A single mum from Lewisham feels she has “no choice” but to send her four-year-old son to stay with her mum after a spinal operation as her flat is too small to give him his own bed.

Kelly Burke lives in Booth Court, Lewisham in a two-bedroom flat with her 13-year-old son and soon to be four-year-old twins.

She rents the flat from housing association L&Q and requested to be moved into a bigger flat when her twins were born.

However, she has been told that her only option is to swap with someone else.

Kelly said: “No one wants to swap into my building because after a news story hit about cockroaches in here no one wants my building - no one at all.

Booth CourtBooth Court (Image: News Shopper)

“Everyone will come and say it looks nice and then they go away and Google it.

“They find the story about cockroaches taking over the building and then say 'I don’t want it because of the stories'.

“I get it because I wouldn’t want to move into my building.

“I completely understand why people wouldn’t want to move into it.

“Very, very few people want to move in here.

“If someone moves in here, it’s because they are very desperate because everyone in the building wants out.”

Recently, Kelly’s nan, who was also an L&Q tenant, passed away.

Her flat had three bedrooms and Kelly immediately requested to be swapped into this property.

But she was told that it was not possible as the flat would be transferred back to the council.

She added: “Since they said I could swap with someone, I was like ‘can I not swap into my nan’s property?’ but they’re saying that goes back to the council.

“They told me I had to find somewhere, I found it, it is their property – my nan was an L&Q resident so why can’t I swap there?”

To make things worse, one of Kelly’s twin boys suffers from scoliosis and is having an operation soon.

Scoliosis is a condition which causes a person’s spine to twist and curve to the side.

Kelly has no choice but to send her son to her mum’s home while he recovers from his operation as he needs to sleep alone and currently, her twins share her bed.

She explained that her 13-year-old son’s room is very small, only big enough to fit a single bed and a wardrobe.

Kelly describes her room as “a small double room” with only a double bed and a wardrobe.

She has been told that she cannot turn her living room into another bedroom as it is open plan with the kitchen, making it a safety hazard.

She said: “Because I don’t have an adequate sleeping arrangement, he’s having to stay at my mums because he needs to be able to sleep in a bed by himself not occupied by anyone else just in case someone hits his back or something.

“So luckily, my mum said yes but I shouldn’t have to send my child away because he’s having an operation.

“And god forbid, if I didn’t have my mum what would I do? I’m a single parent.

“He thinks I’m sending him away because I don’t care about him and that’s not the case and that’s heartbreaking to me.

“Even though I’m reassuring him, trying to explain that to a four-year-old – he doesn’t understand why he’s going away and not his brother.

“It’s not nice.

“It feels like I’m pushing him away because he’s sick and that’s not the case. I’m not mad that he’s sick but he feels like that.”

Kelly’s son will need to have other operations in the future as well as this one, and she does not want to send him to her mum’s home after each one.

Not only for her son’s sake, but also for her mum who is 57-years-old and suffers from high blood pressure and knee issues as well has recently having a blood clot.

“I have no choice,” said Kelly “How much longer can I wait?”

Andrew Goodman, Head of Empty Homes and Lettings at L&Q, said: “We completely understand and sympathise with Ms Burke and her family’s need to move to a larger, more suitable home and we will do everything we can to help, including working with the local authority.

“However, L&Q's formal agreement with Lewisham Council means when a property becomes empty the local authority then manage its re-allocation to people who are in the most housing need on their waiting list.

“This means that L&Q cannot move or transfer residents in Lewisham to other properties within the borough, even those of family members, as all residents with increased housing requirements need to join the waiting list to be referred for larger housing by the council.

“With regards to issues with cockroaches, we dealt with this last year and have had no reports of any problems since August 2023.

“Unfortunately, demand for family sized homes of any affordable tenure far outstrips supply across the UK, and there are 323,800 households on London’s social housing waiting list alone.”

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: "Lewisham is facing a housing crisis, with around 10,000 households on the housing waiting list.

"Larger family homes are in particularly short supply.

"L&Q, along with our other social housing partners in the borough, advertise their available properties on Lewisham Find Your Home, allowing eligible residents to bid for a property.

"Lewisham Council’s Allocation Policy determines who is eligible for social housing in Lewisham and the priority they should receive.

"Eligible applicants are placed on a Housing Register, and their priority is determined based on their current housing situation.

"The policy also includes provision for residents to appeal decisions about their priority banding, as well as inform us if their circumstances have changed."