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Daily Record
Daily Record
Fraser Clarke

Fed-up West Dunbartonshire Council tenants make 1100 complaints over damp

Fed-up West Dunbartonshire Council tenants have made more than 1,100 complaints about damp and mould in the last year alone.

But one councillor said he fears they are “just the tip of the iceberg”.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Lennox has revealed a total of 1,111 separate complaints about damp and mould issues were reported between June 1, 2022 and June 1, 2023.

Councillor Jim Bollan, of West Dunbartonshire Community Party, has called for damp surveys to be carried out in every council home. He said: “These are shocking figures which I think are only the tip of the iceberg.”

One of those suffering is furious Alexandria mum Leanne Pirrie who says she lives in fear of her kids being harmed by their living conditions.

Leanne contacted the Lennox with videos that show water pouring from light fittings and streaming down the walls of her Hill Street flat.

Councillor Jim Bollan, of West Dunbartonshire Community Party called for damp surveys to be carried out in every council home.

He said: “These are shocking figures which I think are only the tip of the iceberg.

“We need a dampness survey on all our housing properties to understand the extent of the problem and then design a proactive programme to deal with it.

“Fuel poverty will be a huge contributing factor to the dampness.

“Labour promised when the new Energy Centre in Clydebank was built, council houses would be connected to it to tackle fuel poverty, not one house has been connected.

“Instead of spending time and money on vanity projects like the Esso site in Bowling which is £17million over budget, Labour should be concentrating on projects that will enhance the health and well-being of our council tenants.”

The local authority currently has 10,422 properties, equating to a complaint by around one in 10 tenants – though the figures include multiple complaints by the same tenants.

It comes after a survey recently showed that just 73 percent of 600 council residents said they were satisfied with the quality of their homes.

Leanne Pirrie contacted the Lennox after water leaked into her home, with videos showing it streaming down the walls.

She has also noticed mould on walls and says council inspectors advised her to open windows to help deal with the issues.

The mum-of-four feels she has been abandoned by the local authority, and asked ‘would anyone from the council live in a house like this?’

(Lennox Herald)

Leanne, who is a single parent to four youngsters between the ages of nine and 16, said: “The council are saying the mould is because we don’t ventilate properly, but my windows are constantly open.

“I can’t open the windows in my kitchen because of the smell coming from a neighbouring house.

“The water started coming through on Wednesday after the heavy rain.

“My kids are constantly ill, they are coughing a lot.

“I’ve got four kids I’m raising on my own and, personally, I feel like the council don’t care as long as my rent is being paid.

“Mould can kill and I can’t cope living in this hellhole for much longer.

“After the first heavy rain an inspector came out from the council and said they’d paint the ceiling. But that won’t do anything.

“The plasterboard will be soaking, it will be growing mould and it will be becoming weak. What if it collapses when I’m in there cooking or with my weans? And that’s before you think about the damage this could be doing that we can’t see.

“Would the inspectors from the council live in a house like that? Would they cook in a kitchen whilst water is pouring in?”

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “We are sorry this tenant is unhappy and we are providing support and assistance while this is ongoing.

“A report of water ingress was treated as emergency and temporary repairs to prevent further damage to the property were completed within six hours.

“In addition, temporary lighting has now been installed in the kitchen, and roof repairs have been instructed with work due to begin this week.

“We will continue to liaise with the tenant until this has been fully resolved.”

Earlier this year, we also reported how mum Gemma Ewing said three of her young children have been hospitalised because of damp in her Dumbarton home.

Leader of WDC’s SNP opposition, Councillor Karen Conaghan, called on faster action before the issue causes a death.

She said: “Every one of our tenants should have a home that is dry and watertight, and therefore each report of dampness and mould within one of our properties needs to be taken seriously and acted upon promptly.

“The effects of damp are not only unpleasant and unsightly, but more importantly can be extremely damaging to health.

(Lennox Herald)

“As a council West Dunbartonshire has invested in upgrading properties but we need to be very focussed on treating damp and mould, not just because it is our duty as a responsible landlord but ultimately so as to avoid any tragic consequences as we’ve seen elsewhere.”

In response, Labour councillor Gurpreet Singh Johal, housing convenor, said there had been a “dramatic increase” in complaints due to new measures recently introduced.

He said: “Last year, I raised a motion to prioritise repairs related to dampness and mould and leading on from this, the council agreed to review its approach to these issues.

“As a result of my actions we have witnessed a dramatic increase in reporting of dampness from our tenants.

“Some of these are multiple reports for the same property and following investigation a number were rectified and, in some cases, dampness was not the cause of the issues experienced by the tenants.

“However, we have identified 253 properties across the council area and despite our actions, we still have 16 council homes with outstanding issues.”

Also responding to the new figures, vice-convener, Councillor Hazel Sorrell, added: “As a tenant I know how destructive and worrying dampness can be on families. That’s why we have taken action and invested an extra £50m into our housing capital programme over the next five years which will go a long way to improving our homes.

“In addition, the introduction of damp and mould sensors across our homes will ensure that real-time information about what is going on in properties is
fed back to the teams who can then decide on the best course of action.

“These will be installed in priority properties with a view to rolling them out more widely in future.”

Earlier this year the local authority pledged to invest £10m in new sensors, which can track temperature, humidity and

They will initially be installed in around 2000 homes, including sheltered housing, multi storeys and those which have existing damp or mould issues.

Other actions include a revised process for dealing with concerns about damp and mould, which will see inspections carried out a maximum of two days after an issue is raised.

It comes after elected members agreed to review the council’s approach to dampness in council properties following the tragic death of a young child in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, last year who had suffered prolonged exposure to mould, which Councillor Johal labelled “a wake-up call.”

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