A woman fears she could be killed or seriously injured by a damaged staircase that people have been warning the authorities about for years.

Christine Wills, who lives in a flat in Edgeworth Close, Hendon, fears a large chunk of the handrail on the concrete staircase could fall off when she or another person is using it – which could also fall on someone walking beside the building.

She has to use the staircase to access her first-floor flat, and a chunk of the cracked handrail clearly moves when it is pushed.

Mrs Wills, who is 70 and works part time as an NHS blood courier, said she, her downstairs neighbour and her son had been telling Barnet Council’s housing arm, Barnet Homes, about cracks and damage to the property for years – but nothing had ever been done to fix the problems.

Times Series: A chunk of the staircase moves when it is pushedA chunk of the staircase moves when it is pushed

She said people from Barnet Homes had visited to take photos and said they would send someone else round, but no work had taken place.

Mrs Wills said: “It is like there is a big chunk taken out of the wall – about two-and-a-half feet wide and the same length. If you get someone coming up the stairs and using it to pull themselves up, it is going to come away.

“This has been going on since 2005 and has just got worse. My neighbour was writing to Barnet Homes back then.

“Barnet Homes have never done anything. They keep saying, ‘we will send someone round’. They are literally doing nothing.”

Times Series: The inside of the damaged staircaseThe inside of the damaged staircase

Mrs Wills’ property also has cracks in the walls running into the hallway and in other parts of her flat.

When she was considering buying the flat several years ago, she was told it may need underpinning – work to strengthen the foundations of the building.

She fears the problem is now so bad she may have to move out of her home if any work is done.

“It is just getting me down now,” Mrs Wills said. “I went to my son’s for a week and took my suitcase down the stairs, but I couldn’t hold on to the side of it. It was a bit of a struggle.

“I had a washing machine delivered and had to tell people not to touch the side of the wall.

“I am scared for my neighbours as well, if they walk past that way and the wall comes down.

“I pay rent and have never asked them for anything, but Barnet Homes do not seem to care what happens.”

A Barnet Homes spokesperson said: “The safety and peace of mind of our residents is our number one priority, and we regularly inspect our properties and communal areas to ensure residents’ safety.

“We apologise that on this occasion, our service has fallen below the level we strive to deliver, in this case due to a breakdown in internal communication. We appreciate Mrs Wills’ concerns and will be working with her and other residents at the property to address the issues present.

Times Series: Cracks are also running into Mrs Wills' hallwayCracks are also running into Mrs Wills' hallway

“The issues are being caused by roots from trees to the rear of the buildings. A number of cherry trees were felled in February 2019, after which a period of ground settlement is taking place. We continue to inspect the property regularly to ensure the residents’ safety.

“We had initially planned to carry out further works in spring 2020, but unfortunately, the Covid-19 lockdown period meant we were unable to do so. These have now been scheduled in again.

“This week Barnet Homes officers will be attending the property to re-evaluate the external staircase and the resident’s property to ensure it is safe until works can take place.

“We will be repairing the communal staircase and handrail and starting today, will be carrying out a survey on the rainwater pipe using CCTV to ensure there are no issues with water ingress. The pipes will be repaired as required.

“We hope these measures will reassure Mrs Wills and other residents at the property and apologise unreservedly for any distress this may have caused.”