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Urgent Advice: Serious Housing Issue

happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
Hi Scope Community,
I recently found out my flat is infested with bedbugs. My neighbor has been suffering with them for sometime so I think it is possibly from him. I have been very ill the past five six months and the past week had nowhere safe to sleep. I am living away from the property at present having to self fund somewhere to stay. I am severely allergic to the bites and am still trying different antihistamines to see what works.

Council pest control hired by the charity supporting the accommodation, effectively my landlords ( it is a housing association flat and the ha take no responsibility for managing the property) say it will take two treatments. I cannot reenter the property until they are definitely gone and a trap has been put down after treatment to check this. 

I have been asked to bag everything and have had to buy new clothes after all my clothes after washing on a high heat were covered in the skins of the bugs. My friends in Australia booked me somewhere to stay away once we found out they were bedbugs. The charity supporting me who are supposed to provide safe accomodation for the homeless told me they did not receive funding to help me fund an emergency place to stay. All they offered was a camp bed In a communal space which is not suitable for my needs. I have a disability with my legs which prevents standing and walking for long periods of time.

I am now clear of the bugs after taking extreme precautions when moving. My whole body was covered in cuts and I put on extra weight which aggrieved the pain in my legs.

I am now having to self fund a place to stay out of my benefit. The charity are of no help and seem to expect me to manage the property alone when I am further away due to paying for accommodation and dealing with physical and mental health issues on top of the problem with my skin. I have very clearly stated to them for health reasons I cannot reenter the property until this is resolved and the place professionally cleaned.

Any advice on how to move forward with this would be greatly appreciated. This makes everything more difficult
With getting to the hospital for appointments and sorting medication. I think it bad the charity are not offering any help with alternative accommodation suitable for my needs and are not managing the property at all in my absence. They expect me to manage pest control when they are the ones that have hired them. I have had to replace everything. Thousands of the bugs came off of my skin and clothes when moved and I have been under extreme psychlogicpsy distress. The second day after being clean, I had to go in my socks to the nearest shoe shop to buy shoes because my shoes fell apart on the hot wash. I had to buy a new phone after freezing the old one to be sure it was bug free. The bugs can get into anything. it's like I've had a flood only worse.

There are still a few of my things left to bag before treatment, I have gotten rid of most things. I have said to the landlords I need Thier help to remove this. The council pest control told me someone had to stay in the property for treatment to be effective. I am not able to do this as running the risk if any bug and bug debris near me will aggravate the allergy. I spoke to various private pest control companies and they all said it made no difference whether someone stays in the property and there is no research to suggest one way or the other. All of them also said if the neighbor has them and not treated unless my flat is made airtight they will keep coming back. There are ways to treat the property which are non toxic and come with a guarantee however cost more.

I would really appreciate help here because I need a regular safe place to call home. I am noway able to manage the property and am having no hrlp to do so. Im supposed to be house hunting to move on from there but now that has been made difficult again what with a lack of accomodation and having to stay outside of the area due to cost.

Please help.

Many thanks

Replies

  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    Oh I'm truly sorry to hear this, @happy91, it sounds like you've had an awful lot to deal with on top of managing your health and I'm so sorry to hear you haven't had the assistance you need. 

    Whilst we're not experts in this area here on the community and therefore cannot offer tailored advice, we can hopefully point you in the right direction. I wonder if you've tried contacting Shelter's free helpline to see if they can help move things forward?

    0808 800 4444

    Our helpline is open every day of the year:
    • 8am - 8pm on weekdays
    • 9am - 5pm on weekends
    Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day opening hours:
    • 9am - 5pm

    I'm also tagging in @Zoe_Scope in case there's anything they can add!
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @happy91, how are you doing?
  • WestendCalWestendCal Posts: 3Member Listener
    Hi I used to work in housing and I know social landlords have a duty to provide temporary accommodatio for any tenants unable to live in their social housing home due to it being uninhabitable, there are several categories usually, and something like an infestation would be classed as one of these. Which housing association is it, you should be able to check out their policy online. You have a tenancy agreement which is a contract between you and the landlord and they have to adhere to this.
  • WestendCalWestendCal Posts: 3Member Listener
    I also suggest you immediately apply for housing again through whatever portal they have, and I suggest you get in touch with your local social services and tell them you are not managing - better still get a friend or family member to do that and say they are worried about you - and they will get someone from disability services team to come out and make an assessment which will include your living conditions, they can then approach the council with regard to the need for alternative housing, some councils will also pay deposits and fees which you would otherwise not be able to afford for a private tenancy if this is applicable.
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Hi thanks for all your advice everyone, I am sleeping on a camp bed in a communal area with the charity supporting me, it's not ideal but it seems there is no other option. I have made a complaint to the charity and I may be here longer if the issue is not solved promptly.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,124Community champion Pioneering
    @WestendCal while the property may belong to a social landlord, the tenancy may not actually be with them. A lot would actually depend on the arrangement between the freeholder and the charity, and who the tenancy is actually with. For example if the charity has a lease for the properties and the tenancy is with the charity then the HA would have no obligation towards the tenant, or general management of the properties or block.

    @happy91 I'm really sorry to hear what you are going through. Have you called Shelter, as @Pippa_Scope suggested and has this helped?

    Have  you contacted a local councillor or your MP? I would recommend speaking to your MP if not. They can contact the charity and ask  questions on your behalf and get a proper explanation of what is going on and why  they have not been able to assist you further. They may be able to assert additional pressure on the charity, or housing association if appropriate, to get things resolved.

    Hope things get sorted for  you soon.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Hi everyone thanks so much for your advice and I did read it recently. Things have been busy here.

    So I ended up having to stay in a communal area for 10 days after staying at several air bnbs and finding them unsuitable. One of the Airbnbs even had a pest problem! Hornets and flies. The charity supporting me offered me this as there were nothing else available. It was very hard. I was given a hard time by other tenants and nowhere safe to go to. I was on a camp bed (which I had to ask for after being on a sofa and explaining the impact on my pain) and expected to get up set times of the day. I did this because it was temporary and as say had no other option.

    Flat had one treatment, was told everything was fine. Charity cleaned it up for me well, bought a new bed and mattress. I had nowhere to go and thought I will have to try going back, albiet reluctantly.

    Pest control as standard usually do 2 treatments. I was told by charity only one was ok, me thinking they may have done another quickly under the circumstances.

    Day one all fine. Day two, I'm all itchy getting the same reaction again. I flipped over the mattress, low and behold, I see a live bedbug.

    Called charity told would call me back. I had to call them. No sleep that night again. Bagged up everything. Charity told me to get flea spray and bomb. I'm thinking if a treatment by pest control didn't work, shop bought stuff won't make any difference. Charity saying very surprised not gone with new bed, all info on the internet saying difficult to get rid of and nothing to do with cleanliness. Then saying a stray one. Problem is hard to spot and usually much more than can see. My skin would not react like it did with one bug.

    Told could not house me over weekend. Friends lent me money again (already did for previous Airbnbs) for Airbnb. Again, unsuitable. Hot water on and off. Told Monday management would call me.

    Monday 10.30am Christmas Eve. No calls. Out of credit due to paying for accommodation and food. Did 0800 reverse told support worker calling me and meeting me later. Had I heard anything? No.

    Went to public library to keep warm. Then thought, I'm going to make myself their problem. Went to communal project. Saw support worker in car on way. Que me having to justify repetitively the affect on my health, them saying it's just a rash, most people get on with it etc. Saturday went to a and e for mental health as was in crisis and could not take on board anymore. This was after being told to use flea spray.

    Point is as I said to them, this isn't about most people, it's about me and it's not safe for me. Told council unlikely to help me as already have a flat. Taken to council offices, housing options shut called out of hours. They sorted me housing in what must have been all of ten minutes. A room in a family hostel with bathroom and kitchenette. Have full assessment with council on Thursday.
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    With physical health needs I need a safe place to sleep and rest. Difficult time ran out of painkillers twice and wincing while walking due to pain. Glad to have somewhere safe over Christmas and will let you all know how it goes Thursday.

    Charity saying they manage tenancy not landlords. Landlords saying it's the council's problem. Charity saying any maintance issues go through them not HA. So then it falls back on the charity to deal with it. Far as I can see they have been negligent. It's always someone else's problem. I've had to go through whole shebang of bagging everything taking bags to new place showering immediately bagging clothes washing all clothes on 60 could not afford to replace everything again like last time. Had to pray I had done enough.

    Council still saying someone has to live there to know if still a problem. I can't be their guinea pig. ImI vulnerable, disabled and everytime this happens I'm the one madly having to find somewhere to stay, bag everything, shower quickly bag all my clothes and wash them all. I can't cope with it, not with problems with standing and walking as well!!! Can't believe anyone felt it was acceptable. I asked other pest control companies private and all of them said you can treat a property without someone present one of them put it in writing for me and I forwarded this to the charity. I mean how do they treat bnbs and hotels?

