Elderly South London residents say they have been living in a “death house” where crickets have stopped them sleeping and even crawled over a resident’s face in the middle of the night.

Social housing tenants of retirement home Oak House in Putney claim they are treated with “utter disdain” by PA Housing and say their emails have gone unanswered despite paying service charge.

They said they went almost a week without heating and hot water this month – and a hole in the communal lounge’s ceiling following a leak last week still hasn’t been repaired.

Wandsworth Times: Cricket in Oak House, Putney. Credit: Maggie JonesCricket in Oak House, Putney. Credit: Maggie Jones (Image: Maggie Jones)

They criticised the maintenance of the building and garden, adding that there had been a rotten bench for at least three years, overgrown bushes and a shed in disrepair.

Maggie Jones, 69, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the place felt “like a death house”. 

She said PA Housing had sent pest control to lay down traps for the crickets before, and to fumigate utility cupboards last week, but said the entire building needs fumigation.

Wandsworth Times: Broken pots in the garden at Oak House in PutneyBroken pots in the garden at Oak House in Putney (Image: Charlotte Lillywhite)

Ms Jones added that the problem started a year ago when crickets being fed to a pet tarantula escaped into the piping system and that residents had been “battling with PA” to deal with the problem since.

She said: “I’ve had them on my kitchen work surface, in my bathroom and in my bedroom. [Another resident] was woken up in the middle of the night with them crawling over his face.”

Resident Chris Maher, 72, said his flat had recently been infested with crickets for around two weeks “meaning I couldn’t sleep”.

His neighbour, 70-year-old Beverley Tucker, said they were “horrible” and that she had heard them across the hallway with her door closed.

Wandsworth Times: The ceiling of the communal living room on October 24The ceiling of the communal living room on October 24 (Image: Charlotte Lillywhite)

PA Housing told the Local Demcoracy Reporting Service pest control revisited the building on October 24 and is working to get into each flat to ensure the crickets are eradicated.

It said its contractor is visiting on October 28 to repair the ceiling and that the garden’s shed and benches were being removed.

But residents said PA hadn’t updated them about the issues. They said there had been a drop in standards since the complex moved from sheltered housing to independent living following a review in 2014, adding that a housing officer now comes once instead of five times a week.

Ms Jones, who pays £800 a month for her one-bed flat, said: “When it comes to actually looking after us and responding to us, they treat us with utter disdain… they don’t answer emails.” 

She added: “Not once have they sent us an email reassuring us about the cost of living and what they’re doing to help us. We haven’t heard anything.”

Maria Frawley, assistant director of property services and repairs at PA Housing, said: “We are really sorry that customers living in our independent living scheme, Oak House, have reported that they are unhappy about the service they’ve recently received.

“We arranged for a specialist pest control contractor to revisit the building [on October 24] to carry out another treatment, following a further report of a cricket found in the hallway.

"While our contractor found minimal traces of crickets in the communal areas, as part of their follow-up visit next week, we are working with residents to gain access to each flat so we can ensure the issue is completely eradicated.”

She added: “Our grounds maintenance team are scheduled to visit every fortnight and, following their last visit, raised concerns that they had not been able to access some of the surrounding bushes or shed.

"Ahead of their next visit, we will be liaising with residents to ensure there are no vehicles or belongings restricting the contractor from carrying out the scheduled works.

“In addition, our contractor is scheduled to visit this Friday to carry out remedial works to the communal ceiling following a leak from the flat above.

"While we are working to resolve any outstanding repairs as quickly as possible, our team will be contacting residents at Oak House directly to discuss any further queries they may have.”