Families who’ve ended up in an apartment block in east London have described the grim conditions they’re being forced to live in.
The cramped residents of Marlin Apartments are surrounded by cockroaches, rats, mice and bugs that are thriving despite regular visits from pest control. In one case, a family of four sleeps in one room, with two on the bed and two others on the floor with just a thin mattress for support.
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Sabbir Ripon says his one-bed flat is like an “animal cage”. Sabbir, his wife and their two kids ended up in Marlin Apartments last year after their private landlord kicked them out of the four-bed home they had been renting.
He said: “The space here is very small, the children shouldn't live in such conditions. It's like a cage, it’s like an animal cage – it’s not a liveable property.”
Carmen Goss says she was meant to be staying at Marlin Apartments for eight weeks but she's now been there for more than two years. “These cockroaches are crazy because they climb, they climb on everything,” she said. "I was spraying my whole bathroom and kitchen with tea-tree and peppermint oil – I was spraying everywhere. They used to get in the fridge, they were everywhere. It was horrible.”
And Sonia Augusteen, who shares a two-bed flat with her husband and two sons, 14 and 6, says she’s continually washing the bedding in a futile attempt to get rid of disgusting animals.
“[My children] won't wake up in the morning because when the lights are off the bedbugs are biting them, and all night they are just itching so they can’t sleep peacefully.”
The entire property in Stratford is used as temporary accommodation by the local council, but residents say it's far from “temporary” and some have been there for nearly four years. Newham Council admits it’s experiencing a “crisis in temporary accommodation”, which has got worse thanks to the pandemic and cost-of-living pressure.
Syed Abbas is staying in a two-bed flat with his pregnant wife and their three children. He says he is willing to move anywhere.
“We’re not demanding anything, we just need a house where we can live easily, where our kids can play."
Mum-of-five Nakisha Baah, another resident, said: “There’s lots of bedbugs, roaches and rats. We have an open-plan kitchen and the sofa can convert into a bed, but with all the mice running around the kids are scared so it's very tight for sleeping. It’s a filthy place to live in.”
When mum-of-three Giorgia Lannone tries to go to sleep, she’s kept awake by mice scuttling around her kitchen, and she’s built up an entire collection of photos she’s taken of mice and cockroaches caught in the traps she’s set.
“The reason mice are coming in is because the walls are broken under the appliances,” she said.
A council spokesperson said: “The council is aware of the pest-control issue that can occur in multi-occupancy blocks like Marlin Apartments. An in-house contractor, London Network for Pest Solutions, has been providing a weekly inspection and treatment service at the property since July 2021.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service spent almost a month investigating the families' cases for MyLondon.
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