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Landlord apologises after mum and sick son left without hot water for five days

Wales Online logo Wales Online 11/09/2021 Fahad Tariq & Nisha Mal

A mother-of-three has slammed her landlord after she was left without running hot water for five days.

Sophie Byrne's asthmatic son Jaden Richards, 3, was discharged from Royal Stoke University Hospital on Monday, August 20 after being admitted for 'breathing problems'.

Just two days after the family's boiler had to be turned off due to a leak and it took five days for it to be repaired.

The mum has since received an apology from Staffs Housing over the issue.

Speaking exclusively to Stoke on Trent Live, Sophie, 34, said: "The boiler was leaking so they came out in the night and shut it off. They said they would deal with it on the Thursday morning. But then when they came out they said they couldn’t get the part.

“I told them that there is a plumbing centre across the road from my home and to go there. But they said they could not and had to do it through their company. I got to Staffs Housing and was like 'this is ridiculous'.

“We weren't able to have a proper wash or anything. As community carers, myself and my partner are going into 20+ elderly people’s homes a day so our hygiene needs to be kept up.

“My little boy needs to be clean. Last week it had gone a bit cold. It wasn’t this warm. I had to put extra blankets on my son's bed which I shouldn’t have to do.

“He suffers badly with his chest and his breathing. He is severely asthmatic. I shouldn’t have to put up with it, I pay my bills.

“He has severe breathing problems and couldn’t keep his oxygen levels up. He also had the PVR virus which is respiratory. He stopped eating and drinking so he was on a drip and strong antibiotics.

“He still wasn’t 100 per cent when he came out of hospital. He is still on all his medication. He will be on them for the rest of his life.

“I was scared because he had not long come out of hospital and I didn’t want him picking something else up and ending up back in hospital. That’s why I thought they would see it as an emergency. They should have done things quicker.

“They can’t say leaving me for five days without hot water and heating is acceptable - because it’s not.”

The boiler broke on Wednesday, September 1 and was fixed on Monday, September 6. Staffs Housing provided two heaters.

But Sophie added: “If I'd missed a rent payment they would be quickly on my back. I’ve lost my trust in them.

“I’m happy and relieved that it has been fixed. But I shouldn’t have had to wait for five days. They should prioritise their tenants if they have got young and vulnerable children.

“If it was just me and Matt we could understand but when you have a three-year-old who has just come out of hospital you expect to be prioritised.”

Staffs Housing has launched an investigation following the delay.

Director of housing services Tim Sheail said: “On behalf of Staffs Housing and our repairs contractor, I would like to apologise to Sophie for the total time it took for us to repair her boiler and the frustration and disruption this will have caused.

"We have reviewed the incident and found that the boiler fault was treated as an emergency and inspected by our contractor outside of normal working hours to assess the problem. There was an internal leak, and the boiler was not safe to be used in this condition.

"Sophie was then visited the following day and it was established that a replacement part was needed. Unfortunately it took the contractor’s supplier longer than was acceptable to obtain the required part. We did provide temporary heating and know that Ms Byrne had the use of an electric shower. Once the part was available the contractor returned at the earliest opportunity to fix the boiler and ensured the heating and hot water was working.

"However, we fully understand that the time it took was unacceptable to Ms Byrne and her family and we will investigate how we can improve the delivery time on similar replacement parts."

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