    Charity saying not sure them, me well it's common sense isn't it. I had skin problems for 5-6 months, doctor's did all tests and all clear was about to ask for allergy testing found bugs moved away got rid of them healed after a few days free. Before going back skin fine. I go back, same reaction. Doesn't take a genius to figure it out.

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas everyone xx :)))))
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    @WestendCal @Geoark I have a tenancy agreement with the HA and had to sign a lease with the charity in order to live in the property. I accessed the flat as it is owned by the charity. Only people accessing the charity's services can live there.

    The HA say it's the council's responsibility (as said above). The charity say for maintenance issues I have to go through them and also saying they are not the landlords, they only manage the tenancy.

    It's a complicated situation but at the end of the day people and whoever is responsible need to do a better job to care for someone who is vulnerable. In fact everyone needs to pull together to help. I dread to think of another vulnerable person being put through this. Thank god I am strong, able to say how I feel and have some understanding of what's going on.

    @Pippa_Scope I have not called Shelter yet - had no time to think living in the communal project and ever since. Will wait to deal with the council and will speak to Shelter after if need be.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,124Community champion Pioneering
    Hi @happy91 glad to hear you have somewhere safe to stay over christmas.

    The situation you describe is not too uncommon. Such charities come under a number of names but are usually a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) or a residents co-operative. The situation can get very clouded when these are managed by an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO). Nor is it unusual for who is responsible for what under the different management agreements.

    However as you have said, each should co-operate  with one another to ensure vulnerable tenants are not neglected. 

    I hope things go well for you on Thursday.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    @Geoark unfortunately things have not gone well.

    Went to housing office on instruction of council first thing. Got assessed and council said they had no duty to house me due to lack of evidence. The housing officer basically told me what I would need to prove my need, a) drs certificate and b) evidence there could still be a problem due to being between treatments. 

    After housing went straight to a and e to get evidence, they said for gp. Gp said can't see me today, a and e have to do it. A and e tried contacting docs, no reply. Head nurse and a and e called housing, checked if certificate of attendance and a and e was enough evidence of housing need and they told her yes. I was sat in the same room.

    You know what's coming. I went back to housing with no change in decision. The guy on the desk is telling me he had a bedbug issue but sofasurfed during the time. Is there anyway I could do that? Not with my physical disabilities.

    All can do now according to them is appeal and will take 21 days. Landlords again of no help. Saying dealt with it.

    Made plans to end my life after leaving housing office. I started looking at private accomodation, hotels and the like then was like even if I can afford a night then I have to worry about the next night. I don't have the energy and can't afford to do this.

    Came back to the hostel staying at, explained and they have let me stay here tonight. Will call out of hours gp later and try and get a note. Even then, I will have 21 days of being homeless.

    This proves my housing needs need reassessing and I don't believe any god, universe, other decent living person would require another person (let alone someone disabled) to live somewhere where bugs crawl on them at night and their reaction stops them from sleeping. Hostel staff here have said there are options and told me I was worthwhile and alive for a reason.

    Not interested in talking to the charity anymore, it seems from the start they made up their mind not to pay attention to what's going on. I've repeatedly told people again and again I cannot cope with this I need help living with the bugs means they get in your clothes hair things and you have to replace everything there is still a problem at my flat everyone is choosing to ignore me when I have said my skin has flared up again.

    I will let you know what happens but at the moment I've had enough x
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Pest control council said they were happy to confirm the reason there are two treatments is it's likely there will still be some after the first treatment. The charity are saying they haven't seen any (when they were moving around in the property, they feed at night generally and when you are still) and only one treatment is required. I can't believe they would let someone vulnerable live in that.
  • Zebra88Zebra88 Posts: 55Member Connected
    Are you ok? Sorry to hear about the problem you're having with bed bugs. I moved into a housing association house with my children a few years ago and I couldn't afford carpets upstairs as I was on maternity leave. It was a terraced house and the crawl space under the floor went through to a neighbouring property.

    Unfortunately the neighbour 
     was not very proactive in dealing with problems and he told me when I moved in he had rats under the kitchen and bed bugs upstairs. He wasn't joking! I kept getting bites all over my arms at night time and hearing noises downstairs. I have very sensitive skin and my arms looked awful. The final straw was finding a bite on my daughter and I had to let them stay with a family member.

