By Morgan Ofori, Local Democracy Reporter
A TV actor is driving the fight to a housing association over her leaky flat in a block for the elderly opened by Princess Margaret in 1952.
Susannah Slater, 82, from Peckham, who appeared in the first TV production for Toad of Toad Hall is accusing the landlord, Paragon Asra (PA), of not acting quickly enough to stop leakages in her flat – and the whole of her block of 50 flats.
Ms Slater, who has lived in Troy Town flats in Nigel Road for 15 years, is appalled by the outdated piping system- which has caused drips in both her kitchen and bathroom.
The actor has had to wait since June 2021 for a response to the bathroom leak. Yet, the more recent kitchen leak – reported last November – is the only issue to have been resolved.
Another block resident, Erwin Oviedo, 66, has a defective roof at the front of his home causing water drip into the kitchen.
Living in the top floor flat has made his home more susceptible to leakages as there are holes in the roof.
Surveying firm Housing Disrepair Surveys (HDS) found rain drips through the living room ceiling via the light bulb socket. Erwin has to use buckets to prevent his floor being flooded – and has no lighting.
HDS deem the flat should be classified as a hazard under the The Housing Health and Safety Rating System.
Erwin, who is seeking legal advice on forcing PA to do the work, is a fabric engineer so spoke from experience when he said: “I know the problems, and to me this is lazy work. The contractors come once and believe that the work is done.”
Fellow top floor resident, Lee Upritchard, 59, also has a leaky roof – she says a contractor has visited once but was unable to fix her shower. Communication on how this issue would be resolved was not forthcoming.
Other problems affecting all the families in the block include:
- Roof spills creating unsafe living conditions.
- Old Piping systems mean the drains are blocked.
- Drug paraphernalia left in communal areas by drug addicts
- Human Faeces and urine in the lift and stairwell.
- Its CCTV is not monitored and maintenance of building by the caretaker is fleeting
- The caretaker and gardener have not been seen for two years.
Ms Slater blames a change of ownership for the poor state of the block.
She said: “Originally, we were Camberwell Housing which was a private charity, and the place was immaculate.
We had a caretaker, we had beautiful gardens, decorating was done for us as well as repairs.
There were good tenants here and the relationship between us all was amicable, we did monthly meetings.
“Then because the Camberwell Housing committee were getting on in age, they could not get anyone younger to come on the committee, so they sold to PA. The land reverted to the control of Southwark.
“These days there are problems with druggies kicking the doors and smashing windows to get in, using the garden as a toilet.
There’s no one in the office.
The people responsible for reporting our problems cannot get through to PA themselves.”
Ms Upritchard added: “Since PA took over it has not been good enough. Rent is still due to go up. Where is the service?”
A spokesman for PA said it is working on the issues.
He added: “It is a priority that our residents feel safe in their own homes, and we are sorry to hear that at Troy Town flats this isn’t the case currently. Our Independent Living Team Manager keeps in regular contact with residents at the scheme. We have organised a scheme surgery at the community centre next door to Troy Town on Wednesday 9th March from 10am to 12pm. We will discuss advice on how to report any issues the residents may have and how to help keep the building safe.”
Ms Slater, who has toured all over America and Canada, hails from an acting family that spans a generation.
Her father owned The Duke of York theatre on St Martin’s Lane in Charing Cross before it was bought by the Ambassador Theatre group in 1992.
Her mother performed in a movie version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It (1936) with Laurence Olivier.
Her sister, Judy White Staber, now living in the USA, is also an actress and has written an autobiographical memoir about their mother’s career.
Main picture: Susannah Slater pictured (left) and inset; and (right) resident Erwin Oviedo