London Student

Ceiling collapses in UCL halls bedroom

A ceiling has collapsed in the bedroom of a UCL student, despite warnings about the building’s structural integrity being reported in February.

Maxime Duchateau, a history student on the Erasmus programme living in Campbell House, spoke to managers earlier in the year after noticing damp marks on his ceiling from the bathroom on the floor above.

When he returned from his Easter holidays, he found that a large chunk of the ceiling had collapsed and fallen on to his bed, and the entire room was wet.

He said: “I had remarked some marks on the roof, which looked like water. My guess is that other leaks happened before, which made the ceiling fragile. And eventually, it came to this.

“The whole room was freezing, the bed, the soil, my things on the soil were all soaking wet. As you can see on the pictures, the piece of the ceiling that fell does not in any way weigh nothing. It is heavy. And I could have been underneath it. I could have been seriously injured, this is not a joke.”

Collapsed ceiling 1

UCL has given him another room, and he is demanding a full refund on his rent, plus a copy of the investigation into the incident.

This will come as a boost to UCL’s Rent Strike campaign, which has reported the building to Camden Council’s safety control team. A spokesperson said: “This is only the latest example of dangerous structural neglect of residents’ health and safety.

“The student in the affected room reported a leak to UCL management in February and the bathroom above was inspected. Considering previous reports, this constitutes an extremely serious safety breach by management.”

Rent strike activist David Dahlborn added: “This also raises serious questions regarding the qualifications of Duncan Palmer, a former senior director at private accommodation firm UPP.”

Mr Palmer, currently interim head of student accommodation, said: “UCL are aware and have been dealing with an incident of a partial collapse of a ceiling in a student bedroom which occurred due to a small ongoing leak from the bathroom above.

“On receiving the report of the incident, UCL immediately fixed the leak, re-housed the student and made sure the room was safe. Once the ceiling has dried out sufficiently we will be in a position to fully repair the room.

“Although events like these do happen, fortunately, they are few and far between. UCL are committed to operating safe and secure accommodation for all our students.”

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Emma Yeomans

Classics student at UCL; news fangirl at London Student. Student Publication Association's Best Reporter 2016.

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