Tenant who slept in car for months due to damp council house moved to hotel

An asthmatic tenant who spent months sleeping in his car because it was better than his damp, freezing cold house has been moved to a hotel.

Robert Doveston said his house became uninhabitable and was making him ill.

He has been put in a hotel by Birmingham City Council after an energy official visited his house and ‘saw three inches of water under his bedroom floor’.

Robert, who has arthritis and uses a walking stick, says he thought he had moved into his dream home last year, but now doesn’t want to return, Birmingham Live reports.

He believes the problem stems from his garden being next to a railway embankment where rainwater fills into a void which, once saturated, starts getting into his property, leading to damp and mould in all the rooms.

“Two men from the energy company came to see my neighbour’s property and observed the water in both of our houses,” said Robert.

The Sutton Coldfield man added: “You can see water under there, moving across the floor – there’s around three inches of water under my bedroom floor – and my neighbour’s floor is full of water too.

“I mentioned that it was a category 1 hazard and the next thing I knew the council moved me into a hotel.

“It’s not ideal because I’m having to pay £8 a day for parking but I’m happy to be somewhere warm and dry. It’s a lot better than staying in my car.”

Robert also claims that his house, on Ebrook Road, is so cold the condensation has frozen his front door lock shut and that if he leaves milk out overnight in his kitchen, it freezes.

Now that he’s staying in a hotel, he believes a drain survey and water testing is being carried out. He has been told he can stay in the hotel for seven days and then to contact the council for an extended stay.

“There’s so much water, it’s going to take a lot of work to try to stop it coming in. It’s a lot of water to try to contain. I don’t think they’ll get rid of the problem unless they knock it all down and start again.

“My walking stick accidentally went into the soil and it sank right up to the handle. I showed this to the man who came to observe it and he agreed that the ground was completely saturated.”

When Robert moved into the property in September 2020, he’d only had a few minutes to look around due to Covid restrictions and he was excited to turn the house into a home.

“I loved that house when I moved in, I just thought it needed redecorating,” he explained.

“My friends said I was beaming when I got that property, I was so happy. I had so many aspirations for it. I spent £2,500 on decorating and upgrading it and I was going to install decking out the front.”

He added: “What’s happened has ruined that dream for me now. It’s a shame.

“Now I just feel like I can’t trust the property anymore. For my own peace of mind and sanity, I’d rather move somewhere else. I have too much resentment for it now.

“There’s no insulation so you’re never going to be able to heat it up properly.

“At least I’ve managed to clean my car out whilst I’ve been at the hotel. I’d been living in it for so long.”

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “We are very sorry for any distress caused to Mr Doveston and want to resolve any problems that may exist with his home as soon as possible.

“Whilst we are unable to comment in detail on this case due to ongoing legal action we can advise that previous inspections found no evidence of water beneath the property and other remedial repairs had been completed.

“However, a further inspection (on May 19) found water in situ and we believe this may be an intermittent problem for which samples have been taken to identify the cause and any further work which may be necessary. During this period temporary accommodation has been arranged for Mr Doveston.”