Worthing woman 'left to rot' at council flat in Bognor Regis - 'I've been treated in the most appalling manner'
“I am appalled that residents in the town are being forced to accept properties in this state — quite simply this is unacceptable and those concerned should be ashamed."
Those were the words of Arun district councillor Matt Stanley after a resident in temporary housing in Bognor Regis complained of wide-ranging issues, including an 'overwhelming smell of faeces and urine'.
Theresa Carey lives at a flat on Tennyson Road. She was moved there by Adur and Worthing Council after losing her permanent accommodation in Worthing during the pandemic.
With nowhere else to live, she was placed in an 'awful place' in Bognor five months ago.
Ms Carey praised staff at Arun District Council (ADC), who she said had been very supportive, but said she had been ‘treated like a nobody’ by Adur and Worthing.
Ms Carey said the ceiling has leaked three times, with human excrement and urine visible.
"I am disgusted," she said. "The smell of faeces and urine is unbearable and I have to sleep, eat and drink in this room."
Ms Carey said that, when she first moved in, the bathroom wall was covered in bogeys, human excrement and pubic hair.
She added: "Cement had been put down the drains. The windows were super-glued locked. The shower was absolutely filthy. It stunk to high heaven. The windowsills were full of bugs and mould.
"There were bugs in my bed. There was no heating or hot water at all. The meter was smashed so I couldn't top it up.
"I had a chest infection and I'm on an inhaler. I've been treated, in my opinion, in the most appalling manner.
"In my opinion, I was just dumped here. Left to rot. I can't get anywhere else to live."
The council offered to move Ms Carey to a new temporary accommodation in Worthing but, with only 24 hours notice, it was not possible for her to make the necessary transport arrangements — she was staying with a friend in Stevenage after the third leak flooded the flat.
"I had no help with transport, no boxes to pack or anything," she said. I asked for a few more days, I just wanted a bit more time.
"They never responded to me after that."
Ms Carey said she is 'supposed to be looking for jobs' but 'most of my time is spent sorting out these issues'.
"Why are these properties not checked before they’re sent out to people?" she said. "I don’t have children. If I did, I would be back on the street.
"I'm expected to just live like this. I'm on my own and feel so vulnerable. It's affected both my mental and physical health.
"I want people to be more compassionate and have a bit more empathy.
"I know it's emergency accommodation but, surely you have a human right to have hot water and heating."
Arun District Council confirmed it was aware of this case.
A spokesperson added: "We understand that there may have been some issues when Adur and Worthing Council initially housed the resident in this property.
"We are working with the agent to ensure the dwelling is in safe habitable order.”
Adur and Worthing Council has not responded to requests for comment.
Matt Stanley, deputy leader of the opposition at Arun District Council, said: "I trust the district council are using all the resources available to them to resolve this matter at pace, as well as preventing any further situations like this happening again.
"In this day and age residents should not be exposed to living in conditions like these.
“I am deeply concerned that the tenant appears to have been prevented the opportunity of inspecting the property prior to being required to hand over their deposit.
"If this is the case we need assurances that this practice is stopped with immediate effect.”
The Nyewood Estate and Sunnydale Park Estate Residents Association said it was 'deeply concerned' if tenants are expected to hand over a deposit, prior to having the opportunity to inspect the property.
A spokesperson added: "Furthermore a member of our committee has visited the flat in question and saw various holes in the ceiling and significant staining to the carpet and furniture which seem to support the assertions of soiled water leaking into the flat that have been made by the tenant in question.
"We are here to support all the residents that we represent and will continue to do so until the resident in question is completely satisfied with their accommodation."