Council Spends £140,000 During Six Year Repair Saga

Family says constant relocation left them unable to grieve for grandmother

Sue Roberts said she and her family 'just want a job done well' so they can settle in their home
Sue Roberts said she and her family 'just want a job done well' so they can settle in their home

March 11, 2024

A 69-year-old woman who has been relocated from her Fulham council home twice said the building has ‘never felt like home’, with repairs continuing six years after moving in. Sue Roberts told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) the lack of stability has meant she and her family have been unable to grieve for her mother, who died in one of the homes they were decanted to, “because we’re constantly moving with boxes around and around”.

A spokesperson for Hammersmith and Fulham Council said the local authority has spent approximately £140,000 “to ensure we were providing a safe, decent and warm home of the highest quality”, following ‘decades’ of underinvestment in the property and substantial structural issues.

Ms Roberts, her son and three grandchildren moved into their Fulham home in 2018, though problems including leaks and cracked ceilings soon became apparent. They were first moved by the council in 2021 into a property Ms Roberts said was cramped and also suffering from damp. It was in this flat in early 2022 that Ms Roberts’ mother, Winnifred ‘Winnie’ Wilson, who was suffering with cancer and had been living with them, passed away at the age of 91.

Ms Roberts told the LDRS at the time she was heartbroken her mother died away from her own home. “It’s three-and-a-half years too late and five months too late for mum,” she said. “They go around saying things but doing nothing. It’s like groundhog day.”

The family moved back into their home in March 2022, though had to leave again in the July after the council said more repairs needed completing. This new property also suffered from damp, with pictures showing mould spores beginning to grow.

The council apologised for the inconvenience, and said the works to renovate and refurbish Ms Roberts’ home should be complete by early 2023.

When the family moved back into their home in August last year, Ms Roberts said she soon became aware of new problems with the property. These included a hole in the brickwork to the back of the house, and damage to areas including a step at the building’s entrance and piping.

Scaffolding outside Sue Roberts' house
Scaffolding outside Sue Roberts' house

She said workers had also damaged some of her personal items, the most distressing of which was a beloved family sideboard. Spotted while visiting the property prior to moving back in, Ms Roberts said she found it dumped, with a frame holding a mirror broken and the glass inside it smashed.

“They threw it on a pile in that garden. Had I not come round that day, somebody would have collected their rubbish…why? Who do they think they are?

“I actually screamed that day, the neighbours heard me screaming. What if I hadn’t gone there?”

This has had to be repaired by a specialist, paid by the council. A Hammersmith and Fulham spokesperson said a sofa and curtain rails previously damaged were also replaced.

When the LDRS visited, scaffolding had been erected around the outside of the property. While much of the work indoors had been completed, there remained some examples of the damage Ms Roberts had referenced, such as chips to the front door step and to some of the brickwork.

She said, “The stress, your head. Can you imagine moving out, moving in. In between we’ve lost mum. We haven’t even had time to grieve for mum, because we’re constantly moving with boxes around and around. Would you not think in August last year, we’d walk into a pristine finished home? No, not at all. I’m still here. There’s other people like me out there as well, and they’re not getting heard.”

Ms Roberts added the issue has been compounded by the changing cast of builders and contractors working on her home. The result, she said, has been a ‘lack of respect’ for the property. “We don’t want gold taps, we just want a job done well so it lasts a number of years. This has lasted what? I have been here since August.”

Ms Roberts said since the issues began in 2018, “we’ve never felt at home. You know what, I’m a really tidy person. I like things where they live. All my children would say that. And you can see. It’s near constant.”

“The whole thing has cost me my health,” she added. “We have had six years of hell. We have lost mum. How much more is going to go on?”

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said, “Substantial work was required to renovate this spacious four-bedroom period Victorian property in Fulham before Ms Roberts moved back in last summer. The property suffered from decades of under investment in it and some substantial structural issues.

“The council spent approximately £140,000 to ensure we were providing a safe, decent and warm home of the highest quality. We recognise that this work took longer than it should have, and we apologised and compensated Ms Roberts for this at the time. A few further repair issues with this old property have been identified by Ms Roberts. We apologise for these issues and we are working with our contractor to quickly and effectively resolve them. A repair works schedule has been agreed with Ms Roberts and works are due to start next week.”


Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter