A grandmother is feeling ‘stressed and anxious’ after being left stranded in her eighth floor flat for more than two months because the lift in her housing association building is broken. She claims to have missed 14 doctors appointments during this time and wasn’t able to see her granddaughter on Christmas Day.
The lift at Bigler Court in Wembley has been broken since November. Geeta Patel, 59, who is disabled and has mobility issues, claims she has been complaining to the housing association L&Q about the problem for two months and has been unable to leave her flat during this time.
Geeta originally reported the issue in November because the lift wasn’t working when she returned from a Diwali family dinner, meaning it took her 45 minutes to get up the stairs to her flat. The grandmother to two granddaughters said she has ‘gone past boiling point’ and claims the experience of being confined to her flat has badly affected her mental health.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Geeta said: “I feel like I’m losing the battle now. Being on the eighth floor is not easy for me. I can’t go and see my family and being stuck inside 24/7 is not good for me mentally.”
She added: “They are taking the piss. Over these two and a half months I’ve had to cancel or reschedule 14 hospital appointments that I have been waiting for. Once they rebook you three times, the fourth time they send you back to your GP. It took ages to get these appointments and now it’s going to prolong the help I need for my health.”
During this time, Geeta has also been unable to visit her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia, in a nearby care home. She usually pays her a visit two or three times a week but has only been able to see her twice since November. Geeta said: “She is deteriorating, which obviously affects me too.”
She added: “The kids couldn’t spend Christmas or New Year with me either. To top it off it’s my 60th birthday tomorrow (January 18) and I wanted to celebrate it with the family, but I can’t even do that now.”
Geeta explained that the lift was also broken last year and had taken ages to fix. L&Q told her that they were waiting for a part to be delivered before the work could be completed. The lift has worked periodically throughout the year but not at all since November, according to Geeta.
The local councillor for Geeta’s ward, Cllr Anton Georgiou, called the ongoing and recurring issues ‘frankly ridiculous’ and is ‘appalled’ that vulnerable residents have had to endure weeks without a working lift.
He said: “L&Q have a lot to answer for here. Housing Associations have a duty of care towards their residents. In this instance they have failed to satisfy the bare minimum expected. Ensuring all residents have equal access to come and go from their own home.”
He added: “The failed attempts to resolve this matter, meaning that the lift is still out of order to this day, means L&Q are breaching equalities legislation by not ensuring disabled people and those unable to use stairs, have full access in a building that they manage.”
Geeta was told by the housing association that a part had to be ordered but told the LDRS that they said the same thing last year when a similar issue occurred. Geeta doesn’t believe that work was ever properly completed and has made the lift even worse.
She added: “I just want to get out of this place, I’ve been waiting for a transfer for five years. I want to downsize from a three-bed to a two-bed and be on either the ground or first floor because of my disability. They just tell me they don’t have any available.”
Director of the L&Q Foundation, Matt Corbett, said: “We’re sorry that repairs to the lift at Bigler Court have taken longer than we would like: this was due to the complex nature of the repairs needed and difficulty in sourcing parts. An engineer is scheduled to be on site tomorrow (12 January) to complete the repairs.” [According to Geeta this did not happen]
He added: “Our team has been in regular contact with Ms Patel to offer her support and to help with any issues until the lift is back in operation. We have written to all residents to apologise for the delay and a further letter with an update is being sent (11 January).
“Our rehousing team is in ongoing discussions with Ms Patel about her request for a move, which is proving difficult due to a lack of suitable properties in Brent, however we will remain in touch to offer advice and practical support.”
Cllr Georgiou called L&Q’s response ‘lacklustre’ and questioned why it takes so long to fix a recurring issue. He said: “I have tried to apply as much pressure as possible on the organisation, but it is clear to me that this now needs to be dealt with by senior management urgently and thereafter for residents to be fully and fairly compensated for the ordeal they have been through.”
Cabinet Member for Housing, Homelessness and Renters’ Security, Cllr Promise Knight, said: “We weren’t aware of Ms Patel’s situation at Bigler Court and we are very sorry to learn that she has been unable to leave her home because of the lift’s breakdown and delayed repair.”
She added: “We understand that Ms Patel’s housing association, L&Q Foundation, is in contact with her. Ms Patel is also welcome to contact the council for further support with her needs at any time.”