A Wimbledon Times investigation has revealed the disgraceful living conditions which residents in a housing block in Mitcham, south London, say they have been left to deal with for more than a decade.

Families living in the block of flats at Richmond Court on Phipps Bridge Estate, said they have been forced to live amongst rats, cockroaches, severe damp, flooding and other maintenance issues.

It comes just months after the UK's largest housing association Clarion Housing Group were exposed for similar conditions on Eastfields Estate in Mitcham.

Wimbledon Times found that Clarion Housing have continued to ignore residents at Richmond Court for many years despite their complaints.

Richmond Court is plagued by a rodent infestation, with several residents showing us videos of rats running around their building and mice going into their properties.

Residents said that severe issues of plumbing have also failed to be fixed – which has left neighbours sewage coming up each other’s kitchen and bathroom sinks - causing constant flooding at their properties.

Those living in Richmond Court said they have also raised concerns about broken entry systems to the building – which has reportedly allowed gangs and drug users to reside outside of their properties.

Neighbours have also reported strangers coming into their block to urinate on the stairwell frequently.

MORE: Clarion exposed for squalid housing on Eastfields Estate

Your Local Guardian: Residents have reported frequent flooding and blockages Residents have reported frequent flooding and blockages

A resident called Daisy has suffered from flooding, rodent issues and cockroaches. She told us what it was like to live in the conditions whilst pregnant.

“I spent every day on the phone to clarion crying because I was sleeping in my living room as I have a two-year-old and now a five-month-old,” she said.

“I was pregnant and I was catching mice every single night and had to replace traps daily.

Your Local Guardian: Residents have been forced to buy their own traps Residents have been forced to buy their own traps

“I found droppings in my daughter's cot, I had to throw away bags of my clothes which have been destroyed by the mice.

“My kitchen is so unclean and not fitted correctly at all, I have one cupboard in particular which is absolutely disgusting but clarion have refused to refit anything."

Jodie has lived at Richmond Court for 25-years, she said the severity of the rodent infestation has gradually increased each year and has also been battling an ongoing issue with mould.

“Despite efforts to block entry sites, the mice find ways into our home through pipes and small cracks in the brickwork,” she said.

Your Local Guardian: Photos of mould taken in the bathroomPhotos of mould taken in the bathroom

“We have been experiencing thick, black, wet mould in the corners of our ceilings which gets significantly worse in winter times.

"The windows collect condensation which drips, leaving puddles on the floor.”

Emily who lives on the top floor with her two-year-old son, said that her property has had “constant problems” from the moment she moved in three-years-ago.

“I have had mice since I moved in and have tried to arrange for clarion to come in and treat the pest issue and repair the holes in my property to stop this,” she said.

My shower only uses boiling hot water even with the cold tap on all of the way and the minimum starting temperature is 47'c which could obviously heat up more and scald my child.

“Again, I was disregarded and eventually had to contact the local MP.”

Your Local Guardian: Residents have been forced to cover entrance holes with bin bags Residents have been forced to cover entrance holes with bin bags

Emily went onto say that she has been told that her shower needs to be replaced and that she needs an asbestos survey. She currently awaits both.

The worried mother said she is also waiting for her front door to be replaced due to broken hinges which has left her struggling to open her front door as it often becomes jammed. She is concerned that in the event of a fire she could become stuck.

"I am so embarrassed to have people visit my property due to all of these issues and this as well has contributed to my depression," she added.

Your Local Guardian: Residents say the rodents have been entering through multiple holes on the roof Residents say the rodents have been entering through multiple holes on the roof

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, has been living at Richmond Court for six years, she said: “I hate living here. If the crime and gang activity wasn't bad enough, we have to deal with our block not being cleaned properly which has led to mice and now a nest of rats.

“The plumbing in the block is ridiculous too. I have had other people's poo come up in my toilet and my sink.

"The sink in my kitchen is always flooding which has left my flooring damaged.

“Clarion told me it was my own fault even though it’s not my toilet that is the problem.”

