A FAMILY who are living in a council house which is “falling apart” are asking Cornwall Council and its accommodation arm, Cornwall Housing, to finally make their home habitable a year on from work which was supposed to have stopped holes appearing in their floors.

Natalie Jones, who lives in the property in Lanreath, near Looe, with her husband Dean and sons Logan, four, and Tommy, two, told us: “It’s not a home, it’s just a house – an unsafe house.”

Dean added: “We’re about ready to walk out – we’ve had enough, but where would we go?”

The floors are so rotten in the house in Pine Villas that both Dean and Natalie have fallen through on numerous occasions and now fear their little boys will do the same. Cornwall Housing says it is working with the family to tackle the issues in their home and apologises for the time it is taking.

Natalie and Dean have spoken out about their experience a few weeks after Cornwall Council revealed that around a third of its housing stock is below the government’s decency standard. The council owns 10,300 homes across Cornwall.

Dean and Natalie Jones with their son Logan outside their home with the rotten flooring which has been removed from their council house in Lanreath
Dean and Natalie Jones with their son Logan outside their home with the rotten flooring which has been removed from their council house in Lanreath. (Picture: Lee Trewhela/LDRS)

The Jones family had to move out of their house in 2022 for what they were told would be three weeks of remedial work after they started falling through the floor in the kitchen and hallway. That work eventually took a year. Now the problems have started all over again. It’s fair to say the couple are at their wits’ end.

Natalie’s mother Lynn added: “You should have seen the state of the house. Honestly, it was awful. The whole of the floor in the living room was gone – you could see the ground.” In the end, the kitchen had to be entirely rebuilt.

The family moved back into their house and everything was fine for a year, but holes started appearing again at Christmas. “We’ve gone through the floors about six times in the last five weeks,” said Natalie.

There are other problems with the house too, which the family consider “minor” compared with the rotten flooring.

“Our utility room next to the kitchen is full of mould, but the work they did wasn’t completed, so the flooring’s all uneven. They’ve taken out partition walls but left radiators over the top of mould and said ‘there you go’ basically. Plus there are other things – like windows not closing properly and handles off doors, which I’ve reported,” said Natalie, who is concerned about the stress living in such conditions will have on a congenital heart condition she has.

Logan Jones, four, points to the hole that has appeared in the kitchen of the family\'s council house near Looe
Logan Jones, four, points to the hole that has appeared in the kitchen of the family's council house near Looe. (Picture: Lee Trewhela/LDRS)

They reported the children’s bedroom window not closing properly eight months ago. “Not one person’s come out to look at the windows. I’ve had to stick a blanket in it as it doesn’t shut properly, just to get some warmth in there,” added Dean.

Natalie pointed out another problem: “There was a leak recently – they put in a new heating system in for us. We used to have night storage heaters, but now we’ve got an air source heat pump, but they left the original pipe work. That had been leaking for a while but we only noticed when the floor started going through. We waited for about four weeks for that leak to be stopped.”

The family is £1,800 in rent arrears as they were still paying for the house in the year they weren’t living there.

Lynn added: “I live on my own and get single person’s discount, but because I had these in the house they charged me for it. I had another £1,000 bill to pay. They didn’t tell me about that for months and months. I didn’t think about it as I was just helping them out for what should have been three weeks.”

A spokesperson from Cornwall Housing said: “We have been working with the residents in this case to tackle and address the issues in their home. While we are unable to go into individual circumstances, in cases such as this we will bring in specialist surveyors to pinpoint the underlying cause.

“It can take a little time for surveys to be undertaken, results to be considered and a plan of action put in place to tackle the underlying issues. We are sorry that this has not yet been resolved and will continue to work with the residents to rectify this as soon as possible.”

The spokesperson added: “Cornwall Council has substantially increased the amount of money to improve the condition of tenants’ homes, including more money for day-to-day repairs and renewals, with a plan to spend over £83-million in the next eight years. However, there are many homes that desperately need investment to bring them up to a decent standard, and we are working closely with the council and our sub-contractors to get these works under way.”