Woman, 57, unable to go home for four months for fear ceiling will collapse

Water began leaking through the ceiling of Fatima Djabra’s flat in Brixton in December, causing it to partially collapse and leaving her fearful it will fully fall through

Fatima Djabra says large hole in her kitchen has made it smell of damp

A woman has been forced from her home for four months due to a serious leak.

Fatima Djabra’s flat in Brixton, south London hasn’t been repaired months after water began cascading into the kitchen.

The leak caused part of the ceiling to collapse in December, My London reported.

Four months on and the Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) property has not been repaired, leaving her fearful that the ceiling could collapse on top of her if she returns.

The 57-year-old says the large hole has caused her kitchen to smell of damp.

MTVH claim that they fixed the leak before Christmas, Fatima says she had to replace and empty buckets for at least two months because water was continuing to drip through her ceiling.

The 57-year-old says she also has mold issues


Fatima Djabra)

Even though Fatima is currently not living in her one-bed flat, she still has to pay MTVH £504 a month in rent, as well as council tax and bills.

She claims that MTVH told her it will not reimburse her rent in full because she decided to leave the property a few days after her ceiling collapsed.

Fatima said: “(MTVH) insists I should have stayed there and should not have left the flat. Even though the kitchen is damaged and I can’t use it to cook.

“It is as thought they think I decided to mess up my life for three months just for fun. I’m very angry about that, the ceiling just dropped.

“It’s recurring that’s why I’m very upset and anxious, it’s just the same problem over and over again.”

She is afraid that the ceiling could collapse


Fatima Djabra)

Fatima, who is a teaching assistant at a local primary school, returned to her flat twice a day to swap and empty the bucket.

She claims her kitchen floor has now changed shape and that fungus and mold has begun to surface as a result of the damp.

This is not the first time that Fatima, who first moved into her flat in 2004, has encountered disrepair issues in her home.

In 2005 a leak started and was not fixed and repaired until 2007, she claims.

By the time it was her kitchen, bedroom and bathroom were seriously damaged, along with her mental health.

While Fatima was seven months pregnant in 2007 she had a stillbirth – something she attributes to the stress of her living situation.

She said: “During this time, my emotional state started to go downhill. I think it contributed to the (stillbirth) because I was stressed, I had to fight with these people and they would not stop.

“Even though I lost my baby 14 years ago, it feels like it was yesterday because of all of this stuff. I was completely denied any support whatsoever.

“I’m not happy about the way they’ve treated me or that there’s a real issue in this property.”

Fatima hasn’t lived at the home for four months


Fatima Djabra)

When Fatima reported the most recent leak in December 2021, she claims she was told “there was nothing (MTVH) could do” because there was allegedly an asbestos infestation.

The following Saturday, the ceiling partially collapsed in the middle of the night.

Fatima left the following day, fearful that she was living with asbestos and that more of the ceiling could collapse and injure her.

She added: “It smells, the kitchen isn’t repaired and I can’t use it. I don’t want to be there if another part of the ceiling drops. I don’t feel safe.

“I have to go through the same thing, having to fight, having to leave my home.

“But I still have to work and pay the rent and bills because if I don’t do that (MTVH) will kick me out.”

As well as paying for her own rent and bills, Fatima is also helping to cover her friends’ bills for the duration of her stay there.

She claims that she was offered just a 10% reduction off her rent for the past three months – an offer she refused.

Fatima, who has requested to be placed into a new home, fears it will take years for her to eventually be rehoused.

She is currently being advised by a legal team while she begins stage two of the complaints procedure for housing disrepair and for a potential housing transfer.

She added: “Enough is enough. They need to stop ruining my life.

“They need to stop now. It’s not fair.

“I want to be able to come home and relax.

“I want to have a bath, have something to eat and I want to read a book.

“But I can’t do that because they put me in a flat where I can’t do that.”

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A spokesperson for Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing said: “We understand the difficult impact that these issues continue to have on Ms Djabra.

“We have carried out repairs to Ms Djabra’s home over a number of years including the leak which had damaged the ceiling which we fixed before Christmas.

“MTVH has been actively working on the issues raised by Ms. Djabra and her legal representatives since February 2022.

“As such, we carried out a swift and thorough inspection and found no signs of damp in the kitchen or the bathroom.

“We’ve agreed with Ms Djabra to make good the ceiling in her kitchen and redecorate.

“Moving forward, we have agreed with Ms. Djabra and her legal team what works need to be done and how long this is likely to take.

“We plan to begin these works before the end of the month.

“We are doing all that we can, but we appreciate that this is a home and such works can be distressing and disruptive.

“We will continue to work in close contact with Ms. Djabra.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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