Photo by Gabrielle Henderson

A Londoner who has battled chronic arthritis most her life, has successfully sued her landlord after enduring years of living in a damp ridden ‘prison house.’

Lorna Martin’s three-bed semi-detached property was riddled with problems including a dangerous hole in the shower which caused her to trip and bang her head.

Traumatised by the incident in August last year, the 54-year-old from Lewisham lay bleeding on the floor and initially feared she may be paralysed, until her daughter rushed her to hospital where she required 15 stitches.

The wound was so severe that the bone was visible and had to be glued back together, which is still causing her sleepiness nights.

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Other issues with the London & Quadrant managed property included her living room ceiling being plagued by persistent damp, wall cracks, cupboards off their hinges, broken radiators and drafty doors.

The mother of two also had to improvise fixes with shoelaces to keep her windows functional.

Lorna’s accident was a turning point in her battle for better living conditions prompting her to instruct Manchester firm, Veritas Solicitors, to fight her case against the housing association which recently settled for £1,000 plus repairs.

“It was very scary,” she said. “I felt myself falling but couldn’t do anything to stop it. My main worry was snapping my neck.

“I thought I was paralysed and just felt blood gushing from my head. I was in shock. Luckily my daughter was around otherwise who knows what could have happened.

“All I’ve ever wanted is a safe place to live. But it’s bad when the property is more disabled than the person living there. It’s like a prison.”

Lorna was widowed at the age of 30 leaving her to raise two children alone.

Due to her pre-existing arthritis, her mobility was already limited, and the head injury added to her challenges.

She struggles to turn her head, and her elbows are stuck at 90-degree angles, preventing her from performing simple tasks like brushing hair.

Lorna has expressed her disappointment with the housing association’s “slow and subpar repairs”, which she says include a crooked bathroom sink, loose door handles and mismatched bathroom tiles.

She added: “They decided to do all the repairs in one go, but they’ve still not finished. For one week I couldn’t even have a shower as there was no water.

“The house is embarrassing and even though they’ve levelled the hole where I tripped, I still find myself walking around it because I’ve been used to that for many years.

“A while ago, my home lift stopped working while I was inside, so I was trapped until the morning when my kids saw me.

“I’ve probably called the housing association more than 100 times and spend an hour at a time to try and get through to someone.

“My husband passed away in 1999 but up until recently I was still getting letters addressed to him. It is quite traumatic and brings everything back for me, which I’ve told them many times. I just want to leave this place now, there’s too much pain here.”

Amidst her struggles, Lorna found hope and support when she reached out to Veritas Solicitors and the firm is also handling an ongoing personal injury case resulting from the fall.

As Lorna continues her fight for justice, she hopes her ordeal will raise awareness and inspire positive changes in the housing system for disabled individuals.

Chris Waring, the fee earner from Veritas Solicitors who ran Lorna’s case, said: “This settlement is a testament to Lorna’s unwavering determination to seek justice for the neglect she faced and the harrowing incident that led to her severe head injury.

“It not only acknowledges the pain and suffering Lorna experienced but also highlights the pressing need for better housing conditions for disabled individuals and her journey serves as a powerful reminder that every person deserves a safe and dignified living environment.”

David Lewis, Executive Group Director of Property Services at L&Q, said: “We’re sorry that repairs to Ms Martin’s home have taken longer than we would have expected. Whilst we cannot comment on legal disrepair cases in detail, a surveyor visited and produced a detailed report of works required at the time. The safety and wellbeing of our residents is a top priority, and we will be visiting Ms Martin’s home again today (Wednesday) to carry out further inspections and agree the snagging repairs. A specialist windows contractor is attending in the first week of August to assess the repairs required to the window handles and to confirm when the works will be completed.”

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