Elaine Madden, who lives in Gregg House in Gregg Street, has been appealing to the Housing Executive to move her from the flat but was told she could not be added to the transfer list as she had lived in her current flat for less than two years.
“I have a lot of health problems, including osteoarthritis spondylosis, degenerative discs in my spine and I had an operation last year to remove two discs,” she explained. “I have also suffered from severe depression since I was 18. The state of the flat is really getting me down and I don’t want to go down that road again.
“I am sleeping on a mattress on the floor of my living room. The flat looks like a squat and I am ashamed to let anyone in.”
Ms Madden’s doctor, as well as her Community Psychiatric Nurse and her son, wrote letters to the Housing Executive, asking them to give special consideration to her as a result of her health.
Eventually Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson stepped in to try to help Ms Madden with her housing problems.
“I have spoken with Elaine and must say that I am concerned for her wellbeing,” said Mr Donaldson. “This lady has multiple and complex health problems and the damp in her home is exacerbating her medical condition. Elaine has been sleeping on a mattress or the sofa in her living room and this cannot be good for her. She also needs the support of a carer and this being a one bedroom house, there is nowhere for them to sleep.
“For all of these reasons, Elaine needs an urgent transfer to more suitable accommodation,” continued Mr Donaldson. “I recognise that the Housing Executive have a rule about not being able to transfer within two years of taking up a tenancy and this is for good reason. However, the rule does allow for some discretion in exceptional circumstances and I believe such circumstances exist in Elaine’s case.
“We are therefore raising this on humanitarian grounds with the management of the Housing Executive and supporting Elaine in her request for an urgent transfer.”
A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said they had agreed to waive the transfer regulation and allow Ms Madden access to the transfer list,
“Following a leak into the bedroom of this property part of the plaster was saturated and had to removed,” they explained. “A dehumidifier was left with the tenant to assist with the drying out of the wall prior to it being re-plastered. A member of staff called at the property on March 27 and it appeared that the wall was drying out well and the bedroom was habitable. At that time the tenant advised that there were silver fish under the dividing wall between the bathroom and hall. The maintenance officer called on April 3 and is arranging for the wall to be re-plastered during the week commencing April 8. Although dealing with silver fish is the tenant’s responsibility it has been agreed that treatment will be carried out.
“When Miss Madden applied for a transfer there didn’t appear to be exceptional circumstances to waive the two year tenancy period, however, following receipt of further medical information this is being waived and Miss Madden allowed access to the transfer list,” the spokesperson concluded.