Dawn Page and her daughter Jaycie (inset) have been in a hotel for 11 weeks after sewage leaks made their home uninhabitable. Images: Dawn Page
A mother and daughter will spend Christmas in a hotel after waiting almost five months for sewage leaks in their kitchen to be fixed.
Dawn Page was horrified when she saw excrement leaking from the walls of the ground-floor flat where she has lived for 22 years in Mitcham, south London, leaving her kitchen cupboards covered with flies and smelling of excrement.
The 51-year-old and her 11-year-old daughter Jaycie were forced to live with the problem for four weeks in the summer and have now spent 19 weeks living in hotels while waiting for the issue to be fixed.
Now the pair will be forced to spend the Christmas period cramped in a hotel room.
“I’ve got no love for Christmas this year, if I’m honest,” Page told The Big Issue.
“Hotels are nice but they’re still not home. It really isn’t home. I just feel like we’ll have to have a double Christmas next year.
“I just want somewhere now. Somewhere I can just put my head down and where I can close my door and have my own space and my daughter can have her own space. It’s getting too much for me now.”
Page said she first noticed the issues at the two-bedroom flat on July 5 and claimed she was told the flat was “safe to live in” after notifying the housing association landlord Clarion.
She then escalated the complaint to the environmental health department at Merton Council, which informed her of the sickening reality that left Page with no choice but to throw out all the food from her kitchen.
In an email exchange seen by The Big Issue, Page was told: “You will need to be decanted, if this issue cannot be addressed immediately. The reason being sewage waste in a kitchen is not conducive to food hygiene, contamination and safety.”
She was later moved to a hotel in August with Clarion covering the costs of her stay and her food, and has since moved to a second hotel in November.
Clarion and Page have since been involved in a dispute over work on the property with the tenant set to remain in the hotel until at least January 10.
Work to fix the leaks is currently halted as Page’s surveyor and Clarion continue to disagree with how the issue can be resolved. Page told The Big Issue it will take up to six weeks for work to be carried out but she refused access to contractors in November over fears they would plaster over the sewage-stained walls without fixing the leak.
In the meantime Clarion confirmed they have offered her another property on the same estate on a permanent basis. But Page rejected the second-floor flat as she was reluctant to give up her long-time home and said her daughter requires garden access due to her health needs.
Former carer Page said: “My daughter is autistic so she has a trampoline in the garden for stimulation. I’m not going to give that up for a second-floor flat especially as I’ve lived in my home for 22 years.
“I really do feel like they are bullying me now and I’ve got to take whatever they are telling me I’ve got to take.”
Page, who lives with a bowel problem and COPD, previously told The Big Issue the ordeal had been “draining”. She said: “The damp smell – the shit smell – that’s gonna take forever to come out. That’s not going to do me or my daughter much good. I can feel it on my chest when I’m there.
A Clarion spokesperson said: “It is important to us that Ms Page and her family have a stable housing situation.
“We have therefore offered the property on a temporary basis until the work in her home is complete and will continue to explore options.”
Kwajo Tweneboa, a social housing tenant who has turned campaigner after a three-year dispute with Clarion over the condition of his family’s own council house in Mitcham, shared footage of the pair’s kitchen on social media in October.
The 23-year-old described the home as “one of the worst I have seen” and described the situation as “literally faeces running down people’s walls” in the video.
“To say I’m shocked Dawn has been left in a hotel for Christmas would be a lie. After all it’s Clarion Housing she’s having to deal with,” said Kwajo. “I am however extremely disappointed that her Christmas has been ruined after what can only be described as a ‘year from hell’.
“It’s the reality for a lot of social housing and Clarion tenants that I’ve met. A time of year meant to be spent with family, full of enjoyment but for Dawn this won’t be the case.
“To Dawn and social housing tenants alike, I still wish you a very Merry Christmas and reassurance that change will come in 2022. Keep pushing on.”