Life on 'filthy' South London estate from dog poo on stairs to carpets being set on fire

Natasha Johnson, 43, in front of the locked communal garden at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth
-Credit: (Image: Charlotte Lillywhite)


Residents of a 'filthy' apartment block in South West London have said they are scared to leave their homes due to antisocial behaviour they claim their housing association is not cracking down on. People living at 27 Enterprise Way, in Wandsworth, said they do not feel Southern Housing is protecting their safety or properly maintaining the block.

Residents told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) they have experienced antisocial behaviour issues in the block for years - including people smoking in the communal areas, damaging the block, fighting, burning carpets, setting fire to plastic bottles, playing loud music until as late as 5am, leaving dog poo on the stairs, banging on doors and covering the walls with graffiti. They said the block is not properly cleaned, while the communal garden has been locked for an extended period of time.

Southern Housing said it is working hard to support residents and takes their concerns extremely seriously. It added it is regularly visiting the block to make sure residents are safe, an antisocial behaviour officer manages their complaints and it is holding a meeting at the end of the month to share a further update and address any issues.

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A hole in the ceiling of a floor in the block at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth
A hole in the ceiling on one floor of the block -Credit:Charlotte Lillywhite

But residents told the LDRS they feel Southern Housing does not care about them or the state of the block. Natasha Johnson, 43, said her neighbour is staying with family as she is too 'frightened' to return to the block due to antisocial behaviour. Ms Johnson added the issues make her feel 'jumpy' and stop her sleeping, while it has affected her eldest daughter's mental health to the point she refuses to leave the flat.

The mum-of-three said: "My floor is a hazard… there's graffiti all over the walls, there's bikes in the communal areas, it's just horrible. Sometimes I feel sick just even walking in my communal area."

Ms Johnson claimed Southern Housing has not taken action which has resulted in residents' living conditions materially improving. She said: "We want to see action and we're not getting that action... it's unfair. We shouldn't have to live like this."

The condition of a floor in the block at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth
The condition of a floor in the building -Credit:Charlotte Lillywhite

She added: "Why should we have to live in a place where we're scared to go out, we're scared to do different stuff? It's not fair. We should be able to walk freely."

Residents described to the LDRS the huge mental and physical toll issues with the block's only lift breaking down had taken on them in March, along with the continued closure of the communal garden due to antisocial behaviour. While Southern Housing pledged to replace the lift next year, they said it has declined to provide a more specific date which would give them more reassurance.

Southern Housing said it is following the appropriate process to replace the lift and will provide the timetable in due course. It added it has received one report of the lift breaking down since March, which it resolved on the same day.

Natasha Johnson, 43, at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth
Ms Johnson said residents 'shouldn't have to live like this' -Credit:Charlotte Lillywhite

When the LDRS visited the block most recently at the end of May, the locked communal garden was covered with broken glass, bottles, clothes and wires, while there was graffiti and holes in the walls of communal areas. Elisa Mbuanda, 56, described feeling 'neglected in every way' by Southern Housing. Regarding antisocial behaviour, she said: "I have to have someone in the house because sometimes, when I'm on my own, I'm so scared being here."

Renée Allman moved into the block with her son in 2018 and also claimed Southern Housing has failed to crack down on antisocial behaviour. "The filth of the block is the worst thing," she said. "It's depressing, and the vandalism."

The mum added: "It's stressful for me. The place is constantly filthy, they've got people that vandalise the whole block, they've burnt the carpets... they're fighting."

While tenants are not allowed to have dogs in the block, Ms Allman told the LDRS many do and that she often has to step over dog poo on the stairs. She said: "They need to adhere to the guidelines and the rules of the tenancy because it's not fair, I'm paying my rent… the dogs are ruining our lives. They're just constantly weeing, there's dog mess on the stairs."

The state of a floor in the block at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth
Residents said they do not feel the communal areas are properly cleaned -Credit:Charlotte Lillywhite

Ms Allman said residents feel 'forgotten' and claimed there is a 'long catalogue history of [Southern Housing] ignoring all the antisocial behaviour'. She said she emails Southern Housing to report issues every week, but claimed it can take two weeks to receive a response and she does not see any improvement anyway.

Ms Allman added: "They're not managing the block, they're not ensuring our safety, they're not ensuring our wellbeing, our children's wellbeing, our children's safety, they know what's going on… they're just not pushing it. They're not doing enough and they don't care about the state of this block."

A Southern Housing spokesperson told the LDRS: "We've a zero-tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour (ASB) in our homes and we've recently taken court action against a family at Enterprise Way. This resulted in a possession order being obtained and we've applied to the courts for an eviction warrant.

"We're carrying out regular visits to the estate to ensure the safety of our residents and we've a dedicated ASB officer who manages reports of ASB from residents on this estate. They work very closely with other partners and our legal team to ensure appropriate actions are taken. We continue to encourage residents to report criminal-related activities directly to the police.

A hole in a wall of the entrance to the block at 27 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth
A hole in a wall of the entrance to the block -Credit:Charlotte Lillywhite

"Since November last year we've been taking action to deal with residents at Enterprise Way who have dogs in their homes as this is a breach of their tenancy agreement. Further inspections are planned in the coming weeks, and we'll take legal enforcement action if needed. Any reports of dog faeces in communal areas are treated as an emergency, meaning our teams are on site to carry out a thorough clean on the same day. We've also arranged for extra cleaning visits to the block as required."

The spokesperson said Southern Housing will 'continue to keep residents at Enterprise Way updated' and is 'committed to making improvements in the block'. They added: "The second-floor garden remains closed due to residents throwing items from higher floors. This has impacted the safety of contractors when accessing this area to clean, resulting in cleaning being suspended.

"We're mindful of our resident safety if we were to reopen the garden and we're taking action against individuals impacting our services and residents. We'll reopen the garden area as soon as it is safe to do so."

Are you experiencing housing issues in London? Email charlotte.lillywhite@reachplc.com.

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