“I just feel like I’m at my breaking point now. I just need help to get out of this situation.” 

These words echo the desperation of a mother from Bromley who finds herself on the brink of collapse. In her plea for assistance, she seeks a way out of the dire circumstances she currently faces.

Sarah Jayne Holland, a survivor of domestic violence, was relocated to a four-bedroom house on Walden Road in Chislehurst along with her two children a decade ago. Despite the property being relatively new and situated within a private development, Sarah’s attempts to address numerous significant maintenance problems with London & Quadrant (L&Q), the housing association responsible for the property, have yielded little resolution from the outset.

“From when I moved in, I was complaining that the house was very cold all the time and it felt damp,” she claimed. “Then the garden, I’d bought the kids a 15ft trampoline and then the garden sunk. So they then had to come and redo all the garden.”

Sarah went on to say that matters then only grew worse. She said: “Three years later, I kept complaining that the pressure on the boiler was dropping.

“It was found that when the house was built, they’d actually gone through the main cold water pipe with a drill and there’d been a hole for five years that had been leaking. Obviously a house can only soak up so much water and then the boiler exploded.”

Sarah says she began to notice issues with cold and damp as soon as she moved into the property

It was around this time that Sarah claims she first had her health impacted by the property. She explained: “When I was cleaning up all the water when the boiler exploded, I ended up in hospital and I had to have my ovary removed because it had twisted.”

Shortly thereafter, a legal battle unfolded between Sarah and L&Q, leading to a court case where she claims a court order was issued in 2018, mandating L&Q to address all pending repairs in the property. Regrettably, despite L&Q’s affirmation that the necessary work was completed in 2019, Sarah finds herself grappling with persistent problems of disrepair in her residence. These issues have reached a critical point, compelling her to vacate the premises and seek temporary accommodation at a Travelodge in Sidcup, accompanied by her children and two pets.

Sarah says issues with the property have brought her to her 'breaking point'

She said: “Two weeks ago, they came around with a drainage team and they moved me out within 24 hours because under the property, something’s bust. The camera’s that went down the other day have found something so severe and they got a dampness reading of 999 so they’ve moved me out and I’m not allowed back in my house.

“I just feel like I’m at my breaking point now. Where I’m staying now, it’s like a halfway house, it’s actually disgusting. I’ve got no cooking facilities for my children inside this hotel, there’s no fridge I can’t do washing.”

Sarah says that a recent dampness measure recorded 999 in part of the property before she and her children had to leave.

She went on to discuss the health issues that her 16 year-old son and 13 year-old daughter are currently facing. “My little boy’s been diagnosed with lupus and my little girl’s got a hole in her heart.

“The past six weeks, she is really suffering. When they diagnosed him a few weeks ago, it was a lot, a child at 16 should not be diagnosed with Lupus but the conditions he’s living in have obviously raised it and brought it on a lot quicker – I feel like a failure as a mum.

Sarah and her two children and now living in a Travelodge due to an ongoing 'severe' issue at the home.

“Now I’ve got COPD, I’ve got fibromyalgia, I’ve got rheumatoid arthritis and I was at the hospital recently because my CA 125 levels are sky high again.” Potential temporary replacement accommodation has been found in the form of a two bedroom apartment in the same private development, but Sarah has reservations.

She said: “Physically, I haven’t got it in me to pack my house up and move all my stuff into that other flat. It’s unfurnished, in my house, all the washing machine, cooker and everything is built in.

Sarah said: "Physically, I haven’t got it in me to pack my house up"

“I feel like I shouldn’t have to be putting myself out there, in the public, in the nation, just to get what we deserve, what should’ve been done years ago. I just need help to get out of this situation, stuck in this hotel with my children.”

Sharon Burns, Director of Housing Management at L&Q said, “We’re sorry that we haven’t been able to fix the issues in Ms Holland’s home satisfactorily, and recognise it has taken too long to resolve this situation. We’ve arranged for a contractor to start a programme of works to fix the pipework.

“Unfortunately due to the intrusive nature of the works, it isn’t possible for Ms Holland to remain in her home whilst we carry out the works around her. We’ve offered the family a temporary home nearby so they can stay in the area. We are in regular contact with Ms Holland and will ensure she is supported throughout this time.”