The footage is akin to a scene in the film Titanic. A torrent of water cascades down the stairwell.
But this is not a sinking cruise liner. It’s a block of social housing in Mitcham, south London, and it offers a depressing insight into the UK’s housing crisis.
“I think the materials just simply aren’t good enough,” campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa told Sky News.
The housing activist lives around the corner from the flooded block and filmed the deluge on his phone before posting the videos online. They form the latest chapter in his two-year-long crusade to improve the state of social housing.
Accusing developers and housing associations of cutting corners, he said: “They’re charging rent and want to maximise their income but it’s at the expense of tenants’ health and safety.
“That is what I’m seeing – it’s tenants’ health and safety. Six years on from Grenfell, that isn’t good enough.
“It should not be happening.”
Image: Kwajo Tweneboa The three-storey block in Mitcham was completed in 2017 and tenants say it’s been plagued with problems almost from the start.
Sky News has seen photos showing mushrooms growing on the ceiling of communal hallways and black mould on the walls.
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“Everyone gets the smell of the mould when they enter the building,” said Natalie, who moved into the block in January 2018.
Since 2021, she says she’s raised two complaints about damp with Southern Housing, which runs the block, but claims she’s been “ignored”.
“They’ll send someone out, or ‘put it in an email, put it in writing and we’ll get someone out there’.
“They literally just took [the mushrooms] off the wall. They haven’t actually located the problem. They took them off the wall and painted.
“They clearly don’t care.”
The flood has rendered the block temporarily uninhabitable. The 20 families affected are either living with friends or have been rehoused.
Image: Elvis Mensah-Akorah Elvis Mensah-Akorah and his family of five are being put up in a hotel. But it doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of his 20-year-old son, who is severely disabled and needs to be fed through a gastrostomy tube into his stomach. As such, he’s been forced to move into specialist care, away from his parents.
“I feel so bad and it’s unfair,” Elvis told Sky News.
“[Southern Housing] are making me suspect this is pure punishment and discriminatory.”
Southern Housing declined a request for an interview but told Sky News they were in daily contact with Mr Mensah-Akorah and will “work closely with him to understand his concerns”.
The company said the flood was caused by a faulty mains water pump which caused a spike in pressure, resulting in a burst to the communal pipes at the property.
In a statement, it added: “This isn’t an issue with the standard of the development, it’s a single component mechanical failure of a part that was six years old.
“Our contractor was on site within 30 minutes of the first reports of the leak to us and we’ve been working round the clock to resolve this repair issue. Our contractors will continue working over the weekend in order to get residents back to their homes as quickly as possible.
“We’re also investing in additional measures to ensure if this situation occurs again it will not cause damage to communal areas or individual flats.
“We’re a not for profit organisation and we’re investing millions of pounds in the safety of our buildings. We reinvest any surpluses into improving residents’ homes, neighbourhoods, services and building new homes to reduce housing need.”