A mum-of-four says her family is ‘trapped’ in a flat so infested with mould that spores stain her kids’ school uniforms and her young daughter sleeps in a tent.
Sherri Smith, 29, said she has had mould “from floor to ceiling in every room” and claims it keeps coming back because the UK’s largest housing association hasn’t fully fixed the problem.
Ms Smith, who has lived in the two-bed flat since 2012, shared photos which show thick mould covering everything from walls and ceilings to her purse and furniture including children’s beds.
She said she was offered just £25 in compensation despite being forced to throw out furniture and clothes, and her seven-year-old daughter Skylah has been sleeping in a tent for two months because mould spreads to their beds.
Ms Smith said her mental health has suffered and she fears the mould is harming her family’s physical health, especially that of her four-year-old son Kaydon, who has asthma.
She shared a copy of a letter sent by her children’s school to Clarion in January, in which the headteacher writes: “Two of the children concerned were complaining of breathing difficulties and had evidence of mould on their clothing and this was of concern to the school.”
Ms Smith, also mum to Oliver, 15, and Amie, 10, said: “I’ve had mould from floor to ceiling in every room. This has been going on for eight-and-a-half years.
“I’ve complained to everyone you can think of and I’ve always been shrugged off.
“It’s been a nightmare.”
She has applied to be moved into a larger home, but she faces a lengthy wait because there is a severe shortage of social housing in London.
Clarion Housing Group said the “persistent mould issue” is due to condensation caused by “overcrowding and poor ventilation” inside the family’s flat in Walthamstow, north-east London.
When Ms Smith moved in, the flat was for her and her two children. Since then, she has had two more children.
Three of her four children sleep in the lounge, which has been converted into a bedroom, and their bed is covered in mould, their mum said.
Ms Smith rejected the notion that it was down to “lifestyle” and suggested other sources – such as damp, water leaks and rain seeping in due to the guttering – were to blame.
Clarion claims furniture was blocking airways and windows were rarely opened, “leading to condensation and mould”, but Ms Smith denied the allegations.
She Smith said there has been a problem with mould since she moved in and it keeps coming back despite 10 washes and repairs by the housing association over the years.
She said: “We can’t hold any furniture in the property. The mental impact that this is having, to be throwing away their stuff every six months… it is having a detrimental affect on them.
“This is meant to be the years where they are growing but all my children know is mould and throwing away their property.”
She said she has been forced to move furniture and other items out of the house and store them in her back garden.
Ms Smith said she has felt her complaints weren’t taken seriously enough or handled properly, and claims Clarion offered her just £25 in compensation and shut her down.
Ms Smith said she feels “stuck” in her situation, adding: “I just feel people like us, we don’t get heard. It’s not really fair. I’m a human as well.”
The firm insisted that it has done everything it could to help Ms Smith and her children, including washes, repairs and advice on how to prevent mould.
A spokesperson said: “Clarion is a responsible social landlord and we have done everything possible to support Ms Smith and her family in this property.
“The persistent mould issue is undoubtedly due to condensation, caused by overcrowding and poor ventilation.
“Ms Smith’s family has grown since moving into the property and she and her four children now need a larger home.
““We will continue to do all we can to tackle the mould, but the real issue is the housing crisis.
“There is an urgent need for more government grant to encourage the building of affordable rented homes, so that families like Ms Smith’s can be suitably housed.”
Clarion Housing Group is the UK’s largest housing association, with about 125,000 homes.
Its CEO, Clare Miller, was the third highest paid housing association chief executive in the UK in 2019/20, with a total salary of £392,339.