Northampton family will withhold rent until housing association helps with black mould in their house
A mum and dad in Northampton are pleading with Stonewater housing association to treat the mould in their house for the health of their family.
Rachel Terry-Finch and Chris Finch have been living in their two-bedroom property in Blackthorn since March last year with their three girls, aged two, six and seven.
But since they moved in, the living room, their bedroom and the girls' bedroom, have been cold and damp and they have noticed black mould spreading into their home.
The family-of-five have taken to sleeping on their living room floor, wrapped up in warm quilts, to avoid the conditions upstairs, but they say that this is unfair on the girls who need a good night's rest for school.
Rachel, who said the conditions were not noticeable when they viewed the house, said: "We have got rid of two single divan beds in their room already, I would not let an animal live like it.
"Why should I have to sleep in a living room when there's a bedroom upstairs?"
Rachel says the conditions of the bedrooms have made the girls poorly with chesty coughs and they have had to have some time off during this school term to recover.
Chris gets up at dawn to go to work as a delivery driver. He said: "We are sleeping downstairs. It's not fair on the kids, It disturbs them because I get up and go out at four every morning.
"The school are noticing how the girls are going in tired.
"We make them as comfy as we can with the tools that we have got."
Although the couple have tried to treat the mould themselves they say the responsibility should not rest on their shoulders and would like Stonewater to give them a helping hand.
After asking for help directly, the pair said it was their last resort to ask this newspaper for help.
Chris added: "It's not our responsibility to treat it. It's cost us a fortune already.
"We have treated it two times but it keeps coming back you need proper industrial stuff."
Stonewater has given Rachel and Chris recommendations to prevent the mould but the couple say they want it treated or they will not pay their rent until the situation has been resolved.
Recommendations include pulling the beds away from the external walls, making sure the shower room door is closed, and using the central heating system throughout the day.
Rachel said: "I could go and pay in full but I am not as I have been waiting over a year for this to be sorted.
"I do not agree with pulling my children's beds away from the wall because they can't be bothered to do their job properly.
"We always close our door when showering...and to leave my heating on in the day? Are they going to pay the electric bill? I would be wasting money on heaters that don't heat the home up properly, or enough."
Paul Crow, assistant director at Stonewater housing association, said: "We are sorry that there is mould present in Mrs Terry-Finch’s property, and we are working with the family to remove the existing mould and to advise them how to avoid its reoccurrence.
"An appointment was arranged for one of our surveyors to visit the property on 22 January, 2019 to ascertain whether the mould was as a result of the three possible causes; the property not being water tight, an internal leak or inadequate heating and ventilation causing condensation.
The surveyor explained to Mrs Terry-Finch that the mould was as a result of condensation.
THe added: "We have instructed one of our contractors to treat the mould in the property, this work will be completed before April 22.
"Our surveyor felt that the tumble dryer wasn’t a major contributor but would recommend having the extractor fan on in the kitchen when it is in use.
"He has also arranged for insulation to be added to the back of the loft hatch door and all the loft insulation to be checked to ensure it was still correctly in place right up to the eaves to maximise its benefit."