Two young women claim they wake up struggling to breathe due to shocking levels of mould which have consumed their flat. Ella, 22, and her flat mate have been plagued with health issues since moving into their privately rented flat in Manchester city centre earlier this year.
The young professionals say they have even resorted to spraying their clothes with Febreze before going into work because the smell in their apartment has become so bad.
The friends were unable to view the £890 a month flat in the NOMA area of Manchester in person because all the viewings were taken, but say when they watched a video of the property online, everything looked fine. But a short time after moving in three months ago, Ella said they began to notice a strange smell and little bits of black mould appearing.
Since then, she claims the mould has taken over the entire flat and is now affecting their health. Shocking pictures show large black marks on the kitchen ceiling, bits of mould under the women’s beds, and clothes and shoes which have been ruined.
Ella claims her letting agent have failed to address the problem, and the pair are now desperately hunting for a new place to live. She says she successfully argued a freeze on their rent payments due to the living conditions – but says she was only able to do this by threatening the company with legal action.
She is now warning other young renters in Manchester to insist on viewing properties before accepting them, and ensuring they understand their legal rights if the living standards don’t match up to what they have agreed to pay for.
Speaking to the M.E.N, she said: “When we moved in, straight away there was this smell. We noticed little bits of black mould in the corners of the room and under the bed smelt really bad. There was mould in our wardrobes as well which we had to wipe down.
“Straight away I started taking photos and contacted the agency. They said they would get someone to take a look. I had to keep calling them to get someone out. Meanwhile, I have had to wash my sheets constantly because they stink. The damp mould is getting on our clothes as well.”
Ella claims a few different contractors have come in to assess the mould, but have all advised different things. She claims nothing has been put in place to address the situation, and says she has made several reports to the letting agent that the mould is getting worse.
“The bathroom has got really bad in the last few weeks,” she said. “The light fixtures are coming away and it’s all down the walls of the bathroom. It looks really bad and it stinks. We are both working professionals and I literally have to sit in my car and spray myself with Febreze before I can go in.
“My flatmate woke up the other day and said she was struggling to breathe. We both wake up with a sore throat and blocked nose every day. We are both just very poorly. At first we thought it was just a cold but for both of us to wake up every day feeling like we can’t breathe is not right.
“My chest is currently really bad and I have had to book in for an ECG. I don’t know if it’s related but I’d never had any health problems before moving into the flat.”
Ella and her flatmate are expected to pay £890 a month for the flat, but have now refused to continue paying until the mould has been treated. After finding ‘legal documents’ online, she claims the agency agreed they didn’t have to pay, and would let them remain in the property until they find somewhere else to live.
“We asked them if they could put us up in private accommodation until we found somewhere but they flat out refused,” she said. Obviously it’s good we are not paying rent but I’d rather pay rent and live somewhere without mould. We asked if they had any other properties we could rent and they also said no.
“I sent new photos of the mould two weeks ago and still nobody has come round. I think they will just get new tenants in and paint over the mould. That flat itself was perfect for what we needed but we didn’t think it was going to be such a horror.
“I have lost a lot of trust in renting because it feels like we have been stitched up. Maybe because we are two young women they think we aren’t going to make a fuss about it. I know some people would probably bite their tongue in a situation like this but I think it’s really important to try and fight your corner. At the end of the day we didn’t sign up for a flat with this many problems.”