Seven years of misery for Hightown housing family
- Credit: Jade Lazell
A single mum with two children is demanding action after enduring nightmarish living conditions in her St Albans property for seven years.
Jade Lazell, her four-year-old son and her 15-year-old daughter are living in a hotel room due to ongoing problems at her Hightown Housing Association flat where she has lived for 11 years.
The mum-of-two says that for more than seven years her property has been plagued by leaks and water damage which have even resulted in mushrooms growing out of her living room carpet.
Although she pays £746 per month to rent the Keble Court property, located on the former Oaklands College site off Hatfield Road, maintenance staff have attributed the damage to not opening the window when she washes her clothes.
Jade says she understands this is a common deflection used by maintenance staff to pass the buck onto tenants.
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After years of disrepair and water coming through her ceiling, Jade was moved temporarily to a Travelodge where she has been for three weeks.
She is still expected to pay 80 per cent of her rent on the property even though she cannot live there, and has been given a daily budget of £25 for all food and drink, excluding breakfast which is included for guests.
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Jade said: "This is the third week I am having to go between the hotel room and my flat, getting things I need and chasing up repair appointments or being there for maintenance people.
"I have no idea when my family and I will be able to return to the flat. I am back on antidepressants and awaiting support from mental health workers and my children have had to miss school because of the stress of it all.
"My daughter has terrible anxiety because of all the uncertainty."
A spokesperson from Hightown Housing Association said: "We are very sorry that our tenant has been experiencing issues in her home and we understand how difficult this situation has been for Ms Lazell and her family.
"We have carried out temporary repairs to the roof while we undertake the required more extensive works. As these repairs will take several weeks, we are in discussions with Ms Lazell to identify other, more suitable temporary housing options while the works are completed.
"In the meantime, Hightown will continue to cover the cost of hotel accommodation and a daily food allowance agreed for the family. We only move tenants temporarily to a hotel if their home is not habitable and alternative accommodation is not immediately available and understand that this is a difficult and distressing period. Works to repair the roof are continuing and we are in regular contact with Ms Lazell."
Jade has since been offered another flat which she has declined because her friend who lives on the same residential development has had years of problematic repair and leak issues.
She said: "The staff at Hightown keep putting pressure on me to view the property and trying to cajole me into saying I am happy to stay in the hotel when I am not."