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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Anthony France

Mould-ridden flat is going to kill me and my baby, says Clapham mother

A mother-of-two with a lung condition said she is terrified mould in her south London flat will kill her and her baby.

Stacey Coveley, 37, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, claims she has complained to Lambeth Council about the state of her Clapham property since 2021.

Ms Coveley fears 14-month-old daughter Shay could become a victim just like tragic two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died in 2020 by prolonged exposure to mould at his housing association flat.

She has already been forced to remove six-year-old son Alfie from their home after he was repeatedly hospitalised with a string of undiagnosed fits and respiratory infections.

Lambeth admitted the service it had provided to Ms Coveley was “not up to standard” and apologised for the “distress caused by these failings”.

Despite attempts at repairs, the council still haven’t said when, or if, the family might be rehoused.

Ms Coveley told the Standard: “What will it take for them to finally listen to me?

“I have been constantly wheezing with chest infections while Alfie has suffered respiratory infections and fits.

“I was forced to move him out of his own home to stay with my sister just to keep him alive. Now he can’t even visit as when he does he gets sick. I am so worried about the baby as she has no option but to remain with me.”

The cleaner said she sleeps on a sofa because of mould in her bedroom, food cannot be kept in cupboards and many of her clothes and shoes have been thrown away.

Mould on walls and even a baby's bib (Supplied)

She added: “They just covered up the problem instead of properly dealing with it.

“The air smells damp and horrible and the walls are soaking wet behind the plaster.”

Ms Coveley has now started a legal claim with housing repair specialists Express Solicitors against Lambeth in a bid to get rehomed.

Trainee lawyer Isabel Croft said: “These conditions are terrible and no one should be expected to live somewhere that is a danger to their health.

“Stacey is terrified of her flat and councils need to do more to protect their tenants’ health.”

The council said: “Lambeth is committed to ensuring that all our council homes are safe and well-maintained for our residents and, when problems arise, we work hard to deal with them quickly and fairly.

“It’s clear that the service we provided in this case has not been up to the standard required and we apologise to Ms Coveley for the distress caused by these failings.

“We have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in improving our council homes and estates in recent years.

“But tackling damp and mould proactively, in partnership with our residents, is a particular priority, as these have affected a number of our properties and we know the distress they can cause.

“Our wide-ranging actions to tackle disrepair include a Damp Charter, home MOTs, home health checks and a rapid response mould removal and treatment service.

“We have also appointed 10 new firms and created a brand new in-house repairs team to carry out repairs and maintenance jobs to council homes, as part of our drive to improve the service we provide to tenants.”

Awaab Ishak (Family Handout/PA) (PA Media)

But Ms Coveley responded: “I don’t want apologies.”

Under rules passed last July, landlords in social housing are required to fix reported hazards, such as mould, in a “timely fashion” or rehouse tenants in safe accommodation as part of Awaab’s Law.

The legislation is named after little Awaab who died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Other measures give the social housing watchdog more teeth, including new powers to issue unlimited fines to landlords who fail to meet standards.

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