Morpeth pensioners' anger after being forced to move out of damp and smelly luxury apartment - again

James and Susan Robson say their home is riddled with damp
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

An elderly couple who moved into a dream luxury apartment say they have been living hell after the property has been plagued with issues.

James and Susan Robson, both in their 70s, moved into their dream retirement home in The Old Registry, Morpeth, in November 2021, paying £165,000 in cash for their one bedroom apartment. The couple hoped their home would be easier to manage because they both have health issues.

But they say their dream home has been nothing but a nightmare as it has been riddled with damp and rot, and they had mould mites crawling around the floor. The couple was forced to move out of their home for six weeks at the beginning of last year to allow work to be carried out to allow issues with a leaking pipe running under their bedroom floor to be fixed.

But one year on the couple say the property is still plagued with issues and they are being forced to move out again after an independent survey was carried out by inspectors who ruled the apartment as 'not fit for purpose'.

Susan said: "The kitchen and bathroom is to be ripped out and all radiators removed so the plaster can be stripped from the walls taking them back to the brick work. All the floors are to be taken up, after tests showed total saturation of 999 on the moisture meter reading, due to no damp proof membrane.

"Externally the flashing, guttering and rainwater goods are in need of repair/replacement, plus a front elevation is higher than the internal floor level trapping rainwater."

Damp in the home
Damp in the home -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

The couple's property was one of 12 homes which had been created from the Grade II former council building and school rooms formerly known as Wansbeck House. The development was sold by Morpeth-based builders Northumberland Ltd, whose office is also in The Old Registry.

Susan said talks with the developer to recoup the costs have fallen flat, and the cost of the repairs is likely going to end up having to be split between everyone living at the Old Registry due to the leasehold agreement.

She said: "The developer is refusing any help at all so because it is a lease hold it might be down to everybody who lives here to put money in the pot to pay for the work, which I think is seriously wrong. It could be in excess of £2,000.

"He said these things take time, but he has never spoken to us, he has never been in here since July 2022 even though his office is three steps from our door. He has done nothing at all and is refusing and rejecting all advice from environmental health and damp experts."

They say that within two weeks of moving in, they noticed stains on the carpet under the furniture in their bedroom, and when they lifted a corner of the carpet it was black with mould and the carpet grippers had rotted. They also complained that the 'windows ran with water day and night'.

The couple will have to move out to allow repair work to be carried out
The couple will have to move out to allow repair work to be carried out -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

They moved out in January last year for six weeks due to issues with a trench pipe that runs through their apartment. They had to throw away their bedroom furniture due to damp and mould.

Susan added: "We replaced our bedroom furniture, bed and flooring in March 2023, but unfortunately once again due to a repeat of severe damp and mould we are going to have to replace it again."

The couple say the situation has a "huge" impact on their physical and mental health.

Susan said: "He might as well just have stolen our money, we can't sell and we can't move. We are just stuck here.

"Jimmy has lots of medical issues and it has a massive impact on both our physical and mental health. When we move out everything will have to go in the tip. The last time everything went in the tip and he refused to use his insurance to replace our bed.

Northumberland Ltd has been contacted for comment.