An investigation has been launched after an elderly council tenant died while a couple spent months in a hostel awaiting routine renovations to their house.

Wilbo Edwards, 73, was found dead near his temporary accommodation Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath on July 15, two months after being forced to move with wife Beverley as Croydon Council fixed a damp problem in their Upper Norwood home.

The "inseparable" couple, who had been married 50 years and have four children, were told the work – which has still not been finished - would take six weeks.

Mr Edwards's family believe the stress of being left languishing in the Stonebridge Lodge bed-and-breakfast hostel – where he struggled to climb the stairs - contributed to his sudden death.

The grandfather-of-ten, who suffered high blood pressure, had been depressed about their housing problems and was drinking heavily in the weeks before he died, when he blacked out and fell off a garden wall.

A post-mortem concluded the retired taxi driver and security guard died of natural causes.

His family only learned of his death when they reported him missing the next day as police did not know Mrs Edwards, 72, was in temporary accommodation.

Mrs Edwards, still recovering from a kidney transplant in January and requiring twice weekly hospital visits, was then evicted from the hostel after her husband's funeral and found her anti-rejection medication had been taken and put into storage.

Son Colin, 38, of South Norwood, said: "So many mistakes have been made already, this is just the worst thing that could have happened.

"My parents were relocated to Stonebridge Lodge as the only alternative given was Camden in North London, which is too far away from family, friends, hospital and the doctor.

"Upon visiting I was quite shocked to see that they had placed my parents in this hovel as the council were well aware that both of my parents have health problems.

"The times I visited the property it was overrun with people of all ages who appeard to be dysfunctional who were smoking, drinking, swearing and making noise and on many occasions I witnessed people smoking drugs outside. My parents informed me this would go on until  the early hours of the morning."

He added: "My parents loved spending time with their family, especially their grandchildren, but none of us could take our children to visit them at Stonebridge Lodge as it is not a suitable place for children to visit. This left my father deeply saddened."

Mrs Edwards spent two weeks living with family members after her husband's death until she felt strong enough to live alone. 

She continued paying her rent at Stonebridge Lodge, returning only to collect medication on August 1. But she found herself barred from the hostel when she returned to move back in on August 4. 

Croydon Guardian:

'Unsuitable': Stonebridge Lodge in Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath

Mrs Edwards said: "To go back to your house after your husband has died and found that they have been through all your stuff, packed it up and put it in storage, it is not very nice. I really felt degraded. It was terrible.

"We buried him on the Thursday [July 31] and they knew that he died, so I don't know why they did it. I have had no explanation or anything." 

Croydon Council is investigating and has relocated Mrs Edwards to an alternative hostel in Selhurst, but her flat remains uninhabitable 14 weeks after she vacated it.

Her current room has no toilet, meaning she must share with other residents despite having kidney problems.

Mrs Edwards, said: "At first they said it would be ready in six weeks, then it went to eight, then it was three months, and it has gone over that now.

"I think it might have added to [Wilbo's death]. He started doing things he wouldn't do, like staying out the front of the building until 4am with the other residents, drinking and smoking with them. He was very friendly, would talk to anybody."

Colin, who donated his kidney to his mother, said: "I hold Croydon Council accountable for the terrible situation and lack of care which may have led to my father’s death.

"If my parents had been sent back into the permanent address in the timeframe promised we wouldn't have had to wait 24 hours to find out my father had died or maybe he'd even still be with us today."

He added: "I feel that my mother and many others are being let down by the system.

"Unlike the majority of people in temporary housing, my mother has a home, however, due to failures in managing the works she is subject to living in substandard accommodation for a prolonged period of time and this is having a detrimental impact on her physical and mental health.

"Vulnerable people like my father are not receiving the support they need."

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "We were sorry to hear of the death of Mr Edwards' father. Mr Edwards can be assured that a full and comprehensive investigation will be carried out into all of the issues he has raised.

"This will advise on any lessons that can be learnt and if necessary, make recommendations on change in procedure.

"We had originally arranged for work to be done to address damp at their council property. However it soon emerged that further work was necessary, which would take longer to complete.

"We also took the opportunity to bring the property up to Decent Homes standards, which involved a complete overhaul of the kitchen and bathroom. The property is due to be ready at the end of the month.”