Council steps in to replace young mum’s water-damaged Christmas presents

Benitha Iradukunda whose ceiling came in on top of her Christmas tree - ruining the presents she had bought for her toddler son. Picture: JPIMedia
Benitha Iradukunda whose ceiling came in on top of her Christmas tree - ruining the presents she had bought for her toddler son. Picture: JPIMedia
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A YOUNG single mum whose Christmas was almost ruined after her living room ceiling fell in is looking forward to the festivities again after the council stepped in.

Benitha Iradukunda, 23, from Pilton, contacted the Evening News after the damp ceiling collapsed on Monday. She has lived in the council-owned property since September last year.

She said: “I’ve been complaining to the council for as long as I’ve lived here and every time I complained I was palmed off and told it wasn’t damp enough.

“But since I moved in there has been water damage. There was a big lump where the water was. It came to the point last year that I had to move my furniture away as it was getting wet when it was raining.”

Benitha has had to keep windows open in all weathers to air the flat out and have the electricity on “double time” to keep her and her two-year-old son warm and dry.

Arriving home from college on Monday around 6pm, Benitha found the roof had fallen in and damaged her son’s presents which lay underneath the tree.

She said: “When we came home there was an overwhelming smell of wetness.

“I realised I had run out of electricity. The only light I had on was my Christmas tree because it’s battery powered, so I went to turn that on and that’s when I felt water underneath the tree.”

The ceiling plaster had given way and knocked the tree off its table, smashing decorations and damaging toys and clothes for her son that Benitha had been saving up for.

She said: “If anything had happened when we were at home me and my son could have been in the room and it could have fallen on us.”

After calling her housing officer to explain what had happened, Benitha was left frustrated when workmen came to the flat to repair the gaping hole with a black bin bag.

She said: “I told them that all his presents had been ruined. I told them I’m a single parent so I’ve got no one else to help. It was so heartbreaking.”

After being told that a full repair couldn’t be carried out until the New Year, Benitha contacted the Evening News in desperation.

That very day, a new repair was carried out and she was assured that she would be reimbursed for the cost of the presents that were ruined – around £150 worth.

Benitha said: “I feel a little bit better but I know this has only been done because I went to the newspaper, and if I hadn’t what would the situation be?

“I think that’s the worst thing, that I’ve had to take it to this extreme when they should have already been doing it.”

Councillor Kate Campbell, Housing and Economy Convener, said: “We fully sympathise with Ms Iradukunda and the situation she is in. We’ve carried out a temporary repair on the ceiling.

“In the New Year we’ll carry out the permanent repairs required and check the property fully for dampness.

“We’re also speaking to Ms Iradukunda about what she needs so she can replace the presents in time for Christmas.”