Family of four sleeping in one room after mould 'consumes home'

Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington at their house in Birkenhead
Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington at their house in Birkenhead -Credit:Liverpool Echo

A family of four say they are forced to sleep in one room and they could have 'fell through the ceiling' at bath time as mould has consumed their home.

Matthew Parry, 33, and his partner, Katie Torrington, 34, from Birkenhead, claim they have been forced to live in one room with their two children, aged 4 and 6. The dad says he fears the piling list of maintenance issues in their home could leave his children sick or injured.

The dad told the ECHO how his children's bedroom, living room and kitchen is covered with thick black mould, how his roof leaks and his plug sockets in his kitchen don't work meaning he has to feed a family of four with one microwave. He also claimed that mushrooms are growing on the outside of his damp walls and how a huge hole in the floor next to the bath, left his kids in danger of falling through the ceiling.

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Matthew said: "There is damp and mould right across the property, there are sockets that don't work in the kitchen and a hole in the bathroom which has been sealed, but the workmanship I'm not satisfied with."

The property is managed by Roach Estates in Liverpool, who the dad claims he struggles to get maintenance jobs approved through. Roach Estates said that a roofer and electrician have both carried out works on the property and, in the past 18 months, £7,000 has been spent on maintenance with these having "been signed off by both the council and tenant himself".

Matthew told the ECHO: "On occasions we get approval they tell us they have booked jobs in and say he [the maintenance] will be coming. But no-one comes. We are passed from pillar to post.

"Because we are under the selective licencing order we put in a complaint to the council in February. Work was started to fix the damp and the leaking roof, they said the roof was fixed but I don't think it is - it's going to be a problem in the winter.

Matthew Parry shows mould in the children's bedroom of his house in Birkenhead
Matthew Parry shows mould in the children's bedroom of his house in Birkenhead -Credit:Liverpool Echo

"There is still so much work that needs doing and it's just not getting done. There are mushrooms growing outside, they are now going into the living room. There is a hole in the bathroom - right next to the bath - which they 'boarded over' - I have two kids and getting them in and out the bath is an issue, they could have easily gone through the floor if they stepped out the bath into the hole. It is a worry as a parent, it's dangerous.

"The shower doesn't give out hot water, we were told that we can still get baths but that is taking a huge hit on our gas bill, we are a family of four we can't afford four baths a day. We are having to limit baths because we can't afford to have four baths a day.

"And, our kids are sleeping on a mattress on the floor because we have had to move them out of their bedroom because it is covered in mould. The kids' bedroom is out of bounds. My kids are sleeping on a mattress on our floor because they can't go in there. There are four of us living in one room. It means our kids are not getting enough sleep either.

"We can't use our living room either because that is out of bounds from the mould, everything is moved into the back room and the kitchen. There is a leak and damp in the kitchen, which has been caused by the shower. The electrics don't work either, we have no oven so we can't cook, we're having to rely on our microwave. It's hard to feed a family of four out of a microwave.

Inside Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington's house in Birkenhead
Inside Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington's house in Birkenhead -Credit:Liverpool Echo

"The plugs don't work in the kitchen so we are having to keep our freezer in the front room, where the mould is and it impacts us with space."

Matthew worries about his children's health, he says his son has been diagnosed with asthma after being exposed to the mould for so long. He said: "I have never suffered with my chest before and now I have had four chest infections, my son currently has a chest infection.

"I really worry about the health of my two children, it's them I worry about. I have no doubt my son will have a long term health issue."

The stress the living situation has inflicted on the family is causing Matthew and Katie's mental health to plummet. He said: "We are so stressed as a family, we are trying to get time off for people to come and fix things, meaning we are losing money at work.

"We have had to throw out loads of furniture, the wardrobes, kids' stuff in their bedrooms and their toys because of the damp, clothes have been thrown away too, all of this costs. We are throwing away £100s of pounds. It's really stressful, I try to get out of the house as much as I can because I don't want to be in it.

Inside Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington's house in Birkenhead
Inside Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington's house in Birkenhead -Credit:Liverpool Echo

"It is stressful, you get down about it. I physically can't do anything about it either. It's impacting our mental health massively, it's impacting everything. We have tried everything to resolve it."

A spokesman for Roach Estates said: "A damp issue was reported to the bedroom of the property and on instruction from the landlord the wall was knocked back to the brick dehumidifiers supplied to dry walls then boarded and skimmed. A roofer was organised to repair the guttering and roof which has been completed. An Electrician has attended again and checked and further advised that the cooker and hob were both working with no issues.

"We took over management of the property around 18 months ago and in this period the landlord has spent around £7000 on maintenance and repairs/upgrades with these having been signed off by both the council and tenant himself.

"Despite in this period receiving numerous complaints of anti-social behaviour from neighbours and with the tenant being abusive and aggressive to our members of staff we have continued to send contractors and staff to carry out work and inspections, further more I would like to add that due to the tenants' arrears in excess of £12,000.00 the landlord was put in a position where he was forced to sell the property with the auction taking place in Feb 2024.

Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington at their house in Birkenhead
Matthew Parry and Katie Torrington at their house in Birkenhead -Credit:Liverpool Echo

"In conclusion the tenants' issues in the property have not been ignored and we will continue to carry out the required maintenance and allow contractors to finish works in the property until we receive instruction that the property sale has completed and our management ceases."

A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: “Officers from the Council’s Housing Standards Team carried out an inspection of this property earlier this year and an Improvement Notice under the Housing Act 2004 was subsequently served. This property is registered under the Selective Licensing scheme and the notice placed an obligation on the licensee to carry out works to address a number of hazards at the property, including damp and mould and electrical issues, before 5th May 2024.

“The tenants have been supported during this time by one of the Council’s Healthy Homes team who has been encouraging Mr Parry to facilitate access for the landlord's contractors. Works carried out since the notice was served include roof repairs, damp and mould affected plaster being removed then replastered, and rotten flooring in the bathroom being replaced.

“There are still additional works scheduled to be carried out at the property and the council will follow up with the licensee to make sure that the outstanding works items are completed, and the property is left in a safe condition for the tenants.”

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