Sheffield Council tenant at 'breaking point' over mouldy flat

A mother from Sheffield says her mental health is at "breaking point" after waiting more than three years for work to improve her mould-riddled council flat.

Lauren Boyle, 24, has repeatedly had to take her three-year-old son, who has chronic asthma, to hospital for treatment because of the condition of their home in the Longley area.

She and her son – whose name she has asked not to be published – have resorted to sleeping on a mattress in the living room because it is the only room unaffected by mould.

Lauren Boyle says the way the council has treated her is "disgusting"

Last December a child care officer working for Sheffield City Council raised concerns about their living conditions, saying in a letter to the authority that "the smell of damp is very strong and overpowering".

The officer called for them to be made a priority for rehousing "on the grounds of the long-term health, physical and developmental impacts ... and the impact that this is having on Lauren's mental health."

But, eight months later, the situation remains unchanged. Miss Boyle said: "My depression has hit breaking point. With how down it's getting me I have now been referred to counselling to try and help me."

Two bedrooms in Lauren's flat have become uninhabitable because of mould and damp

Miss Boyle moved into the flat in 2018 and noticed the problems getting worse a year later. Since then she has been in touch with Sheffield City Council several times.

She now keeps clothes in bin liners because the wardrobes are also mouldy.

Miss Boyle said her main concern is her son.

"I'm scared that he's going to end up seriously ill and he'll end up in hospital for a long time," she said.

She said she lost her job with a retailer because she had to look after her son.

Lauren says the mould in her council flat has driven her to 'breaking point'

She said: "I've given them numerous chances, I've handed supporting letters in, I've been to my local MP, I've been to my local councillor, I've spoken to Shelter, I've rung social services on myself. I've spoken to near enough everyone I can think of.

"I think it's disgusting. If I was in their shoes and I had a case like this, my concern would be that child's health, because if anything was to happen to him and I'd not reported it, they'd be looking at me."

The walls, ceiling, furniture, and items of clothing are affected by the mould and damp

The Sheffield MP Clive Betts, who does not represent Miss Boyle's constituency but is chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, said: "I recently chaired a parliamentary inquiry into conditions in social housing and we were particularly concerned about some really bad cases of mould and dampness that we were informed about.

"ITV news did a lot of work on this as we posted in our report. It is clear that some councils and housing associations are not dealing with complaints of dampness in a timely and proper manner. Too often the tenant is blamed when it is a fault with the property which the landlord should put right."

Lauren is having to keep her and Mason's clothes in bin bags because the mould has affected the flat's wardrobes

Tom Smith, director of direct services at Sheffield City Council, said: "We are aware of ongoing condensation issues and have carried out works to remove damp and mould.

"We recommended further specialist preventative work in March and would like access to the property to do this. We are contacting the tenant again today to arrange a convenient time to complete this work."

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