Mother and three-year-old son left for three months without heating

By Ryan Hogg

A mother and her toddler have been left with a broken boiler for nearly three months in their South London council property.

Rachel Grant, 39, of Bilton House, Lambeth, said she and her three-year-old son had been left in the cold by Lambeth council’s housing team, who have now repaired the broken boiler three months after a complaint was first made.

Rachel’s son, Caleb Barrett-Grant, has been suffering from flu-like illnesses for most of their three months without heating.

Miss Grant said: “I feel completely hopeless – no one listened for so long.

“I can’t believe they have made me go through all of this for heating.”

Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, a broken boiler should be replaced within two days of first report of a problem.

Miss Grant’s partner, Leona Barrett, 35, said the pair have had to spend up to £3,500 as a result of losing heating, with costs including buying electric heaters, medicine for their son, and replacing a cooker damaged while boiling water for their son’s bath.

The couple keep the curtains closed to retain heat.

Mr Barrett said: “Most of the time we’re just sitting in the dark.

“It’s like they have forgotten about us.”

Miss Grant and Mr Barrett’s son Caleb was due to begin nursery in September this year, but has been forced to spend a considerable amount of time at home as a result of regular illness.

The parents said they were taking turns waking up to turn on the electric heater to ensure their son was warm enough during the night.

Mr Barrett said: “If we miss a turn to wake up to turn it on he will be literally freezing.

“My partner is crying all the time. She feels like she is letting her son down.”

They also said their boiler has broken five or six times since Rachel moved in with her son in February 2020.

Lambeth council replaced the boiler on November 18, several months after Miss Grant first lodged her complaint.

The council said: “We are in the process of replacing Ms Grant’s boiler, a new boiler has been ordered and will be fitted today (November 18th).

“The delay was caused by us having to commission new health and safety works to ensure we could carry out the works safely, and a stop-cock that had ceased solid also needed to be repaired.

“We apologise for any distress caused in the meantime.

“We will consider the request for compensation once the situation has been resolved.

“Ensuring our council homes are safe and well-maintained for all our tenants is a top priority for Lambeth Council and we have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in the drive to bring all of them up to the Lambeth Housing Standard (LHS).

“We have also concentrated on making improvements to day-to-day repairs and maintenance, including assigning 10 new firms and a brand new in-house repairs team to the task since this summer.

“These improvements demonstrate our determination to provide a better service to tenants.

“We’re committed to continuing these improvements, and acting quickly to resolve problems when they are brought to our attention.”

Pictured top: Rachel Grant and her son Caleb Barrett-Grant

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