Saturday, 05 September 2015

Maria Ighodalo died three months before similar death at Notting Hill property

L&Q tenant killed by carbon monoxide

A housing association tenant died of carbon monoxide poisoning three months before a similar death in a flat with the same type of heating system prompted a national health and safety warning.

Last year, Inside Housing revealed that 26-year-old dance teacher Elouise Littlewood died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the flat she co-owned with housing association Notting Hill. Ms Littlewood died in February 2008 (see timeline).

All of the newly built flats in the Bedfont Lake development, which was built by Barratt, had a full set of gas safety certificates.

Following her death, the Health & Safety Executive issued a warning that thousands of people across the UK could be living in homes that pose an immediate threat to their lives, after investigating the commonly used type of heating system in the development.

Inside Housing has now learned that Ms Littlewood was not the first person to die from carbon monoxide poisoning in a new-build block of flats with a concealed flue system.

Three months before her death, on 14 November 2007, a 28-year-old housing association tenant, Maria Ighodalo, died in a block of flats, known as Beulah Hill, in Upper Norwood.

The flat, which had a gas safety certificate and is owned by landlord London & Quadrant Housing Group, also used a concealed flue heating system. The system gets its name because the flue is concealed from sight and does not immediately exit the home through an external wall, making it difficult to check.

A spokesperson for L&Q said the HSE was still investigating the death of Ms Ighodalo and that it was waiting for its conclusions.

She said that following the incident the landlord had checked all boilers and flues in every flat in ‘all three blocks of the Beulah Hill development and found them to be in a safe condition’.

‘We installed carbon monoxide detectors for added protection and continue to carry out full boiler services each year,’ she added.

L&Q had checked boilers in all of its properties since Ms Ighodalo’s death as part of its regular annual checks.

A spokesperson for the HSE said the investigations into both accidents ‘remain ongoing’. He said the circumstances in the two cases were different.

A safety alert had been issued last year because ‘initial investigations suggested the circumstances of the Bedfont Lakes incident could be present in other properties’.

A spokesperson for Notting Hill Housing Association said: ‘We have cooperated fully with the HSE in its thorough investigations of the factors involved in the tragic death of a resident at Bedfont Lakes.’

Timeline

14 November 2007
Tenant Maria Ighodalo, 28, dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in a block of flats owned by London & Quadrant Housing Group.

27 February 2008
Elouise Littlewood, 26, dies of carbon monoxide poisoning in the new build flat she co-owns with Notting Hill Housing Association.

September 2008
House builder Barratt, which built Ms Littlewood’s flat, reveals it has stepped in to make sure residents are safe in three further developments, which contain similar gas heating systems, to ensure their safety.

October 2008
The Health & Safety Executive warns landlords to check a specific type of flue system - known as concealed flues - even if they have gas safety certificates. It estimates there are 1,200 homes which could be ‘immediately dangerous’.

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