Ex-soldier & family handed keys to ‘uninhabitable’ council house

The inside of the house handed to Lee and Claire Harvey. Pics: FPA
The inside of the house handed to Lee and Claire Harvey. Pics: FPA

It was a damp welcome to civilian life for a former Kirkcaldy soldier and his family as they were presented keys to a mould infested council house last Monday.

Excited to move into their first family home on civvy street, Lee Harley, his wife Claire and six-year-old son Callum stepped into the Burntisland house ready and raring to put their personal stamp on it.

Instead the family were met with a “disgrace”.

“It was awful. The skirting boards were hanging off, the walls were greasy, there was cat poo on the window sill and mould everywhere,” Claire said.

Adding insult to injury Claire claimed the mould aggravated her son’s asthma and there was no way they could move in as planned.

The couple, who are currently staying with Lee’s mum in a small room, feel as if they are stuck in limbo.

The stairway in the house

The stairway in the house

“Callum was so excited to see our new home, but the minute he walked in he was quiet and didn’t want to touch anything. It says a lot when a six year old reacts like that,” said Claire.

The couple were told a council contracted cleaning team had been in the house twice to do a deep clean, but Claire - who was previously a professional cleaner - could see no sign of the work.

“It was still uninhabitable. If I had done that job I would have been fired. It’s getting a bit frustrating. I am pregnant and even my midwife said she doesn’t know how it is going to work.”

Lee said: “After eight years in the Army, I expected more.”

Lee, who has served in Afghanistan, Kenya and the UK, had decided to leave the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in Kinloss so he could settle with his family in Fife.

“I have bought all of the equipment to start work on the place, decorating and fixing it up but there is no way I can solve the mould problem or begin doing anything until it is in a fit state to live in.”

Fife Council has apologised to the couple and said it will sort out the problems.

Gordon Hope, housing team manager for the Kirkcaldy area said: “We apologise to Mr and Mrs Harley for allocating them this home before fully addressing the property’s required repairs.

“A housing maintenance officer has visited to ensure we are addressing all of their concerns and the required work has been actioned for repair.”

Armed Forces housing promise

Fife Council is committed to supporting veterans and to help them secure accommodation after being discharged from the Armed Forces.

Properties are allocated using a points system and if being discharged from the Armed Forces you are entitled to keep 75 points until you have been: allocated a property; secured your own settled accommodation or removed/withdrawn from the housing list.