PENSIONER IN FOYLE ROAD STILL LIVING IN WATER DAMAGED HOUSE 4 MONTHS AFTER THE BIG FREEZE
No compensation from Housing Executive or private landlord
People Before Profit Council candidate Colm Bryce last night highlighted the case of a pensioner in Foyle Road, who has still not been compensated after severe flooding in his flat over Xmas.
Michael James Murray, who has lived at 42 Foyle Road for 26 years, had his flat extensively damaged when the pipes in the flat upstairs burst during the freeze over Xmas. New carpets and a suite of furniture were damaged beyond repair. For months he has been left with a single chair and a TV as his only furniture. He has since managed to borrow a suite of furniture from a friend, on a temporary basis. He still has no carpets in the main living room or the hallway.
Mr Murray’s Housing Executive flat sits directly below a privately owned flat. The tenants were spending Xmas with family and Mr Murray could not gain access to the flat above which was flooding, after frozen pipes thawed. Water poured through the ceiling. The damage was so bad that he was forced to move in with his niece for 5 weeks, having no access to any other accommodation.
Both the Housing Executive and the private landlord have denied any responsibility or liability for the damage. The Housing Executive, when contacted by Mr Bryce yesterday, said that they are not responsible for water leaking into their property from a privately owned flat. They say that Mr Murray might have the right to make a claim under their public liability insurance but “going on previous experience, it is unlikely to be successful”.
A spokesperson for the private landlord, when contacted by Mr Bryce on Tuesday, said that he denied any responsibility or liability for the damage to Mr Murray’s property. He admitted that he was aware that Mr Murray’s niece had presented a quote for replacing the carpet to the Real Estate agent which manages the property, but that he did not accept liability and believed the Housing Executive should take responsibility.
Mr Bryce said, “We’re not talking about a lot of money here, to replace the carpet and the suite of furniture, and perhaps the cooker which was also damaged. But it is the way that Mr Murray has been treated that is really galling and the conditions he has been left to endure. God knows what would have happened if he didn’t have family to support him. No-one, not least a pensioner, should be forced to live in these conditions and be ignored and fobbed off, when the damage to his flat had absolutely nothing to do with him. His niece who lives nearby, had just done up the flat before Xmas, including putting down new carpet. There is a real injustice here.
"The Authorities and the private landlord seem to be expecting Mr Murray to pay for a private court case in order to decide which of them is responsible, which is clearly well beyond his means, or else hope that he gives up on any claim for damages. The legal advice obtained by Mr Murray’s niece was that the private landlord is legally responsible. We would call on the landlord to treat Mr Murray with some decency and pay adequate compensation to replace his carpet and furniture.”