Inside 'disgusting' flats where thick black mould covers walls and ceiling 'fell in'

By Sam Elliott-Gibbs

Residents of a city centre apartment block have laid bare the 'disgusting' conditions they claim they have endured for years.

Some have shared grim photos showing including horrific cases of mould growth at Windsor House in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

They typically pay £575 to £600 per month in rent to live in the property.

The conditions have shocked city councillors, who say the housing is among the worst they have ever seen.

In one set of photos, black mould covers a bathroom's walls and toilet an images that underlines the terrible state of the homes.

Leah Hardwick with her daughter, Ayra, 5, are sick of living in such terrible conditions (Portsmouth News/Solent News)

The lock to the main entrance is said to be broken and so inside are walkways littered with rubbish and needles from drug taking, and often drug users and rough sleepers are found sheltering in the communal corridors.

Some flats are beset with leaks and damp problems leading to horrific black mould growths.

Resident Ian Knight who is registered as disabled after an infection in April required part of his left foot to be amputated, has battled mould and damp for more than six years.

But due to his months-long hospital stays and his on-going mobility issues, the mould has taken over the 38 year old's bathroom.

Residents have had enough and shared photos of their accommodation (Portsmouth News/Solent News)

The resident of more than 12 years said: "I have tried to clean it with mould killer but it's not even a week before it grows back.

'I've never been able to get hold of my landlord - none of the numbers I was provided ever worked."

Ray Batson, a HGV driver and a former Royal Marine who served for more than eight years, said his flat seemed 'fine' when he moved in three years ago but black mould now covers his bedroom wall and part of the room's ceiling has collapsed.

Pointing to the streaks of mould and damp, the 43-year-old, who pays £586 a month, said: "I cleared it three days ago.

One renter says he just can't get hold of the Windsor House landlord (Portsmouth News/Solent News)

Five minutes after I cleared it, water was running down the wall again.

"You cannot put anything against that wall. The roof fell down at the end of July. I was sleeping and had my little boy with me - it scared the hell out of me.

"I told (my letting agent) Leaders about this as soon as it happened.

"I don't feel safe here. It's horrible. In this day and age, we shouldn't live like this."

The terrible conditions have shocked city councillors (Portsmouth News/Solent News)

Kim Lidbury, director of property management at Leaders, said the firm was sorry to hear about the maintenance issues, will help to find alternative accommodation if suitable, and will continue to work with the building's owner.

Leah Hardwick, a 30-year-old self-employed cleaner, has also endured leaks, damp, and a collapsed ceiling, causing her to throw out several items of furniture.

The mother-of-one said: "This place is in total disrepair. The flats are full of damp and mould.

"I don't want to come home half the time. Sometimes I take my little girl out for walks to avoid coming home.

"I got in touch with my letting agent (MYA) last year because my ceiling fell down. They did replace it after several months after they tired to get hold of the freeholder.'

Leah pays £575 a month in rent which she claims is unreasonable given the state of the building.

Residents said various issues - from low income to an inability to find guarantors - means they have struggled to find different accommodation.

Kings Estates, which manages some of the flats in the block, said Mr Hyatt is looking to discuss the issues with councillors representing the residents at Portsmouth City Council.

Councillor Cal Corkery added: "What we found when we visited tenants at Windsor House was some of the poorest quality housing we've ever seen.

"Everybody has the right to a decent, safe home and nobody should have to put up with such neglect."

One resident has been forced to throw out several items of furniture due to the damage (Portsmouth News/Solent News)

Portsmouth City Council has the power to issue notices demanding private landlords make repairs by a certain date - or have the council undertake the work and bill the responsible building owner.

Cllr Darren Sanders, the council's lead for housing and preventing homelessness, said: "Several private tenants at the building have got in touch with our private sector housing team recently and we've been investigating their cases, liaising with their landlords or the managing agents when necessary.

"It's become clear that other tenants, although they may not have contacted us, are also experiencing serious problems.

'We've arranged a visit to the building. Council officers and senior managers will inspect communal areas and a number of flats."

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan is calling on nationwide changes to protect renters and tenants following several visits to Windsor House.

The MP said: "The dire situation residents in Windsor House find themselves in is awful. This week I've written to the freeholder directly to urgently address residents' concerns."


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.