Michelle Bromley is convinced the rising damp in her family home, on Warley Road, is responsible for her grandson’s illness.
The baby boy had to be hospitalised with respiratory syncytial virus and broncholitis – a condition that is thought to be exacerbated by breathing in mold spores.
But her family’s living situation became ‘much worse’ when workmen started a damp course in her kitchen/diner – only to discover more work needed to be carried out.
‘We have to cook on the landing’
During a mediation session with Blackpool Council’s Housing Enforcement Team, the letting agent promised the job, would take ‘no longer than five days’, so Mrs Bromley agreed that the family could put up with the disruption for that length of time.
But 24 days since the work began, the former beautician says the kitchen/diner is uninhabitable.
Now Mrs Bromley and her two daughters, aged 18 and 21, have ‘no option’ but to cook on the upstairs landing, while the front entrance is partially blocked by kitchen appliances.
Since the job started on Aug 21, the family has been cooking quick and simple meals using a halogen oven and microwave, positioned on folding tables outside the WC on her landing.
Mrs Bromley told Blackpool Gazette: "It’s a fire hazard. I’ve got to climb under wires to access the toilet, which is dangerous. It’s not really hygienic cooking near a toilet either.”
More issues were identified while the damp course was being carried out, as the tradespeople found water penetration coming through one of the walls.
Dust could harm sick grandson
But the grandma-of-three says using the kitchen isn’t an option, as the dust could potentially harm her grandchild who is prone to chest infections.
She added: “It’s been three weeks and we don’t have any correspondence about what’s going to happen.”
READ MORE: Blackpool mold and damp expert shares top tips to avoid damage to your home if you can’t afford to heat it.
Mrs Bromley says they have lived with the damp conditions since they moved to the address 8 years ago.
Furniture ruined by mold
Although the landlord has gradually made improvements to the building, she says the problems with rising damp and mold have persisted.
"We still have water leaking from the shower into the lounge. I had the house looking lovely, I have spent a lot of money on getting nice furniture and it’s been ruined by the mold.”
What did the lettings agent say?
Coles Property Management argue that they have spent over 25k on the property since the tenant moved in.
Stephen Coles, the company director, told Blackpool Gazette: “There is an ongoing programme of works at the property working along side BBC, and conforming to their schedule, there is only 1 Schedule of works issued, that we working on, that relates to some minor damp work required in the property.
The damp course in the rear room was completed within five days, on the day works started more works were identified, and the tenant was informed these would have to be booked in on a later date due to contractors schedule (but wouldn't affect use of kitchen).
The Tenant can use the kitchen there is nothing stopping her using kitchen, we have done everything in a timely manner but due to other influences (not from our side) works have been continually delayed.
We have always attended to works as and when needed, but have been faced with a lot of obstruction from the tenant again all documented."
READ MORE: Blackpool woman with debilitating illness caused by mold says her life was ‘stripped away’ from her.
What did Blackpool Council say?
A Blackpool Council Spokesperson, said: “The Housing Enforcement team is involved with this property. The landlord has recently undertaken remedial work to deal with the issues at the property and the Housing Enforcement team has stepped in to mediate between both parties.”
What are the health risks of damp and mold?
Babies and young children, the elderly and those with allergies and asthma are likely to suffer averse reactions to mold.
For those with allergies, breathing in or touching mold spores can cause severe reactions, including asthma attacks, fever and shortness of breath, while for others, mold can bring on a runny nose, red or itchy eyes and irritated skin.
How can mold and damp affect my property?
It will initially affect walls, ceilings, bedding, clothes, furniture and carpets, as well as producing musty smells and damp conditions.
But, over time, it can lead to more serious problems.
Andrew Bradshaw, co-founder and partner at RTC said: “Properties will suffer, start to deteriorate and cause the owners and tenants even more financial implications.
“Furthermore, the risk to health that damp conditions can cause should not be ignored, especially with the very young, old and vulnerable.”
These are Mr Bradshaw’s top tips for reducing mold and damp in the home.