A housing association has responded to a complaint raised by a tenant who was left without heating and hot water. 

Teaching assistant Chelsea O'Brien, 28, said she was told by Abri Housing Association that no engineers would be available for four days – leaving her and her two-year-old daughter without heating for four nights as temperatures plummet to -1c.

Sarah Sargent, director of vustomer experience at Abri, said an engineer visited Chelsea's property in Rooksdown, Basingstoke, within two hours of the call. 

In a statement, she said: “The safety and wellbeing of our customers and colleagues will always be our priority. We wish Miss O’Brien a speedy recovery from Covid-19 and fully understand the difficulties of being without hot water and proper heating for a short period. 

“An Abri engineer visited Miss O’Brien at her home within two hours of the first call on Thursday and delivered temporary heaters with a commitment to return when a further risk assessment could be undertaken and when subsequent diary changes could be made to mitigate the risks to further customers scheduled to be visited later that day. While all our engineers have the necessary PPE, they would only go into a Covid-positive household in an emergency situation where there is serious and immediate danger to the customer. This is to ensure their own safety as well as that of our other customers, many of which are extremely vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19.

“In this instance, an engineer was able to return on Monday because he had cleared his diary and was not seeing any other customers that day, thus limiting the risk to others. During the period in question the customer had a temporary heating supply and a commitment to remedy the hot water as soon as a risk assessment and further specialist advice was obtained in terms of how to enter the property and conduct the repair.”

The spokesman added: “We always send an engineer to emergency call-outs within 24 hours. In this particular case, we sent an engineer to the property within two hours of the initial call. Depending on the issue, our engineers are sometimes able to fix the problem immediately. At other times it’s necessary for us to order parts and attend on another day to complete the repair (usually within five working days). Until a boiler is fixed, we always provide customers with temporary heaters.”