A Lincoln woman says she is nearing breaking point, aggravated by a ceiling leak in her apartment that has gone unresolved for over a year, even though council officers have visited the property nearly 30 times. Since moving into her Trent View flat in August 2022, Louise Harris, 30, has been battling a relentless leak in her ceiling, suspected to be originating from the balcony of the unit above hers.
Despite repeatedly reporting the problem to the City of Lincoln Council, the owners of the building, she claims that minimal action has been taken to address the issue. Louise, who is a vulnerable tenant, has struggled to approach the owner of the flat above hers. On the one occasion she mustered the courage to try, she received no response.
She said: “It started off small and then my auntie noticed that it had started to spread. I don’t dare put my heating on. We have it on for an hour for when we get in the bath, but that’s it. Each time me and mum go out, even if it’s just to the shops, I just panic in case it starts raining and I’m not home.
“It’s not very helpful that it’s keeping me up most of the time. I have about four hours of sleep and then I wake up thinking it’s going to rain and start panicking. I get royally cheesed off during the day.”
Over the past year, Louise has resorted to using buckets, pots, and pans to catch the water dripping from her ceiling. In recent months, Louise’s mother has moved in with her, relocating from Brighton to be nearer to the rest of the family. For the time being, Louise has arranged a makeshift bed for her in the living room.
The 30-year-old’s situation deteriorated further when Storm Babet struck Lincolnshire on Friday, October 20. Reflecting on that day, she recounted: “It started at 12pm while I was cooking dinner for me and mum. My bed was out and I just heard this little drip, I thought I was hearing things.
“Mum turned the light on and I noticed that we actually had a leak coming through, and then it just started getting bigger.”
Upon discovering that the leak had worsened, Louise reached out to the council once again. She was reassured that someone would be sent to deal with the problem within the next 24 hours. However, no one arrived, and only a water absorbent sheet was delivered.
“The city council have had a handful of opportunities to sort it out. This has been going on for a year, but it’s got to the point where I’m about to lose it with the council.”
Throughout the past year, city councillor for the Abbey ward, Martin Christopher, has been actively involved in supporting Miss Harris with the various challenges she has encountered in her property. In the past two weeks, he paid another visit to Louise to further assess the leak in her home.
He said: “For over 14 months, I have persistently challenged the housing teams to address the issues faced by Miss Harris since her initial outreach. During my visit, I documented a lengthy list of property problems. While some were promptly resolved, the persistent leak was ignored. This inaction has now led to unnecessary suffering for a vulnerable resident.
“Sadly, this situation is not unique; it reflects a pattern of neglect within our Labour-led council. Their reluctance to proactively address repair jeopardises our resident’s well-being and the quality of available housing.”
Council officials have also visited Miss Harris to evaluate the situation. They observed a considerable accumulation of bird excrement on the balcony above, which may be the source of the leak.
After reaching out, council officials subsequently inspected Miss Harris’s property. Upon their assessment, they identified a significant build-up of bird droppings on the balcony above, suspected to be the cause of the leak.
Following this discovery, they confirmed that pest control has been alerted to address the situation. Daren Turner, Director of Housing and Investment at City of Lincoln Council, said: “I’m looking through our systems, it is clear we have attended this property almost thirty times since the tenant moved in 15 months ago.
“These visits have been to address various concerns raised by the tenant, with the most recent visit taking place last week. After addressing the majority of issues, we are left with a recurring one which relates to water entering the property from outside.
“We have tried to remedy this on two previous occasions but, unfortunately, the problem keeps reappearing and we have a further visit scheduled in the coming weeks. We are striving to find the root cause of the issue and aim to do so as soon as possible. We apologise to the tenant for the delay in identifying the issue but will continue to work towards a solution for her.”