Leytonstone woman stuck in the middle of row between landlord and housing association over leak

A disabled Leytonstone woman has been left in potential danger for years after her housing association failed to fix a long-standing leak.

Marjorie Lambert-Foote lives in a block on Peach Grove owned by Peabody and has repeatedly reported a leak in the flat above her, which drips into her store room.

Just before Christmas 2019, so much water dripped onto her fuse box that it shorted her electricity, damaging her belongings and causing the food in her freezer to thaw.

Peabody responded by shutting off the water to the flat above and, in March 2020, sold it to a private landlord, who it has since argued is now responsible for fixing the leak.

New landlord Sandeep Prinja, unaware of the leak when he bought the flat, will not let the property until it is fixed due to the risk to Marjorie but feels Peabody has a “moral duty” to pay.

Marjorie’s daughter Colette said: “Peabody knew there was something wrong with the flat when they sold it at auction, they had tried to repair it before but they failed.

“My mum is partially sighted and it’s dangerous because the leak is going on the fuse box and she would not even see the water on the floor, she would just fall over it.”

Colette visited the flat the last time it flooded, just before Christmas in 2019, while her mum was away on holiday.

She said: “I switched on the light and there was a massive explosion. I went into the cupboard (to check the fuse box) and it was full of water.

“I had to walk down to the council and explain what had happened. Her freezer was full of food and a lot of my mum’s things got damaged but Peabody didn’t want to pay for anything.”

Mr Prinja discovered the leak in April, after switching on the boiler in the flat for the first time and noticing that the pressure consistently dropped after it had been on for ten minutes.

He said it took until December for Peabody to get a contractor to assess the leak but that the company later backed out of the job and no one appears to have been hired since.

Mr Prinja said: “It’s terrible, I have been quite calm all year but I bought this as an investment and my life has been on hold since.

“I have lost rental income, which has caused stress for me and my family. Some people might have rented out the property anyway, but I was hoping it would all get sorted.

“The whole point of housing associations is to support vulnerable people like Marjorie but I think (founder) George Peabody would be turning in his grave if he could see what was going on.”

A Peabody spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear of Mr Prinja’s frustration.

“Homeowners are responsible for repairs to their own property but, in view of the impact this is having on neighbours, we are supporting him in trying to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

Peabody was contacted by MP John Cryer’s office, on behalf of Mr Prinja, to ask why it had sold him a flat which it knew had a leak.

In an email sent on May 13, a spokesperson responded: “Our general position in these matters is that we don’t carry out any checks ourselves when reselling homes. They are purchased as seen and caveat emptor applies.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter