Labour’s Heworth ward councillors have welcomed the awarding of a new contract to work on addressing damp problems in council homes, but urge the City of York Council that it should prioritise the Bell Farm estate. A number of council homes there have been beset by damp problems arising from poorly drained clay soil, which has resulted in standing water in voids below ground floor floorboards in many homes.
Councillors say the problems have existed for years and that Bell Farm should be at the top of the list when it comes to making council homes habitable for their tenants.
The council’s housing stock has been in decline in recent years as the council’s ‘Tenant’s Choice’ modernisation programme ground to a halt, with the number of non-decent homes increasing during the previous Lib-Dem/Tory administration, from zero in 2015 to over 546 in 2017-18.
Councillor Claire Douglas said: “The problems affecting many homes on the estate are really pretty horrific and not ones anyone should be expected to live with. Standing water in the voids has led to mould growing up internal walls, moulding carpets and furniture, slugs appearing in numbers and rotting food in cupboards.
“It has also resulted in damage to personal property that many simply cannot afford to replace. But the main problem is the health implications of damp, with many suffering serious breathing and lung problems.
“I’m afraid the number of homes in Bell Farm and across Heworth ward that don’t reach an acceptable standard according to the recent stock condition survey is totally unacceptable”.
Council officials confirmed around two years ago that the previous contractor had its contract ended due to a poor standard of work, and it is only now that a new contract has finally been awarded. In the meantime, many homes have got worse for their unfortunate tenants.
Heworth councillor Anna Perrett also commented on the situation: “Basic housing standards are a human right and the Liberal Democrats who presided over this decline should hang their heads in shame at the standard of some of the homes council tenants have been expected to live in. They need to ask themselves whether or not they’d be happy to live in such conditions.
“Residents in Bell Farm and elsewhere in Heworth ward have not had the service they deserve, and this extends to issues with asbestos and the absence of electrical safety certificates in some cases.
“The worst-case properties must be a priority for improvement works now the council has awarded a contract. It’s the least tenants can expect in the circumstances”.