Devon Royal Navy couple feel unsafe in military housing with more than 20 faults

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The wife of a Royal Navy employee has said he feels ready to end his career due to the family’s poor living conditions. Earlier this month, DevonLive’s sister publication PlymouthLive was contacted by the woman and asked for anonymity after she moved into premises in the Plymouth Torpoint ‘Married Quarter’ in late 2019 and now “they don’t feel safe”.

The house is intended for married couples, or people in civil partnerships, and is owned by the Ministry of Defense (MoD). The family of three moved into their property over three years ago and since then they have experienced more than 20 different property issues, several of which are ongoing and have yet to be addressed.

A child’s mother revealed how they noticed mold all over the house on their first day, also noting that the front door was damaged but not repaired. She says both issues are ongoing even today.

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More disturbing to them was the poorly fitted boiler with an inadequately sized flue, which increased the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“I actually don’t feel safe in my own home,” she said. “I actually had to go back on my antidepressants, so it affects not only our physical health, but also my mental health, to the point where sometimes it doesn’t bother me.”

The maintenance of the properties is not up to the Ministry of Defense, despite the fact that they own it. Instead, that responsibility falls to an outside company.

One national management contract has been awarded to Pinnacle Housing and the Southwest contract has been awarded to VIVO Defense. There is no contractual relationship between Pinnacle and VIVO Defense.

Pinnacle manages the real estate allocation process, manages the repair help desk, and conducts entry and exit arrangements with service families. Pinnacle does not make repairs to property.

Because VIVO Defense wins the contract in 2022, repairs are their responsibility. Since then, the family has registered several problems with the company; an example is dangerous wiring after a phone charger “blew” in their 14-year-old’s bedroom.

It was the result of a power surge, and although an electrician came by that day to inspect the outlet, the family had to wait another four days for another electrician to be called in to check the rest of the house for electrical faults.

In the meantime, VIVO Defense advised the family to “limit the use of sockets”, and further informed them that their current meter box was “unsafe” and that they needed a new one. The mother says it took more than a month for a new fuse box to be fitted.

They also encountered a broken water heater that left them without heating for two of the coldest days in December. Overall, since moving into their home, they have had a total of 22 reported issues.

They are as follows:

The family says that VIVO Defense has not solved problems, including their mould, the broken front door, the broken kitchen ventilation, the broken shower, the poorly fitted windows, the building’s blocked gutters or the rotten gate. Speaking about the past three years, the Royal Navy employee’s wife said: “It’s affected my health, my son’s health, to the point where I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t actually feel safe in my own home.

When asked how long the family can live in these conditions, she said, “Not much longer, not much longer. I mean, my husband wants to leave the Navy, he wants to give up his career in the Navy because of the state of the house, the state of everything.”

A spokesman for VIVO Defense said that every army family “is entitled to a warm, safe and well-maintained home”. The spokesperson said: “This is incredibly important and we are making good progress in resolving recent issues that some families have been experiencing.

“We have deployed additional people and resources to achieve this and are working closely with Pinnacle, who run the National Service Center, to ensure we deliver a consistently reliable service. We fully respect the family’s wish to include in this article remain anonymous, but we would really like to check the status of work at their home to see how we can help with any outstanding issues they may have and I would urge them to contact us.”

The Ministry of Defense spokesman said: “Ministers have made it clear that it is completely unacceptable that some of our staff and their families are not getting the level of housing they deserve. We were kept informed of progress in resolving service family accommodation issues, following urgent meetings held with the CEOs of key providers.”

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