Baby living in mouldy London flat coughed so much he vomited, mum says

Shaniece Nugent looking out of a window
Shaniece Nugent and her son have been moved out of their White City home until repairs can be completed -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

A baby boy living in a mouldy West London flat coughed so much it caused him to vomit, his mother has said. Shaniece Nugent, 26, who has been temporarily moved out of her home on the White City Estate, in Shepherd's Bush, said she also fears for her and her son’s safety due to suspected drug users regularly knocking on her door with cash in their hands.

Ms Nugent was recently offered £475 in compensation by her landlord Hammersmith and Fulham Council after acknowledging the impact of the leaks and a lack of communication. She said she refused the money, describing it as 'insulting' to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), and has since escalated her complaint to stage two.

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said the council has been unable to begin repair works until the leak, in a leasehold property above Ms Nugent’s, is resolved by the managing agent, Dexters. The council added it has apologised to Ms Nugent and “continue to work closely with her”. The LDRS attempted to contact Dexters but had not received a response at the time of publication.

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Ms Nugent told the LDRS she was first placed in temporary accommodation in Hounslow in December 2022, having presented to Hammersmith and Fulham while pregnant. She said she was then moved to a property in Willesden, before accepting a flat in the White City Estate. She moved in in May 2023, following the birth of her son.

Based on the ground floor, Ms Nugent said it was not long before she began receiving knocks from suspected drug addicts, who would turn up waving money in their hands. This came to a head in August 2023, when Ms Nugent filed a report with the police after someone came to her door requesting “three of something”.

In the report, seen by the LDRS, Ms Nugent wrote: “I am not sure why this happened and I am extremely worried and scared for my son and I as I live alone.” A spokesperson for the council said following the ASB issue being raised, housing officers offered support, and Local Enforcement Team (LET) patrols have been made alongside daily visits to the estate.

Shaniece Nugent's hands
Shaniece Nugent said the issues experienced at her White City home have left her concerned for her and her son's safety -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Ms Nugent, however, said she remained concerned, due to behaviour such as cannabis being openly smoked as well as the visitors to her front door. She said: “It got to the point where it’s happened so many times, and in my house it’s me and my son, and I don’t want to open the door.”

Ms Nugent and her son are currently living in temporary accommodation organised by the council. Not due to the frequent knocking on her door and other antisocial behaviour, however, but the extensive damp and mould plaguing their White City flat.

‘You can’t put a price on the fact my son has been ill’

Problems first arose when a leak from a leasehold flat several floors above broke out in January this year. Water flooded down into Ms Nugent’s home, affecting rooms including her bathroom and kitchen, and causing mould and damp to spread across several walls.

Ms Nugent said she was told the leak had been resolved the following month, though the issue persisted on and off, with further damage caused to her flat. This included a period of several weeks in February when her shower did not work due to the electrics tripping.

The concerns around damp and mould were particularly pertinent due to the history of lung issues in Ms Nugent’s family. She said her mother had asthma and her dad chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and that she and her brother also have asthma. She added she is in the process of getting her son tested.

In one particularly graphic incident, she said he coughed so much while in their White City flat that he vomited. Since moving out, however, she said he has had no such issues. She added: “He hasn’t actually had any coughing episodes here. He’s not been sick, he’s not had a cold, he’s not had a cough, he’s not had nothing.”

An example of some of the damp and mould damage in Shaniece Nugent's flat
An example of some of the damp and mould damage in Shaniece Nugent's flat -Credit:Shaniece Nugent

In March, Ms Nugent filed a stage one complaint with Hammersmith and Fulham Council, claiming the local authority had been negligent in not resolving the issues with her property sooner. She received a response a month later, in which the council acknowledged the inconvenience of the leak and delays to repairs, and offered compensation of £475.

Ms Nugent has however described the offer as ‘insulting’, saying she does not want financial compensation, but a safer home for her and her son. She has since escalated it to a stage two complaint. “For me, you can’t put a price on the fact that my son has been ill, the fact I can’t sleep at night and this whole situation has worried me and I now check if he’s breathing," she said. "I don’t even understand what the £475 is for.”

“I was quite shocked when they offered me compensation, because that was never my intention,” she added. “My intention is to live somewhere where I won’t be pestered by drug users, where I can open my windows and my house doesn’t smell like weed. Where my son and I can be safe.”

The LDRS has also seen a letter sent to the council’s housing department by Ms Nugent’s GP in late March, requesting she and her child be re-housed. The letter reads: “Their home has several issues, there was a leak recently, the house is riddled with mould, this is causing respiratory issues for her child who had to be hospitalised recently. Moreover, drug dealers and other criminals regularly bother her and are around the property, which has massively affected her mental health.”

The council told the LDRS it is assessing Ms Nugent’s housing needs with the support of its medical adviser, following the information shared in the letter.

Damp and mould in Shaniece Nugent's home
Much of the damage in the flat was due to a leak coming from a leasehold flat above -Credit:Shaniece Nugent

Ms Nugent and her son were decanted from their home in April, and will remain in temporary accommodation until repairs are completed. She said she has had no major qualms with either of the two properties she has been put in since being moved out, though that she is unsure when she will be returning to the White City Estate.

Asked about her son, she said: “He favours me over everyone. When he’s upset he puts his hands out for me, he says his first words. He loves me, I love him, we have a good relationship. I would say I’m quite a silly mum, like if he’s upset in the bath I’ll get in the bath with him and we’ll play around.”

“Me and him, we’re fine,” she added. “Obviously this whole situation gets in the way, because it does take up a lot of my time trying to argue and push for this.”

Council's response

A spokesperson for Hammersmith and Fulham Council said: “Due to an ongoing leak from a leaseholder property into the flat and the extensive damage being caused we have provided Ms Nugent with temporary accommodation. We are unable to start repair works on the property until the leak is dealt with by the managing agent of the neighbouring property.

“We have apologised to Ms Nugent for the time taken to respond to her repair request and we continue to work closely with her to ensure she has all the support she needs.”

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