    I had a bad infestation under the floorboards and rats coming through the lino in my kitchen. It was a shame as the house was lovely but if the neighbours do not treat their problem they will just keep coming back. My council does not remove bed bugs... my landlord had a duty to do so but even as a social landlord they kept saying they wouldn't send anyone without proof even though my doctor agreed re the rash and I had seen the bugs. It's like they know it's a problem, an expensive one, and are reluctant to deal with them.

    To cut a long story short they out right refused to help even when I caught one in a glass (that thing lived for like 10 days under the glass)... I did not consider myself disabled at the time so was not receiving any support at all. I ended up moving back in with family... I put everything I owned in a skip. Even one bug is enough to start an infestation again. It broke my heart throwing out everything I owned and I had anxiety for about a year afterwards.

    I took important documents and sentimental things with me like newspapers from the days my children were born, carefully shaken out. I kept them in a vacuumed bag for a year as I was too scared to open them. I was too ashamed to tell anyone why I left my house and all of my belongings at the time. I'm still paying back hire purchase carpets and my sofa which I had to dispose of.

    Still whenever I get an itch or see a brown dot on something I panic as I know how horrible they are to get rid of. I sought professional advice and the guy just told me to run away.

    I know that doesn't help at all I just wanted to let you know that your feelings are valid and that someone understands how you feel. I fell like landlords don't understand how horrible the rash actually is. I used to make my arms bleed scratching the bites and if I didn't scratch them they would sting so bad it was painful. They would also well up really big like massive sores. Just the thought of them can bring on horrible anxiety as well as the strain of bagging your things up or waking up in the night and wondering if they are on you. Please let us know how you got on. This should not be happening. Did you register to look at other properties? Is that something you would consider?
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Zebra88 thanks so much for your message, sorry for your experience X

    I've been on the phone all day and housing still not budging. I'm at the communal project provided by charity. They will expect me back at the property after second treatment over the holidays.

    I'm in social housing do only way can move on is if prove housing need. I have no family to go to or place to stay. Unfortunately I think this will be a long fight with me constantly leaving the property. I got a note from my gp today but I don't think its enough. I even think they may be at the communal space now because my skin is reacting. I will go to out of hours gp if need to
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Of course happy to look at other housing but I need somewhere while do that
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    No I'm not ok. This is pushing me to madness and with the lack of help it's disgusting
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,124Community champion Pioneering
    @happy91 sorry for the late reply and that things have not resolved themselves. At least it sound as if they have done the second treatment.

    Have you managed to call shelter yet? 

    With regards to evidence, it may well be worth your while requesting an allergy test to bed bugs. 

    With regards to your tenancy arrangement, as you have said you had to sign a tenancy agreement with a housing association, you may be able to access their transfer portal to move somewhere else. Though this may be subject to the type of tenancy you have been granted by them. You may need to speak to the housing association to clarify this.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    @Geoark thanks, I will ask for allergy testing at the doctor's.

    I have no credit or access to a phone to call Shelter. Any money I do have need to save incase I have to leave again. I will get money on 10th so need to last until then.

    The second treatment is due to take place this Wednesday. I will be expected to return to the property. My friends have ordered me traps which I hope will arrive when I do. Have to figure out a way to get bed sheets as no money for them and twice now had them infected by bugs.

    If I see them again and can see and feel there is another problem, I get the evidence, call the charity and get straight to the doctor's. When I go back Wednesday I will take only what I need and anything else will be bagged. Everything I need access to will be in a plastic bag. I will scout for the nearest phone box incase need to use 0800reverse as out of credit.

    I will probably not sleep anywhere new until can see there are no problems. I fully anticipate to see them again when I go back and so will probably not sleep until retrieving evidence. Why would five tenants all say the same thing to me? That my neighbor has a problem and so does someone else in the block if it was a lie? The landlord says nothing has been reported which is rubbish because a) pest control themselves told me when they were first there they had treated another property in the block in the past few months when I said I had see a mattress in the trash. b) when I spoke to landlords about issue they said it was the council's concern so they don't keep a record of any of these things.

    They hardly ever clean communal areas to the extent of getting rid of anything that might be there. If my neighbor has them and has had many treatments as these tenants have said then they will keep coming back. 

    It is in my favour if that is the case because we can see then it is not due to me bringing anything in. Sucks having to constantly go back get bitten get clean bag things wash everything buy new everything can but I guess the problem could happen anywhere.

