Edinburgh mum-of-three hits out at council over 'horrendous' mould and damp in flat
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An Edinburgh mum-of-three living in a house riddled with damp has hit out at the council after it offered to move her to another mouldy flat.
Megan Cluness says the mould and rising damp in her council property in Pilton has got so bad she crams herself and three kids all into one bedroom because the other rooms are covered. Two of her children have health problems she links to the mould which is causing wallpaper to come off walls and has spread to the back of kitchen cupboards. Beds have been changed several times since she moved in last year and clothes and toys ruined, the mother said.
Ms Cluness said: “The mould in here is horrendous. It’s everywhere. My sister helps me clean it with bleach every few days but we can’t keep on top of it. Since I asked for help it was obvious the council wasn’t taking me seriously. The mould is so bad in most rooms. My son won’t go in and sleep in his room because it’s so bad it’s hard to breathe.
"And I’m sure there’s rising damp too because if you walk on carpets your feet get soaked. Our heating hasn’t worked for a while either so we’ve just had these electric blow heaters but they cost a fortune to run. It was hard to put the kids in the bath with it being so cold. They told me the place they were offering to move us to was fine but I went and saw it and it was mouldy. It’s a farce. People shouldn’t be living in these conditions, especially not young children.”
The 26-year-old, who has Crohn’s disease, said she first reported the mould last November and – after a survey was carried out – she said she was advised she’d need to move to another home. But she claims she’s only been offered another mouldy flat or a home that’s far from her family, who she needs to be near to for day-to-day support due to her health. It comes after figures released earlier this month showed damps and mould complaints soared ten-fold in Edinburgh.
However, the council has drastically reduced its spending on repair works to tackle damp. It went from £296,000 in 2020 up to £450,425 in 2021 then fell to only £1,298,802 in 2022, according to information obtained under freedom of information powers.
A City of Edinburgh council spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that this household is experiencing damp and we are keen to work quickly to resolve this. We take the health and wellbeing of our tenants very seriously. It is always difficult to find an empty home nearby which meets the specific needs of the tenants, but we always strive to find somewhere suitable in the local area to stay in when urgent repairs are needed. We will continue to work with the household to arrange somewhere that is suitable for the tenants’ needs and will continue to offer support wherever we can.”
Councillor Stuart Dobbin has supported Ms Cluness and saw the mould after a visit to her home. He said: “The strategy to deal with damp and mould in Edinburgh is strong on paper but too often tenants are not experiencing the process that should be followed. Damp and mould affect the physical and mental health of tenants and their children and it is unacceptable for anyone to live in such conditions.”
Local MSPs have raised the issue at Holyrood, citing the tragic case of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died from a respiratory condition which a coroner ruled had been caused by excessive mould in the housing association flat where he lived in Rochdale.
Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “The extent of damp and mould in Edinburgh socially rented homes is unacceptable, with the number of dampness survey’s being carried out increasing tenfold, in four years. I have received regular case work from constituents about issues with damp and mould in their properties and the impact this has on their health.
“We urgently need to see improvements in the quality of socially rented homes and proper repairs being made when mould is reported. With Edinburgh having one of the highest levels of damp and mould in Scotland, SNP and Green Ministers must urgently find an Edinburgh specific solution to the problem.”