South London dad's bedroom so mouldy he's forced to sleep in living room

-Credit: (Image: Joe Coughlan)
-Credit: (Image: Joe Coughlan)

A South London dad says he has been forced to sleep on his living room floor because of such bad mould in his bedroom. Kevin Barry says he is plagued by mould above the bed of his Blackheath home.

Mr Barry, 69, has lived in the property since 1996. The dad said that until last week, he and his wife spent a month sleeping in their living room to avoid their mouldy bedroom.

Mr Barry said: “We’re supposed to be in a two bedroom flat. And my wife’s gone 70, I’m going on 70, more like 80, and you’re dossing down on the living room floor of your own flat. My body feels wrecked still from that month on the floor. And I said to my wife, ‘I can't stand this anymore. There's no alternative. I have to go back upstairs.’”

READ MORE: North London 'house of horrors' with 'the stench of dead rats, mould and leaks'

Kevin said there was mould on the ceiling of the bedroom -Credit:Kevin Barry
Kevin said there was mould on the ceiling of the bedroom -Credit:Kevin Barry

Mr Barry and his wife, Rita, said they first told the council about the mould on their bedroom ceiling on November 7, after a spout of heavy rain. They said a roofer was sent by the council later that month. Mrs Barry, 70, said: “He said that the mould needs sorting as an emergency and [we] shouldn't be sleeping in that room.”

After the roofer visited, Mr Barry said he and his wife started sleeping in the living room. Mrs Barry said she slept on a camp bed, while Mr Barry lay on couch cushions on the ground with duvets and blankets.

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: "We're aware of the case, have attended the property, undertaken an inspection and have already carried out some initial works. We will continue to work closely with Mr Barry and are in the process of arranging further works."

Mrs Barry said that on December 3, the council came to clean the mould from the ceiling. However, the mum said after the mould had been cleared away, the chemicals used for the cleaning were so strong they had to keep the bedroom windows open and door closed for “weeks”.

She said: “We decided that we weren't going to sleep up there any more, because the mould had gotten that bad. And then when they came and cleaned it, it was impossible [to sleep in there]. You couldn't go up there. If you're in the bathroom next door you could smell it.”

Mr Barry said he and his wife also stayed in their living room as they did not know if their bedroom was safe to be in, after noticing a huge crack running along the ceiling. They said they have been told they won't know if the room is structurally safe until mid-January.

The dad said: “I would have thought someone from the council would have come down to reassure us that the ceiling is all right. I sent them a message saying you know if anything happens to my wife or myself through this…I’ll go to war.”

Mr Barry said he couldn’t believe the “incompetence” from the council on such an "important” thing. He said: “You’re supposed to go and sleep under this, with my asthma and stuff like that, breathing the spores. You could taste it, like mildew and that sort of sickly smell. You're supposed to sleep in your bedroom.”

The couple said they had only seen more progress from the council on the issue since posting pictures of the room online.

The dad said: “It's like they don't want places like that to be seen. It's like they don't exist, we don’t have places like this in Blackheath, where people have to live in these sorts of conditions. But when it’s put there [online], they sort of contact you and show concern and everything.”

Mr Barry said the problem has “upset” his wife, and has found the situation difficult “mentally”. He said: “We've just come in here and want a peaceful life and to be treated like human beings. And as Greenwich Council is the landlord, for them to do a proper job for their tenants.”

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: "We know that damp and mould is a big concern for our tenants, and we take this very seriously.

"We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for many residents who may be avoiding heating their homes. We’d urge any council tenants who are struggling to afford their energy bills to contact the council or their tenancy officer for advice, support and next steps. For some simple steps on preventing damp and mould in your home visit [the council website].

"As part of our Greenwich Supports campaign to help residents with cost of living, we have pledged funding to support the most vulnerable people in our borough, including funding to create warm spaces available through Greenwich Supports for our residents."

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