Mum living in council flat with mould that has destroyed furniture fears for children’s safety

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Vulnerable tenants are worried about their well-being and the safety of their children as they continue to be housed in mouldy council flats, despite frequent complaints to the local authority.

Hannah-Jayne Holmes, a young mum of two, claims the mould in her home in Fisher Close, Addiscombe, became so bad she had to throw away two brand new children’s beds.

Despite this, she claims a response she received from a council officer was they had “seen worse”. According to the residents, the mould is only the latest issue with the council flats.

In response to Holmes complaints about the mould, the council told her “they’ve seen worse” (Picture: Hannah-Jayne Holmes)

Ms Holmes said: “There is mould and damp everywhere in the flat, it is covered. I share the flat with my two children, my 12-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. My daughter has developed asthma since moving into this flat. I’ve told the council this as well, and they won’t listen.

“It’s beyond a joke, especially when it comes to my children’s health. I’ve already had to throw away both my son and daughter’s beds because they were covered in mould. I’ve told them so many times. I’m talking to them until I’m blue in the face.”

She moved into the home last year and claims despite the constant reassurance from her dedicated housing officer, the council’s contractor repair team have failed to address the mould issue.

She said: “When I messaged them they said, ‘I’ve seen worse’ and ‘it can be cleaned off’. How can you say it’s not that bad?”

Ms Holmes’s neighbour and fellow council tenant, Lee Sparkes, claims he’s also been affected by a mould issue in his flat.

He said: “In buildings that are privately rented, all the damp proofing is already done but for people like me and Hannah who can’t work they don’t do any of the work at all. Every time you call, they don’t take appropriate action. I should be on a class A priority list because of my disability.”

Mr Sparkes also claimed his flat had been flooded after a plumbing issue rerouted up the upstairs flat’s waste water through his kitchen sink. Whenever residents upstairs took a shower or flushed the toilet, waste water would surge up through the sink basin and flood his newly furnished kitchen.

Mr Sparkes, who has autism and is disabled, has lived on his flat for the past five years, said: “It happened on November 15, and Wates [the council’s repair contractor] didn’t turn up till November 17.  Nearly two days later. They tried to blast the pipe, but that didn’t work. Over the weekend, they got wet wipes out of the drain. The wet wipes were from a blockage in the flat above.

“The flooring has been damaged beyond repair and there are loads of soaking clothes. This is a new kitchen, it’s only two years old.  I haven’t been happy, it’s disgraceful, and they have a habit of fobbing you off.”

In waiting for the repair, Lee has missed a number of important hospital appointments for his long-running injuries which he suffered after falling down a set of stairs.

While Mr Sparkes’ pipes were eventually fixed by Wates, on November 24, Hannah-Jayne says that her adjoining flat continues to be affected.

A Wates spokesman said: “Our team carried out work to clear the blockage and repair the waste pipe in Mr Sparkes’ home and restored the sink to full working order.”

“While this repair was completed within our contractual time period as agreed with Croydon council, we are taking steps to help reduce the time taken for repairs where possible. Our team is also carrying out work at a neighbouring property also affected by the leak.”

Croydon council was approached for comment but did not provide it in time for publication.

Pictured top: Hannah-Jayne Holmes with her twelve year old son Nathan holmes and two year old daughter Lilly Rae Holmes, and the mould in Holmes flat that has ruined her walls and furniture (Picture: Hannah-Jayne Holmes)

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