Muhammad Haque pointing to the damage in his parents home Credit: Ruby Gregory
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Dangerous leaks force Brick Lane families to move out over Christmas

‘The whole company just feels dysfunctional’: Families complain to Tower Hamlets Community Housing after leak forces them out of flats over Christmas.

Families were forced to temporarily move out of their flats near Brick Lane over Christmas after a leak infiltrated their homes and left them worried about their safety.

A number of flats at Vollasky House near Brick Lane were damaged by a leak believed to be coming from the roof which deteriorated on Christmas Eve (December 24) with large lumps of water forming in ceilings.

Gaz Rahman, a leaseholder at Vollasky House, said he has been complaining to his housing association Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH) for ‘decades’ and claimed last month’s leak is the latest ordeal for residents living in the block.

He said: ‘For decades I’ve been fighting. It’s been getting worse and worse and worse.

‘A lot of people are suffering, they’re suffering in silence because they can’t get their word out. I Imagine other THCH residents are suffering.’

When the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) got in touch with THCH, a spokesperson said leaks affecting two of the flats have been fixed through remedial works but they are working on a comprehensive repair programme which they said was weather-dependent.

They said: ‘We are aware of the ongoing concerns regarding the roof at Vollasky House and are actively working on a long-term solution.

‘Our team has identified that the current state of the roof, due to its age, requires a more robust approach. A comprehensive repair programme is being developed, with work expected to commence in the next few weeks, weather permitting.’

Mr Rahman, who rents out his flat, said he went to check on the flat over Christmas after his neighbours told them leaks were causing havoc in their own properties.

He said: ‘When I went in there, there was a massive lump [in my ceiling] so I had to make a hole to leak the water out and as soon as I made a hole, everything went down.’

Mr Rahman says he is worried someone will ‘end up in hospital’ because it’s a health and safety hazard.

He said: ‘[The leak] has got nothing to do with me, in my lease it clearly says anything from the ceiling, anything from outside is [THCH’s] problem, because all of the leaks are from [outside my flat].

‘What the hell are [THCH] doing? Every single flat has been affected and there’s a lot of people suffering.’

He went on to that say THCH has increased service charges over the years but claimed ‘clearly, there is no service’.

Mr Rahman claims he knows of at least two families who moved out to temporarily live with their sons as they are elderly and have been afraid of the leaks.

THCH told the LDRS that most of the families have ‘safely returned’ home however resident Muhammad Haque says his elderly parents are still staying with him because he claims their home is still unsafe.

Mr Haque said: ‘On Christmas Eve going into Christmas Day, there was a massive leak. It started leaking down the thermostat which caused the boiler to stop working.

‘There’s a lot of damage to the property. There’s bubbles in the living room [ceilings]. We’ve noticed over the past few weeks bubbles are appearing and the lights start to flicker.’

He added: ‘The doors [in the flat] are moist and are expanding, there are leaks coming down the walls on the outside as well as the inside.’

Peter Mengerink, a THCH resident and campaigner living in another building in the borough, said: ‘Services are performed really poorly, the whole line of management from the worker to the people in charge is just non-existent.

‘It’s so hard to describe because the whole company just feels dysfunctional and almost like they’ve given up.’

When the LDRS got in touch with THCH, a spokesperson said an investigation has been carried out and they are addressing remedial works on each of the affected flats.

They added: ‘We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused by the leaks at Vollasky House and understand Mr Rahman’s frustration.

‘All affected residents were provided with alternative accommodation while any necessary works took place.’

They added: ‘We remain dedicated to maintaining a safe and comfortable living environment for all residents at Vollasky House.

‘We appreciate the patience and cooperation of our residents as we work towards resolving these issues.’

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