‘My home was so damp there were slugs on floor’

STRESSFUL TIME ... Natalie McKee and two-year-old daughter Lilly-Mae.
STRESSFUL TIME ... Natalie McKee and two-year-old daughter Lilly-Mae.

A MOTHER from South Tyneside says housing chiefs need to do more to communicate with tenants during home improvement work.

Natalie McKee says her family’s life has been turned upside down since she first raised the issue of damp in her home in Somerset Road, Jarrow, last year.

Work was carried out in a bid to rectify the problem but, by October, the issue of damp still hadn’t been resolved and Miss McKee says she was waking to find slugs on her living room floor.

After complaining again about the problem, she was told more work needed to be done and her family would need to move out of the property.

Believing the work would only take four to six weeks, Miss McKee, her partner Ian and three children – Cameron, aged 11, Shardeh, six, and Lilly-Mae, two, moved into her mother’s home on March 17.

However, she says it took three weeks until work actually started on the property, which she claims has left her carpet ruined.

After contacting the housing department again, she was told more problems had been found in her home and work would take longer than first thought.

Unable to stay at her mum’s for any longer, she contacted local councillor John McCabe for help in finding an alternative property for her family to move into.

Miss McKee, who is now temporarily living in Blackpool Parade, Hebburn, said: “The whole thing has been a mess from start to finish. We were offered a decant property at the start but they said the work would only be a few weeks, so we moved in with my mum.

“As soon as they knew it was going to take longer, they should have told us and offered us another property.

“It was only when I got the councillor involved, we were offered a place and when we got here, our furniture didn’t fit and there were no blinds or anything up at the windows.

“It has just been one thing after another.

“The only way we could get our sofa into the house was through the window, which my partner had to remove himself because they didn’t have any glaziers available. There was nowhere to put our fridge freezer, so they’ve given us a small one which you can hardly store anything in.”

Miss McKee said she feels more needs to be done to communicate with tenants.

She said: “We are a family of five and I have an autistic son to look after and I haven’t been out of hospital that long after an operation.

“It has been so stressful. I keep popping back to the property but I don’t see anyone there doing anything. I am constantly having to get in touch with the council to ask what is happening, but it just seems no one knows what the other one is doing.

“We have one person saying one thing and another saying something else. We were told we didn’t need to take our carpets out and now they are ruined.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Homes said: “Ms McKee was originally told that the damp problems in her property would take between three and six weeks to rectify. She agreed to move in with a family member rather than wait for another property to become available.

“Treating damp will often necessitate allowing the property to dry before work is carried out.

“Following the initial assessment, contractors discovered that more extensive work would be required to damp proof the property.

“Ms McKee has now been moved into a decant property while this work is ongoing and her Housing Management Officer is in regular contact to keep her informed about the situation.”

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