Mum and son, 7, stuck in living room of one-bed flat ridden with ants and ‘black mould’

A mum-of-one claimed she has developed asthma from living in a black mould-ridden council flat with her seven-year-old son for almost 10 years.

Sonia, 48, said she’s been desperate to move out after the mould left significant parts of the walls completely black, as well as an infestation of crawling ants and other pests.

To tackle the pest problems, Sonia said she had taken it upon herself to fill in cracks where the ants creep in from, as well as using tape on multiple light switches and other points in the property.

The mum said she has been left feeling worried about the impact the living conditions are having on her young son, and claimed that she previously called a housing officer to fix the issues, but that this was not followed up on.

She told MyLondon that she has now been forced to sleep in the living room of the one-bed flat with her son because of the mould in their bedroom, and that she has reached breaking point after being affected by numerous issues for eight years.

She said: “I asked the woman, if you can get the repair people to fill the cracks because of the ants, the lady give me a reference number. No-one I turned up. I don’t like being here. My son hasn’t got anywhere to play, and it’s not good for his age.”

She said they both have asthma, which she believed has developed since living in the property. But as well as breathing difficulties, Sonia also has multiple other health issues.

She said: “I don’t pay for [the property] now because they know I’ve got issues with my health, but they’re not checking on my health.

“I haven’t got a spleen. I had a hip replacement. I’ve got arthritis on my hip, I’ve got a swollen foot, because I was in a coma for two weeks fighting for my life. I was in Whipps Cross Hospital in 2017.”

While Sonia claimed the property has been labelled as “unsuitable to live in” by a housing surveyor, the council is not planning to extensively fix the property.

Describing the bedroom, which they are currently unable to use, she said: “They’re trying to say that the flat, there’s nothing wrong with it.

“I’m trying to get out of here, because it’s too small for me and my son for a start, and then for my health as well. “

As well as the home being plagued by insects and mould, Sonia said there is a plant growing through the wall, which has been taped up.

She also claimed there were dead flies in the room, as well as white mould on the floor.

Sonia added that she’s been supported by her neighbours, who have all been shocked by the state of her home.

The mum said: “My neighbours come here. I’m crying. I’m stressed out. I can’t sleep at night, because I keep looking to see if there’s any ants coming.

“About two months ago I woke up from my bed. I opened the patio door and the whole carpet was full of ants, all over the floor there, and the kitchen.”

She said that she is hoping to move near her elder son in the borough of Barking and Dagenham.

He said: “It’s not even as if all the neighbours in this building are going through the same thing, they’re not, this is completely different. When they hear what’s going on here, they’re like, ‘woah’. They’re shocked that my mum is going through this.”

Work has been scheduled to be done on the property later this month, but Sonia believes it’s just a quick fix and that, “all they’re going to do is just to clean the damp, paint it”.

Sonia said: “The lawyer sent a surveyor over and I asked him, ‘do you think this property is suitable for me to live in?’, and he said, ‘no’.

“He said, ‘one, it’s not good and two, there’s no space.’ But the housing officers still want to work around it. They want to paint and clean this in front of me and my son for two days. My son and I have to sleep here while they paint and clean up the damp.”

Cllr Ahsan Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration at Waltham Forest Borough Council, told MyLondon: “We have been in contact with the resident to arrange a visit to the property to assess the problems this month. We offer pest control services to all council tenants that can be quickly and easily booked through our website.”

MyLondon also contacted Barking and Dagenham Borough Council for comment.

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