Sheffield council housing: Couple told they’re being moved out days before Christmas due to black mould
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Becky Cooke lives with her husband Stefen in a bungalow in Chapeltown, where she says the mould is so bad it left her seriously ill in hospital. She stopped letting her young grandchildren visit as she was worried about the effect on their health, and she had to throw out her wardrobe because it was so mouldy and her clothes were getting ruined.
She says she was told last week that she and her husband were going to be moved out temporarily before Christmas so workers could clear the mould and replaster and paint the property. She said she doesn’t know when she will be able to return but understands it is likely to be after Christmas.
Ms Cooke, who is 48 and is registered disabled due to a number of health conditions including COPD and fibromyalgia, claims the damp and mould first became a serious problem in the early autumn. She said Sheffield Council had initially blamed a fault with the roof, which it told her was going to be repaired. However, she said it was only in the last few weeks that the council had further investigated the issue and discovered it was actually down to a problem with the insulation in the walls, which council workers assured her would now be rectified.
“I’m glad they’re finally doing something but I’m frustrated it’s taken so long and that I now have to move out just before Christmas,” said Ms Cooke. “I was admitted to hospital about eight weeks ago and put on oxygen. All 24 years of me being asthmatic, I’d never been admitted to hospital before for my asthma, and I believe I ended up there because of the mould in our house. I won’t let my grandchildren visit anymore because It’s bad enough for my chest so what’s it going to be like for a two-year-old?”
Ms Cooke said she is also unhappy that the council has refused to replace the furniture or carpets which have been ruined, as it says the damage should be covered by home insurance, for which it has told her she is responsible.
She said she was still waiting to hear exactly when she would be moved and where the temporary property would be but that she had been advised she would be out before Christmas so work can begin as soon as possible. She has also not been told how long it will be before she and her husband can return home, she said.
Tom Smith, Sheffield Council’s director of direct services, said in a statement issued last week: “We are doing our best for our tenant by taking action to try and identify a permanent solution for her. We’ve investigated the problem and a specialist survey is taking place this week. We have looked at the roof and no specific issues have been found. We will continue to monitor the situation at the property.”