Your Local Guardian: Residents said they are 'out of pocket' due to paying for traps Residents said they are 'out of pocket' due to paying for traps

A husband and wife who live in Richmond Court said they had to contact emergency services after their daughter cut herself on the rust on the side of their bath.

“We had to call 111 to seek urgent advice as it could have resulted in a tetanus infection,” they said.

“There is poor ventilation in the bathroom which has resulted in the mould growing uncontrollably.

"Rodents have been eating the children's shoes and packages of food stored in the cupboard.

Your Local Guardian: A picture of the mould in their bathroomA picture of the mould in their bathroom

"Due to the constant squeaking, my children sometimes have sleepless nights.

"The council still choose to not fix this serious issue that many of us residents on this estate are facing."

Other maintenance issues in the block include a broken lift which has left parents on the top floor, to carry their kids up and down the stairs for a number of weeks.

In April 2010, as part of its transfer of housing stock, Merton Council transferred all of its tenant properties to a housing association Merton Priory Homes which is now part of Clarion Housing Group.

Your Local Guardian: Residents at Richmond Court Residents at Richmond Court

Resident Dipak, who lives with his 79-year-old mum, said that the mice infestations have “always been bad”, but became worse when Clarion Housing took over the tenancy.

“Pre-Clarion days were really bad. Under Clarion governance, the bad went to worse,” he said.

The appalling conditions have taken a toll on all of us.”

A paper petition, as seen by the Wimbledon Times, has been signed by 46 residents out of the 55 who live in the housing block, calling for change.

Your Local Guardian: Residents believe there is a rats nest by their bin areaResidents believe there is a rats nest by their bin area

In the petition, which hasn’t been published due to some residents asking for anonymity, residents questioned why they pay for a weekly communal cleaning service when the block remains “filthy”.

Residents have since calculated a summary of the cleaning costs just for Richmond Court since Clarion took over – which added to a rough total of £145k to £186k.

A Clarion spokesperson told the Wimbledon Times that they have planned a programme of roof, kitchens, bathrooms, doors and heating system replacements over the next five years.

Clarion Housing said that 41 repairs to communal areas at Richmond Court and 254 repairs within individual properties has taken place over the past year.

They said they plan to replace the ventilation system next year within the flats across the estate, to help alleviate condensation which can result in mould.

Your Local Guardian: Residents say they have been charged premium costs for a cleaning service Residents say they have been charged premium costs for a cleaning service

A spokesperson for Clarion Housing Group commented: “We have been speaking to residents and taking action to resolve the issues affecting Richmond Court, before they were reported to the Wimbledon Times.

“A baiting plan started on the 26th July to combat the pest issue and a letter on next steps was sent to all residents on the 5th August. Once complete, remedial work will be undertaken to prevent a reoccurrence.

“In addition, scaffolding is being erected today (20th August) to repair the leak that is preventing the lift from working.

“We appreciate the impact these issues have had on residents and their wellbeing is our top priority. Over the last five years we have invested over £950,000 in the Phipps Bridge estate and plan to invest a further £550,000 over the next five years.

“In the coming weeks we will also be conducting surveys to assess what additional improvements we can make to the block, including the replacement of the door entry system.”


Your Local Guardian: More pictures from inside Richmond Court More pictures from inside Richmond Court

Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, Councillor Martin Whelton, said that the council has highlighted residents’ concerns and have urged for the issues to be fixed “without further delay."

Wimbledon Times requested a comment from Merton Council, in response a council spokesperson said: “The council is deeply concerned about the living conditions which residents of Richmond Court in Mitcham have been enduring, as highlighted by videos showing rats in the building and photographs showing levels of degradation both within and without properties, as well as reports from residents about the broken lift and entry system, and plumbing issues throughout the block.

“We would like to thank residents and the Times for bringing this to our attention, and for sharing with us their petition to Clarion Housing Group, which has been signed by tenants from 47 of the block's 55 properties.”