Colne family’s mould misery

FED UP: Helen Davidson in her Duke Street rented property (S)
FED UP: Helen Davidson in her Duke Street rented property (S)

A Colne resident has reported a deterioration in her family’s health after their rented property began “to fall apart” around them.

Helen Davidson is said to have been left miserable after the house she lives in with her husband Gary and his teenage son Jordan began to become damp and covered in mould.

She said she has approached the private landlord to the Duke Street property since Autumn last year, and that she has now gone to Pendle Council’s housing standards team for help.

But following her call she said she was informed it would take two to three months before she could be given any assistance - by which point, she says, it will be darker, colder and the problems will only have worsened.

She says that there is currently visible mould in three of the five rooms in the house, and that there is visible water damage in one. Among other problems, it is said to be a huge crack in one of the bedrooms, plaster falling off some of the walls, and electrical faults upstairs.

The 39-year-old said: “It is affecting our health now - it is mentally draining thinking ‘what are we going to come home to this time?’.

“At first it was little things like light switches not working, and kitchen cupboards falling off.

“I have rhinitis, which I already suffered from before this, but it is making it so much worse. I sit in bed and sneeze constantly, my husband has started getting blocked up, and Jordan has started coughing.

“I have had to throw away clothes, and I have just discovered another pair of boots, with mould on them.

“We are paying £400 a month, to have our house fall apart around us.”

Helen said that she has now been looking at other properties in the area but that fees are “astronomical”.

The landlord to the Duke Street property declined to comment.

But Pendle Council’s private sector housing manager Paul Lloyd said: “We can and do offer support to tenants living in privately rented properties with poor conditions, particularly where they impact on tenants’ health.

“When the tenants contact us for help, our environmental health officers carry out inspections of privately rented properties. They assess what work needs to be done to bring each property up to a decent standard and write to the landlord asking them to do the work.

“If they don’t make improvements within their property, we can take formal action under the Housing Act giving the landlord a date by which they must complete the work. If the work still isn’t done, we can prosecute the landlord for non-compliance. In some cases, the Council will arrange for the work to be done and claim the costs back from the landlord.”

Mr Lloyd added that Pendle Council’s Housing Standards team is currently working on a backlog of calls from tenants living in private rented properties with poor conditions. With limited staff resources – due to their current financial situation and maternity leave – there is a waiting list for support from the team.