eEverywhere you look in Paige Whyte’s flat, you can find mold. It extends into the bathroom and surrounds the skirting board of her bedroom and corridor. Slowly but surely, it’s infecting everything: bags, clothes, toys, even his tattoo equipment. Her bed is so badly infested with mold that the gray fabric of the headboard has just turned green.

The problem has gotten so bad that she switched rooms with her young son so he wouldn’t be exposed to spores in one part of the house.

“I usually clean it, then I have to repaint the house [and use] mold solution — but it only stops it for two more weeks,” she said. “The cost of it is crippling.”

After living in the building for 6 years, she has stopped receiving assistance from the council. “We had someone from the council come and inspect the house, and she said, because I live on the outside corner of the building, this is something I should have lived in, the way the building was built,” she said.

White’s case is by no means isolated. At Mansfield Court in East London, owned by Hackney Council supervisor Met and spoke with tenants in more than half of the 25 flats in the block. Each of them reported mold and damp in their flats. Two tenants have developed chronic lung conditions that they believe were exacerbated by the building’s conditions.

Damp, damp, dilapidated homes are a nationwide problem; Last month, the Housing Ombudsman said the number of complaints from social-housing tenants in England about damp and leaks had more than doubled for last year compared to 2020/21. But Mansfield Court is one of the worst examples of building-wide decay and dilapidation. supervisor found

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In some flats, almost entire walls or ceilings are completely blackened with mold. In others, it snakes around skirting boards and behind cupboards and sofas, taking over tenants’ curtains, clothes and sometimes entire beds, while sickening many, including young children, for days at a time. Most of the residents claimed that they did not get any help from the council.

“It feels like the infection has taken over your home,” White says. “It’s like it’s not yours anymore—the mold owns it.”

The building also shows signs of extreme dilapidation. Concrete is crumbling and communal corridors are covered in yellow-white stalactites, some up to 8 inches long, that hang from sewage pipes that run along the roof.

Many locals have also said that there is a frequent problem with the stench of waste coming out of the pipe.

When Dede, another resident, visited her family, she made sure not to eat there before coming home. Inside her flat, she says, the constant stench of garbage would make her vomit. It took years for the council to decide on a solution to the problem during the pandemic.

The smell was at the top of a long list of problems for Dede over the years – including leaky pipes, cracked ceilings and walls filled with damp and mould, she believes have seriously affected her health. “Between the ages of 14 and 34, I probably had two inhalers. And since I’ve been here, I now have COPD. [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]emphysema and acute asthma,” she said supervisor.

When we spoke to Dede, she had started the process of taking the council to court over the dilapidation of her flat.

Similarly, his neighbour, Max, has taken the council to court after being diagnosed with an incurable lung disease that his doctors have warned may have been caused or exacerbated by old mold and dampness in his flat.

Mansfield Court resident Max, who has terminal lung disease, shows a picture of old mold in his kitchen before treatment. Photo: Sophia Evans / The Observer

Two floors down from Max’s flat, said Valerie, another tenant supervisor He has to empty a dehumidifier in his flat every three hours to keep the mold moist. “Now every Sunday we have to clean the house thoroughly for two hours. I have to wear two masks to deal with the smoke because of my allergies,” she said. Within a week, she said, black spots began to cover the walls forever. And every month it spreads to many rooms of the house.

Now that another resident, Laura Oakley’s flat has mold and damp spreading through the ceiling and kitchen, she says she and her family try to spend as much time outside as possible.

But this is only part of the problems the private tenant has had since he moved into his flat two years ago – leaking pipes in the kitchen, the stench of rubbish in the flat and an infestation of silverfish in the bedroom. types of insects that thrive in moist and humid environments) are among others, she claims.

“I’m afraid it will affect my family’s health,” she says. “We have a really good landlord and he looks after the flat. But there is a problem in building construction. And at that point you hit a wall. “

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Some of the building’s problems have been solved over the years. For example, Dede and other tenants said the smell improved in some flats after the council decided last year to flush the building’s sewer pipes in response to complaints. Tenants claim to have complained before.

Ceiling with patches of black mold and spores in the corner of the room above the window
Black mold and spores in Mansfield Court flat. Photo: Andrew Kearsley / The Observer

Most of the residents we spoke to said that when they approached the council for assistance they were often faced with a long waiting list before basic works could be completed. Others seeking alternative council housing were told they would face multi-year waiting lists before they could move.

“The whole process feels like it’s designed to drive you crazy,” Max said.

A Hackney Council spokesman said: “Our tenants deserve safe, secure and warm homes, and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide them.

“We have carried out several surveys, including this week of Mansfield Court, which have shown that while there is some external repair required, the block is safe.”

The council claimed it had received only a handful of reports of damp and mold in the building from any of the residents mentioned in the piece over the past two years, but said its records may be incomplete due to complications from the cyber attack. In 2020.

The council stressed that “damp and mold is a widespread problem faced by social and private landlords across the country”.

The spokesman added that the council is now committed to tackling all damp and mold problems in Hackney within five working days, prioritizing the most serious cases and those most affected, supported by an additional investment of £1m across all housing.

They also said the council would visit the building over the next few weeks to talk to tenants and address the mould, damp and decay issues they are facing and would “provide support and guidance to families on practical steps to help prevent problems from recurring.”

After that supervisor Reached for comment, the council said it contacted Dede and agreed with him to drop his potential case in order to carry out important maintenance works on his flat.

Housing ombudsman Richard Blakeway said the issue of old mold in England still “has not received priority or urgency from social landlords”, while housing charity Shelter has warned that “private rents are still lagging behind” the proposed changes. In the social housing sector.


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