Family trapped in flat ‘riddled with mould and damp crawling across the walls’

A family say they are living in a lockdown nightmare as they struggle with mould crawling the walls of their flat.

Mum-of-three Lucie Loram-Martin says her home is so riddled with mould and damp that it’s affecting her mental health and upsetting her three kids.

“It’s just depressing,” the Plymouth mum said.

“It’s a really badly-maintained flat, it’s riddled with mould and damp and the kids’ stuff is getting ruined,” she told Plymouth Live.

“We have reported this to the housing association on many occasions and the only answer we seem to get [from them] is that it’s condensation.

Yet Willow Tree Housing Partnership says it is helping Lucie and her partner Mollie Dring and are encouraging them to better ventilate their home at Holman Court in Penncyross.

However, Lucie doesn’t think she’s had the support she needs.

“They [the housing association] have come out to the flat and removed tiles from the roof, but didn’t give me an explanation to what was done,” she said.

“There’s mould and damp in the front room, the bathroom, all the bedrooms and the kitchen.”

Lucie says two of her children have asthma and her third child has learning difficulties, making the current situation at home extra stressful for them.

“My 14-year-old’s room is full of water marks and damp, the wardrobe is green and mouldy and my 10-year-old’s bed is mouldy,” Lucie said. “Why should we have to live like this?”

Willow Tree Housing – formerly Tamar Housing – has pledged to sort out the problem.

But officials say the couple can take steps to resolve the issue.

Stuart Francis-Dubois, operations director for Willow Tree Housing Partnership, said the Partnership carried out a damp survey of Lucie’s home last year and did not note any penetrating damp at the property.

But there was evidence of “some black spot moulds” in a number of rooms, believed to be caused by a lack of heating and ventilation.

The full statement from Mr Francis-Dubois says: “Willow Tree Housing Partnership commissioned a damp survey of this property [on Holman Court, Pennycross] in January 2020, when it was noted that the storage heaters provided were not being used properly.

“No penetrating damp was noted in the report, though evidence of some black spot moulds were noted in a number of rooms. Mould spots such as these are indicative of atmospheric dampness/condensation and should be controlled by increased levels of heat and ventilation.”

He added: “The following is an extract from the report: ‘We feel the property is suffering from atmospheric moisture (condensation) due to lack of sufficient heat and ventilation. These levels should be increased and the black spot moulds removed with a mould remover and dry cloth.’

“Willow Tree has also carried out work to insulate the roof space further to alleviate the problems with condensation.

“Our contractors revisited the property in December 2020 when, again, the storage heaters were turned off. The lack of heating will cause the relative humidity to reach 100%, known as the ‘dew point’ temperature which is where the air becomes ‘saturated’. This will cause black mould to form.

“Willow Tree will be contacting the tenant again to provide advice about the use of the heating system and to offer financial advice so that the tenant can afford to run the heating at an appropriate level.”