A mum-of-four stuck in a “disgusting” council house has described the hell of living in a property with severe damp and crumbling walls.
Sahara Thompson, 34, who lives in the three-bedroom house in Birmingham with her four daughters aged 15, 11, nine and seven, claims problems with mould have not been fixed for several years.
The family has lived there since 2006, but first noticed problems at the start of 2016, Birmingham Live reports.
Ms Thompson said: “I wasn’t aware of it at first, how I found out was when I painted.
“I painted the living room and the paint fell off the wall. Then the paint in the kitchen fell off and then the radiator fell off because the wall was wet.
“Then they took off the extractor fan and there was a leak behind there.
“That was in 2016 but no one has fixed it since then.”
One wall of the kitchen is badly affected by the wet, with the brickwork exposed by the crumbling plaster. Another wall in the living room is also in a bad state.
Ms Thompson believes that damp caused by the leak may be spreading across the house.
“The damp is travelling around the house, it’s moving upstairs now”, she said.
The source of the leak has never been discovered, so water is continuing to leak through the wall and cause greater damage, including to the electrics in the house.
“A light wall exploded because it was so wet”, said Sahara.
The damp conditions are particularly bad for Ms Thompson’s partner Kimran, who suffers from asthma.
One of her daughters also has eczema which she claims is worsened by the damp.
The council has attempted to repair the damage caused by the water, but Ms Thompson claims it has not got to the bottom of the cause of the leak.
“I’ve gone backwards and forwards with them. They said they were coming out so I’ve taken time off work, then no-one comes out”, she said.
“The council come round randomly with no warning at 8 o’clock in the morning when I’m trying to get my kids ready for school.”
Ms Thompson has also appealed to her MP Preet Gill, and the previous MP Gisela Stuart.
“When it was so cold recently I wrote again to the MP because it was freezing in the house with the radiator that fell off the wall”, said Ms Thompson.
“The council said they would bring fan heaters over. They promised they would bring them over on the 20th March but they still haven’t brought them.”
Ms Thompson has also turned to lawyers to try to force the council with legal measures to fix the problem.
Mark Montaldo, of Cobleys Solicitors Ltd, which is representing Sahara and her family, said: “This is something we see everyday how people in council housing and housing association are having to live.”
Mr Montaldo estimates that it would cost £2,500 to fix the damage. He is trying to get Birmingham City Council to pay for this, and to give compensation to the family for not acting faster.
He added: “Residents are told the problems are cosmetic or don’t fall into the tenancy agreement. Councils try to fob them off, they turn up when they’re not there.
“This is one case study but we could give you hundreds.”
The situation in the house is affecting the wellbeing of the family.
“I’m just stuck in this mess – it’s disgusting”, said Ms Thompson.
“I’m too embarrassed and too ashamed to invite friends or family over.
“I have no social life.”
The council said that works will now be done to the property, but Ms Thompson and her family may be liable to pay for them.
“The property has been inspected by a surveyor a schedule of works has been agreed. This involves repairing the damp affected plaster and mould treatment”, said a spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council.
“However, it is clear that a large proportion of the disrepair has been caused by the residents of the property, such as damage to wall plaster due to the removal of wall tiles, damaged glazing and the removal of the extractor fan within the kitchen.
“These works mentioned will be completed but will fall within the rechargeable repairs policy of Birmingham City Council.”