Family-of-four living in Travelodge after Hightown flat leak nightmare

Family of four in St Albans Travelodge after months of problems in Hightown property.

Family of four in St Albans Travelodge after months of problems in Hightown property. - Credit: Andrew Farquarson

A family of four has been living in one room at a Travelodge after a leak in their housing association flat was left to get worse. 

Hightown Housing Association moved Katie Coates and Kane Rafferty and their three-year-old twin boys into the city centre hotel room on June 30 following ongoing issues with a leak at their property in Ellis House, Charrington Place. 

Kane and Katie first contacted this newspaper almost a year ago after feeling they were "being fobbed off and given false promises" when it came to repairs to their home.

This time last year the leak was such a problem that the couple were crying every day and not sleeping at all. They bought a dehumidifier to soak up some of the damp but the cost of their electricity bills rocketed.

Katie told us back then: "I am really worried about the health of my twin boys. The whole bathroom is just horrible. There is mould and water all over the wall. We cannot decorate over it as the workman told us it will just come back."

Eleven months later the leak in the ceiling of their bathroom still hasn't been adequately repaired and the family have been housed in a single hotel room for their own wellbeing.

The family of four was given just a £20 daily food allowance (breakfast is included in the hotel stay) but following intervention from Kane's parents Andrew and Teresa May Farquarson the daily budget was raised to £40.

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Katie Coates said: "We don't have access to a cooker or fridge so we have to eat either takeaways or pub meals.

"I've now been signed off work sick. We are struggling to understand why they have let us stay for as long as they did. It's really affecting us mentally - it's draining. My twins are waking up through the night crying because they want to go home."

Hightown has finally accepted that the couple should be rehoused and they have now agreed on a new property but due to necessary repairs they do not have a moving-in date.

A spokesperson for Hightown said: "We are very sorry that our tenants have been experiencing problems with their home. The managing agent, First Port, is responsible for arranging the repairs and we have been liaising with them to speed up the required repairs.

"To support our tenants and in response to the delays in the works being completed, we agreed to offer them alternative accommodation. They declined two offers of alternative accommodation but we are pleased that they have recently accepted a permanent move to another home in St Albans, which they are expected to move to in mid-July.

"As soon as we heard about the recent leak to their bathroom ceiling we arranged for the family to temporarily move into a hotel while waiting for their move to take place.

"The tenants remain responsible for the rent on their home which has been discounted to reflect the current building issues. Hightown is currently covering the cost of hotel accommodation and a daily food allowance agreed with the tenants."