Social landlord forced to apologise after leaving family without heating



A social landlord in Stoke has hit the headlines for the wrong reason after leaving a family of three without heating for 12 days.

After a gas leak was discovered the heating was switched off on April 1, and the landlord Your Housing Group failed to resolve the issue for nearly two weeks.

Mum-of-two Donna Marsh said she had just completed a £265 shop, which included chicken and meat, the night before the leak was discovered.

She was unable to cook and ended up sending her ‘crying’ children – aged six and nine – to live at her mother’s house.

Marsh told StokeonTrentLive: “I had a gas safety inspection and they said I had a gas leak and that you could see straight through the pipe. The gas inspection people came out and said I’m lucky I didn’t blow up my house because I smoke there and my fridge/freezer is in there where the leak was and it’s got that spark. They told me that because I am on a priorities list for gas and electric, I was on a 24 hour callout.

“But that went by and nobody came. Then Monday [April 4] came and nobody had been in contact or done anything. I was fuming, they had promised me somebody would be out. On the 5th I raised a complaint with Your Housing and they logged it. I asked if they could phone me to make me aware that they were coming because I’ve got nobody in the area.

Donna Marsh 

“My mum has just moved up so the children have gone there. I had to explain to my children – while they were crying and wearing coats – why it was so cold.

“On April 7 somebody turned up at my house. I didn’t know somebody was coming out and I was with my friend for safety measures, I explained the situation to them. He went back to the company and said there was no access and they closed the claim down.”

Your Housing Group has apologised to Marsh, saying the error was caused by an engineer.

A spokesman said to StokeonTrentLive: “The gas installation was isolated after the annual gas service on April 1. At this point, Miss Marsh was offered temporary heating, which she declined. Unfortunately, due to an error by the engineer, a follow-on job was not raised as it should have been, which led to the delay. We have offered Miss Marsh our sincere apologies and financial compensation for the delay and inconvenience.

“An appointment was made with Miss Marsh for April 12 when the repairs were completed, and heating and hot water restored. Our compliance operations manager contacted Miss Marsh on the morning of April 12 to ensure her that the work was a priority and the appointment that day would be kept. The contract manager for the gas contractor also attended the property on April 12 to make a formal apology. Your Housing Group is working closely with the gas contractor to ensure there is no repeat of this type of failure.”

Marsh added that she has a housing repair issue dragging on from two years ago.

She said the previous tenant sawed half a chimney away to try to fit a bed upstairs in the loft, resulting on the cavity being exposed.

This means the loft is saturated with water when it rains, as Marsh added that it’s warmer outside than in the house.

The social landlord has committed to making repairs in May.

Marsh added: “I had extra expenses. I spent all of my benefits which is why the children were at my mum’s. I’d got no more money to look after them. The dishes are still all stacked up and I couldn’t do anything. My physical and mental health is not very good.

“I should not be without gas and hot water. I pay my rent every month. It felt like it was my fault because when you try to explain to your children, you feel like a failure when you’ve only got microwave meals and Pot Noodles. They went to my mum’s crying.

“The children have been very upset, they have been through a lot and it’s hard on them. I want action. I’ve still got the repairs to be done. I’ve booked them in and they are scheduled for the end of May and I want them to stick to that timeframe. It’s been going on for two years.”

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