Housing association residents compensated ‘insulting’ £25 after weeks of broken lift

Lambeth residents who went six weeks without a working lift have been offered £25 in compensation by their housing association. 

The lift in Gwynne House on St Martin’s Estate in Lambeth, was broken from 18 October to 17 December last year, causing distress and practical difficulties for residents. 

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham, campaigned with residents and said the amount of compensation being offered by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) is “insulting”. 

Ribeiro-Addy said: “Last Thursday, I was informed they’ve [MTVH] now written to everyone at Gwynne House agreeing to pay out compensation for the unreliability and the period of time the lift was out of service.

“Then I found out that some residents have been offered an insulting £25 for the inconvenience.” 

Florence Ogunbor, a Gwynne House resident for 20 years, has osteoarthritis and is asthmatic.

She said: “Rather than going food shopping, I would eat out, which was really expensive for me, because I didn’t know how I would take the shopping up the stairs.

“It was a struggle during that period, it was like a punishment.”

Kelly Formosa lives on the second floor of Gwynne House with her partner and daughter.

Formosa said: “We’ve got a disabled child here who has got limited mobility and has an issue with her spine and legs where she falls over a lot, so we had to hold onto her while she was going up and down the stairs.” 

She added: “My partner had two organs removed, so going up and down the stairs was hard for him as well.”

Other residents struggled to carry heavy items to and from flats or could not have guests visit. 

Residents claimed the involvement of an MP helped the campaign after initially not getting a response from MTVH. 

Ogunbor said: “We were calling and calling, but immediately when we joined together to report it to the MP they came and replaced it before Christmas.”

St Martin’s Residents Association campaigned for group compensation after MTVH said Gwynne House tenants had to request compensation on a case-by-case basis, raising concerns that this would cause some residents to miss out.

Ribeiro-Addy supported the campaign and asked residents to fill in a form setting out the issues they experienced as a result of the lift being out of action which was sent to MTVH.

She said: “Getting tenants to organise and stand up for themselves is an important part of improving the quantity and quality of social housing in the UK.

“It’s absolutely vital that we tip the scales back towards people living in homes and away from the people who make money off owning homes.”

A spokesperson for MTVH said: “We’ve written to everyone at Gwynne House this week affected by the lift problems with an offer of compensation.  

“This is in line with our usual practice where we make an offer to everyone at the same time. To be clear, we don’t require people to come forward on an individual basis. 

“Unfortunately, the advice recently given by a member of our team was incorrect. We’re happy to set the record straight here. 

“We’re in touch with both the residents’ association and Bell Ribiero-Addy MP and are grateful for their continued support.”

The spokesperson added that the delay in fixing the lift was due to supply issues out of their control.

Residents at Williams House, another MTVH property, were compensated £250 after their lift was out of action for six months.

MTVH maintains that the £25 offered to Gwynne House residents is consistent with its agreed approach to compensating residents for loss of services.

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