National News

Supplied by

Line 18: My ‘house of horrors’ puts my children at risk

6:43 am, 21st September 2018

One of them is a quality crisis – for many homes, the big problem is neither supply nor demand but the state of the building. Our data showed Liverpool was the number one city for poor quality housing.

Cheryl Tomlinson, 27, found herself homeless and on Liverpool council’s housing waiting list when she was six months pregnant.

Here the mother of two, tells Sky News the problems she’s endured in the past five months:

I used to have a flat in the city centre, but when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter it made sense to move in with my partner, and get out of the city.

But sadly our relationship soon broke down and I found myself pregnant and homeless with a young toddler.

I looked for private rental homes which would accept housing benefit, but I didn’t fit their criteria because I couldn’t get a guarantor.

After speaking with the homeless team at the council, I was given a room in a Travelodge in town, ironically, on the street I had left so I didn’t have to bring up my baby in the busy city centre.

I was at the hotel for two weeks before I was given temporary accommodation by a charity for three months.

The council ranked me as ‘Band A’ which meant I was able to apply for three houses each week from their list.

Despite applying every week, I was told that I actually wasn’t eligible for them after all.

Instead I was told I was eligible for houses in rougher areas – although I’m not from Liverpool originally, I know the areas pretty well now.

I was given three streets I could go to look around before I was offered a house.

It was either that or face being kicked off the list with the council ending their responsibility for me.

So I accepted a two-up two-down Victorian terrace house which is where I live now.

But when I looked around it I was gutted to see there were no fixtures or fittings in place.

The tiled flooring was cracked and broken – not safe for a toddler.

I was told I’d have to sign the tenancy and move in straight away, because the rent had to be paid.

So I was very grateful when the charity which maintained the temporary accommodation I was staying in told me I could stay with them a bit longer while the house was fixed.

They said they couldn’t let me move in while pregnant and with a small child.

The charity even said they would help with any money problems later down the line because I would be late moving in.

Flooring is classified as decorative so I had to take out a loan to pay for the floor to be replaced with laminate.

It’s really a house of horrors.

I’ve had a broken extractor fan the whole time while I’ve been living here. We have had to deal with rats in the garden and fly tipped rubbish where the houses back onto each other.

There’s been mould in the house too.

Then two months ago, the mains water pipe burst.

It burst because it’s made of plastic and the skirting board had been rubbing it.

The housing association paid for the repair because it’s structural, but I’m worried it could happen again.

It only replaced the damaged part with copper, not the whole pipe, so I’ve no idea if the rest of it is safe.

I’ve fought to have them replace the flooring that was damaged by the pipe, but even though I agreed to meet them halfway two months ago, I’ve heard nothing since.

I also had to demand they come back to fix the skirting board because it was ripped and jagged from the work they did.

My 17-month-old daughter could grab it and hurt herself – they would be liable for it.

When I called the emergency line to have the mains repaired, they sent out a gas engineer not a plumber, as they needed to make sure they hit their target call out time, even though he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

I used to work on the emergency call lines in London, and I know what the spiel is.

I just don’t want to hear it anymore.