Woman feels ‘suicidal’ in block of flats plagued with damp, mould and vandalism
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A young woman said she feels like she’s in jail as her home is so damp and mouldy ‘mushrooms’ began growing from the ceiling.
Hayley* moved into her flat in February 2022 after accepting an offer from Livv Housing Group in Knowsley. She had recently come out of a violent relationship and was delighted to be regaining her independence.
But two years on her delight has turned to despair as she lives surrounded by damp and mould. She says anti social behaviour has become a daily occurrence, with Hayley claiming to have found both human excrement and rubbish at her flat door. In another bizarre incident, she claims 20 dead wasps were dumped on her front mat.
While Hayley was initially excited at securing a new home, there were still concerns about the type of housing situation she was going into. She said: “I was homeless so when I was offered this place, they said it was either this or I’d have to wait eight months. I had no choice. Before I moved in here, someone said to me that as soon as you move into a block of flats like this, you’ll never get out”.
Mum Sandra* shared her daughter’s reservations. She added: “Hayley’s mental health was extremely bad when she was homeless. Then they offer her this place - high up in a block of flats with a balcony. As a parent, I was terrified of what could happen.”
However, after a period of poor mental health and experiencing homelessness, Hayley’s mum was encouraged with how her daughter adapted to her new life. She said: “Hayley was in a good place, she’d got a new flat, had come off most of her medications and had a little job. She was smashing life. She’d found peace.”
However, after six months of relative stability, Hayley began to experience problems with the flat. The first issue was the discovery of ‘mushroom-like’ growths appearing on the bathroom ceiling.
Hayley claims a representative from Livv Housing told her the waste stack in the building was beyond repair and would need major work. As a result, there were continuing leaks from the ceilings in the living room, kitchen and bathroom.
A short visit to Hayley’s flat confirms some of the problems. As you walk through the front door, you are hit by an immediate and suffocating smell of damp. The ceilings are covered in yellowish cracks and are spotted with black marks while the wind whistles through gaps in the windows, making it difficult to hear anything else.
Sandra details the damage caused by the damp including the total ruin of clothes, decoration, bedding and furniture. She said: “Since the damp everything has got worse. The flat was absolutely destroyed by it. We’ve decorated four times now with every kind of paint you can use for damp. She was constantly getting leaks from upstairs.
“When we reported the damp and the damage to the housing they just told us we should get home insurance.”
The family have also made reports of anti-social behaviour throughout the block which has left Hayley feeling too afraid to leave her flat.
Sandra said: “Over the last couple of weeks, she’s had poo put outside her front door. She’d had 20 dead wasps put on her mat and there’s been bags of dirty rubbish over the front door. The housing said they can’t do anything because Hayley doesn’t know who it is.There’s people taking drugs in the block and we’ve witnessed one guy circle round and then have a poo on the ground.”
Sandra added: “Because of what’s happening around the block with the anti-social behaviour, she won’t go out, but her own four walls are not safe. It’s making her ill”.
Hayley has been in contact with George Howarth MP and is appreciative of the help he has given. Livv Housing has responded to the damp issue by providing an industrial strength dehumidifier. However, Hayley cannot afford to run it and has so far received no financial support.
As well as the mental health impact, Hayley also describes her deteriorating physical health. She said: “I’m not sleeping because of my anxiety around this situation. I’m constantly chesty, constantly got sore eyes. I wake up in the morning and I’ve got a blocked nose.”
According to Hayley, Livv Housing has offered her a temporary or permanent move, but only within the block she currently lives in. However, she says damp issues are a ‘big problem’ across the block.
Sadly, Hayley doesn’t know how things will improve for her. She continued: “It’s like a jail. I don’t feel safe here. I’ve got no way out. It’s made me suicidal. I genuinely believe if I didn’t have my family, I’d of killed myself. The only change is if Livv Housing help me. I deserve a happy, healthy home and I’ve been let down by them.”
Livv Housing responded to some of the claims put forward. A spokesperson said: “We’re committed to maintaining homes of a good standard and responding to our customers’ concerns quickly and effectively.
“We’re aware of Ms Williams’ case and are already taking steps to resolve the issues she has raised, including arranging a transfer to another property. We experienced some challenges gaining access to the home, but following a survey last week, the works are now in progress."
*The name of both the tenant and her mum have been changed.