Leaky chimney, chipped radiator and cracked walls – What life’s really like for Stoke-on-Trent tenant living in ‘damp and cold’ council house


Tenant Paul Whitehead is locked in a long-running dispute over his ‘damp and cold’ council house – after listing years of problems with the property.

The 50-year-old moved into the Smallthorne home with his wife and two children, aged 15 and 18, four years ago – and says he has been reporting issues since 2018.

These include water seeping through his daughter’s bedroom, cracks in the bedroom walls, damp in the bedrooms, loose plastering on the landing and staircase, issues with the hall floor tiles, and a rotten floorboard.

Paul said: “I’ve done nothing but chase things up to try to get them sorted. They keep saying I am in a queue but it’s causing health issues. Early last year I ended up with a lung infection.

“The house is damp and cold. It’s costing me a fortune to heat the house. I’ve got wet patches on my walls. I redecorated my bedroom last summer and all the salt and lime is coming out of the plasterwork.

Inside Paul Whitehead’s Smallthorne council house

“It took me two years to get my floor tiles sorted in my hallway – and I’ve just had that done.

“And not long after we had moved in, one of the chair legs went through the floorboard in the dining room because it was rotten underneath.

“The council’s response is shocking and nobody should have to live like that. They are quick enough to collect the rent and everything else. They own the property and should be maintaining it.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council says its repairs company – Unitas – has already ‘completed a number of repairs at the property’.

Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing, said: “We continue to be in close contact with Mr Whitehead, having already visited his property and responded to his queries on five occasions since 2019.

“This includes removing a chimney that was leaking and repairing the roof where it had been; repairing a basin that was reported to be coming loose; repairing a radiator that was reported to have a chip; re-pointing the front of the property which was reported as being lose; and replacing a lintel over the front window.

“Most recently, teams have been out to Mr Whitehead’s property in the past week to assess works to the roof, which have now been planned in, and plastering work, with Mr Whitehead confirming he will contact the team when it is convenient for the plastering to be completed.

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“Works are also scheduled to take place to the roof on Monday, January 11 and to front of the property in February.

“A recent report of a leak in the door has also been made and we will be in contact with Mr Whitehead to arrange an assessment of this.

“In response to the latest coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Unitas is working hard to ensure that emergency and urgent repairs can continue to take place indoors, and that external planned works can take place safely to ensure that residents are safe and comfortable in their homes.”

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