    Dont see the point in appealing housing refusal by the council unless have a further problem Wednesday onwards. If I can speak to tenants and record what they have said, I will. Really appreciate this forum, it has been another lifeline for me throughout this time.
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    They can be difficult to catch so I will need to use myself as bait. Will keep my phone on me and whip it out to take a video if can
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Doing my best to keep busy and stay out of where I am staying. It's a communal space and find I get more peace in a public space. Have difficulty with walking and getting around so this has all put me in a lot of pain. This has been hard and I hope it is resolved soon with me with a lovely flat and space again xxxxx

    I will pursue allergy testing no matter what so have evidence there should this ever happen again. Anywhere I live for the rest of my life will check airtight and have traps and ask if had any pest issues. Xx
  • clpclp Posts: 39Member Connected
    Allergy testing is usually done by referral to a nearby (not necessarily closest) hospital.  There can be a long wait and the testing in my case was done at second appointment.  I don't want to add to your problems but thought it better you knew it may not be a quick result.  I hope things improve for you.
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    @clp that's fine, I will pursue for future help. Seems mad - I've known all my life have an allergy for penicillin, never had it officially tested yet I know it and people trust that. Tell people you have an allergy to bedbugs and noone gets it
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
  • clpclp Posts: 39Member Connected
    I know. Even with penicillin allergies they are now asking for it to be checked as it's so difficult if you can't take it and many people (not you) confuse allergies with side effects
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    @clp sounds like I need to ask to get that one verified too. If that's the case then they need to make it easier for people to be tested for allergies.
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Took penicillin when 11 and came out in big red painful patches
  • clpclp Posts: 39Member Connected
    Then I would stick with allergy personally.  My son did that too at 18 months so I feel for you.  So many confuse stomach upsets etc with allergies.  Always best to tell GP why you think you are allergic and let them check it against side effects.  Make sure it's listed on your medical record too as most systems will now alert doctors and nurses if if they go to prescribe something that contains an ingredient you are allergic to.  As a patient it's not always clear what contains what!
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    Yes. With bugs get an itching sensation so severe not able to sleep all over redness around ankles wrists face chest neck feels like something is crawling all over me. Over 7 months had patches of very dry skin on different places on body and invertigo on chest recurring. Cuts in skin all over.

  • clpclp Posts: 39Member Connected
    That's awful.  Have you managed to get antihistamines / cream from GP?  They do a strong antihistamine which is on prescription only which can help when over the counter ones have failed.
  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,124Community champion Pioneering
    @happy91 just a reminder that the shelter number if free, you do not need credit or money to make the call. I hope things are resolved for you though when you return.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous
    @clp yes I've tried 4 different kinds of antihistamines. They work for a while then stop working

    @Geoark thank you will call them tomorrow. Where I have been staying they are housing someone who is setting off the fire alarm constantly at night. It's the fourth time it's happened with the police and fire service called many times and nothing is being done about it. Its clear that the charity that are supposed to be housing me don't care about my needs at all. This person has mental health issues but it's not an excuse. Constantly they take the piss and expect me to sleep there. Today head office staff were there and I asked them first thing in the morning what was being done about it, they said they were there so clearly something has been done.

    Nothing has been done. This person is still living there and I'm expected to sleep there tonight. I have physical movement problems so everytime the fire alarm is being set off I'm getting up and down and no sleep. This charity is supposed to help vulnerable homeless women and young people - all it seems to be doing is helping the wrong people and ignoring everyone else. This person should have been thrown out but again like with the bug problem noone listens to me. 


    Tomorrow I am investigating getting a mental health advocate and independent advice. I need the support to get through this. I still don't understand why I wasn't put up in a cheap hotel or BnB. They literally don't care.
  • happy91happy91 Posts: 101Member Courageous

    Hi everyone, wanted to give you an update.

    I've had two treatments done at my property and still bedbugs.

    Consulting private companies for treatment

    Had it confirmed my neighbour had them, had treatment and he has been away since I have been back.

    He may still have them but no one home to know

    Even if I have treatment will keep coming back if neighbours not treated

    Have communicated all can with Housing Association

    Getting a call back tomorrow.


    I'm pretty sure my neighbour has gone and committed suicide over this. He had them constantly coming back too. Reading everywhere its the landlord that has to deal with this. Besides this trying to move to private accommodation as quickly as possible.

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