We then approached appropriate contractors for this job. In order for them to fully understand any possible internal structural damage it was necessary for a contractor to then visit the property.”

He said another appointment was in the process of being arranged.

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