Flat 'infested with thousands of fleas' forces mother to sleep in car
WATCH: Special report on the families living in 'stressful' and 'disgusting' conditions
A woman has been sleeping in her car after discovering 'thousands of fleas' inside a flat provided by the local council.
Blossom Corbett was given the keys to the two-bedroom property in Ramsgate in October, as temporary accommodation to prevent her and her two children becoming homeless.
But as soon as she entered the flat, she says she discovered fleas all over the floors. "It's not one or two fleas, it’s infested, it’s years of infestation," she told ITV News Meridian.
"When entering the property, there was a horrible smell of damp and then I got attacked by fleas, they were just everywhere. It’s absolutely disgusting. I’ve only stayed there a handful of times because when I did my children were completely bitten [by fleas]."
Blossom says she has been calling Thanet District Council almost every day since she moved in last month, but the fleas remain.
"My children are currently staying with my mum in London, and I’ve been staying with my dad and also sleeping in my car, because it’s cleaner in my car [than the flat].
"It's just horrible because I haven’t put myself in this predicament and to be given something so unsuitable for me and my children is just not on."
WATCH: A video recorded by Blossom Corbett in October appears to show fleas covering her white protective trousers.
A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: "We are unable to comment on specific cases for reasons of confidentiality. However, we have been made aware of an issue at the property in question.
"Our temporary accommodation provider has confirmed that pest control treatment has been carried out in the property, and alternative accommodation is being provided.
"We investigate all complaints received about the quality of temporary accommodation, including visiting the accommodation when necessary to ensure that it is suitable."
It comes a week after an inquest conclusion in Greater Manchester led to fresh national scrutiny of the entire social housing sector.
A coroner concluded that the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale was linked to a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould.
The Housing Secretary, Michael Gove MP, told parliament last week: "Every single person in this country, irrespective of where they're from, what they do or how much they earn, deserves to live in a home that is decent, safe and secure."
Troy Powell moved into a maisonette in Whitstable with his partner and five children in July and quickly discovered a hole in the roof, above his one-year-old son’s bedroom.
Troy told ITV News Meridian: "I put some stuff in the loft and noticed I could see full daylight through the roof and birds nesting. We've had birds flying through the chimney breast coming down into the front room, dampness in [my son's] room, water coming down the wall.
"I’ve told the council and all I get is: 'Oh, we can’t do anything until the birds have gone for our safety'.
"It’s depressing, it’s making my son ill, it’s making my little girl wake up three or four times a night. She goes to nursery tired and then it makes us look like bad parents.
"I think it’s disgusting really. If it was the other way round and I wasn’t paying my rent they’d be on my case, but when I want repairs done, they’re not acknowledging it."
Responding to Mr Powell’s partner Lauren Burford, a Canterbury City Council spokesperson said: "We apologise to Miss Burford for the delays in addressing the issues at her home. It has taken longer than we would expect it to and we are sorry for that.
"Scaffolding is required to carry out the repairs needed to the roof and this is now booked in for 29 November. Other work will also be taking place inside the property.
"We have been in contact with Miss Burford throughout and she is aware of the appointments that are now planned."
In the village of Rolvenden, Chloe Lush has moved out of her council flat after discovering black mould in her bedroom and being unable to stop it from returning.
Chloe told ITV News Meridian: "I pulled the storage heater off the wall and there was just thick black mould behind it. I started noticing I was becoming a bit poorly, I was getting affected with my breathing, my throat was always sore."
Chloe moved back in with her parents when she found out she was expecting her first child. She says she first reported problems to the council in November 2021 but despite some repairs being carried out, problems have persisted.
"If I didn’t have family to be with right now, I would have no choice but to be with my child and terrified that my baby’s going to get sick," Chloe added.
A spokesman for Ashford Borough Council said: "Due to ongoing legal proceedings involving the tenant, the Council is unable to comment on the details of the case, however we can confirm the Council is actively engaging with the tenant’s independent legal representatives".
The chief executive of the Property Care Association, Stephen Hodgson, fears there could be far more problems with mould this winter.
"The cost of living crisis is bound to make things worse. People are anxious about their fuel bills and how much it costs to heat their properties so they’re reining back on the length of time they heat and the temperatures that they’re using.
"Almost inevitably there’s going to be more problems with mould and condensation this winter."
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