Family's ceiling crashes down despite claiming they warned council 'many times'
A family who claim their living room ceiling collapsed due to "shoddy jobs" say they are exhausted from complaining to the council who they told "many times" about a leak.
The family-of-three who live in a three-bed council house in Blakeney Close, in Hackney South, London, said they repeatedly warned the council that the leak was getting out of control and had made its way to the living room ceiling, where mum, Stella Onofeta, 58, normally exercises.
They say they have spent years telling the council about the disrepair - with repair jobs half-finished or no answer from the council at all.
On top of this they say they have lived with mould, damp, mice and asbestos for more than 20 years at their home, reported MyLondon.
The ceiling eventually collapsed on September 29 while Stella, who is an NHS nurse, was on the phone complaining to the council about it. Luckily nobody was directly underneath the ceiling at the time, but it still terrified the family.
Stella's daughter, Bekke Popoola, 28 told MyLondon: "What if that fell on my mum while she was exercising? It was very hard to think about.
"At this point, I don't have the energy. Its stressful for all of us. You get exhausted explaining yourself all over again. It’s hell.
"It’s very frustrating, we go through so much as a family already. Our home is our space, it’s our haven and it’s falling apart. We're living in a very toxic environment where things are falling apart - literally."
The council previously attempted to repair the living room leak, which was coming from the bathroom above, but they sent a plasterer to the property instead of a plumber - and the leak returned again.
After it collapsed last month, the council said they would send a plumber round the same day - however no one came until a day later, it is claimed.
It has now left a huge hole in the living room, where mould is causing an unpleasant smell.
Bekke said the family has been complaining about the leaks for well over a decade.
She continued: "I feel at some point we have to know what the difference is between excuses because if you’re sending people to do jobs in the first place and they’re doing a very shoddy job - we complained about our living room leaking years ago, all they did was patch it up.
"We had a shower system and they just removed it so we don’t have a shower - none of that in our bathroom upstairs. We told them many times they need to come and look at the leak issue because it was in the living room."
Bekke says the ceiling is one of many "shoddy jobs" carried out by repairmen over the years, and the family's utility room ceiling is another problem, as it contains asbestos.
"The council told us they can’t do repairs until it’s been removed, they said they would forward it on to somebody else, I called the asbestos line but couldn't get through to anyone," Bekke added.
"If we have asbestos in one place, where else do we have asbestos in this house?"
Bekke's brother, Yusuf, 24, recently recovered from Covid but his health is at risk as he sleeps directly above the utility room. It's not just the physical health of the family that's taken a toll, it's also impacted their mental wellbeing.
Before they moved in 2001, the family were forced to sleep in the living room after a pipe burst and flooded the entire house. Stella and her three children had to move into temporary accommodation before eventually moving into their current three-bed.
Bekke recalls: "We were basically homeless, and we were asking for help. My mum was doing all this bidding, my mum was cooperative and everything.
"My mum was in tears - to see my mum go through that at a young age is very sad and confusing because you just feel helpless because you're watching your mother suffer. You're suffering with your mother, we have nothing.
"The whole situation is triggering all over again, my mother's older now - she can't go through this all over again. It’s stressful. She works a lot, she works very hard."
Vermin is another issue for the family, mice have infested the entire property because of "botched jobs" by the council's repair team.
Bekke and her family are tired of explaining their story to different people on the phone, they are pleading with the council to live in a clean house for the first time in over 20 years.
She added: " The vermin feels like a nightmare, it’s like I’m in a horror movie - I want things to be done, the negligence is a lot. When we speak to Hackney council on the phone, we speak to so many people. So we’re getting different information all the time.
"Our story has stayed straight, we’re over explaining ourselves every time. Each time they say they don’t understand what we’re saying."
Meg Hillier, Labour and Co-op MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch said: "I cannot disclose personal information about constituents who get in touch with me.
Speaking to MyLondon a council spokesperson said: “We’re sorry Ms Popoola is experiencing repair issues in her property; we have made contact with her in order to resolve any ongoing issues she may have.
"Hackney was subject to a criminal cyberattack in October 2020, which has affected how quickly we are able to carry out non-urgent and follow-up repairs, as well as our ability to keep residents up-to-date with the status of repairs. Hackney is working really hard to improve our repair service systems, and we’re sorry for the ongoing frustration and inconvenience this is causing residents.
The Mirror has contacted Hackney council for comment.