A Taunton couple have been “forced out” of their flat after two years because a hole that took ten months to fix has returned in time for Christmas.

Helen, 24, and Cameron Wood, 24, of Waterside Court, Abbey Close, Taunton, informed LiveWest housing association of a leak in their bedroom ceiling in November 2018. The hole was fixed in August 2019, ten months after the problem was reported.

However, the leak continued in September 2019, and the ceiling is more damaged than before, with serious patches of mould.

Mrs Wood said: “We have been forced out of our home because we don’t want to wait another ten months for it to be fixed again. We do love this place, we wouldn’t have stuck it out for another year if we didn’t.

“We had to have last Christmas with the hole and no one did anything about it. It was leaking and dripping constantly.

“It has been causing us financial worry because we don’t know how much extra we have spent on heating, phone calls, electricity and so on.”

Somerset County Gazette:

The couple chose the flat as the Help to Buy Affordable Rent Scheme would help them to buy a house.

But since November of last year, they have had to use extra heating to keep the flat warm.

LiveWest gave the pair a dehumidifier to combat the mould, but Mr and Mrs Wood were told they would not be compensated for the extra cost of electricity for the dehumidifier until after the hole was fixed, so they decided to stop using it.

Another unexpected cost was calling LiveWest. As Mr and Mrs Wood’s emails were not getting replies, the pair had to call the housing association, but this incurred a cost, which Mrs Wood said was roughly £4-5 per month.

The couple claimed LiveWest refused to repay the money for their phone calls but did cover the cost of using the dehumidifier.

After the ceiling was fixed in August this year, LiveWest agreed to give Mr and Mrs Wood £520 in compensation, repaying them 10 per cent rent for a period of the 291 days it took to fix the hole.

This also included £15.80 for the electrical costs of the dehumidifier and a £25 missed appointment fee. Mr Wood had taken three days off work, but only two were needed to fix the hole.

LiveWest’s director of neighbourhoods, James Reseigh, said: "We are sorry for the disruption caused to Mrs Wood and we are continuing to work hard to ensure these issues are resolved.

“Because the property is less than 10 years old, an insurance claim is being processed by the National House-Building Council in conjunction with the developer Midas who have completed a thorough investigation of this scheme.

“Further tests are currently being carried out to try and get to the bottom of the issue.”

This month Helen and Cameron are moving into a privately rented property, as the hole has still not been fixed since September and they don’t want to spend another Christmas in a cold and damp flat.

Somerset County Gazette:

Mr Wood said he recently received a call from a letting agent asking to show prospective tenants around the property. He explained to the letting agent that the hole had still not been fixed.

Mr Reseigh added: “While we don’t have control over the time frame for completing the works, we have regularly kept in touch with Mrs Wood and provided help and financial support.

“We always try our hardest to put right any repairs for customers living in our homes and only re-let them in a suitable condition.

“In the meantime, we will continue to offer support for Mrs Wood and are proactively looking for a resolution through the NHBC insurance process.”