Family-of-seven's home so damp that mushrooms grow in corners
- Credit: Mark Ward/Denise Bradley
Mushrooms and mould have been growing for more than six months in the home of a family “let down” by their housing association.
A family in Watton said they had repeatedly “begged for help” from Victory Homes, part of the Flagship Group, since December last year, when they first discovered a significant water leak in their home on Bridle Road.
But more than six months later, Mark and Charlene Ward and their five children, aged between 15 and two, have been left living in “horrific” conditions – with mushrooms growing up from their ground floor.
Mr Ward, 43, said “no family should have to live like this” and it had caused them “terrible stress” as he also feared for his children’s health living in such conditions.
“I first reported the problem in December,” he said. “But because it was so close to Christmas and Covid, they told us no one could see us until January.
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“By late January we still hadn’t heard anything and our living room had started to smell like a stagnant swamp.
“We have had to rip up the flooring in the kitchen and lounge because the water kept coming up.
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“We have mushrooms growing everywhere, the wood has gone rotten on the skirting boards, the cupboard and door frames have expanded so we struggle to open them. As well as the black mould that grows on the walls.
“I have never lived in a house with a company who have been so appalling. The way they have treated us and handled the situation. The worst thing is, there has been a lot of passing the buck.”
After various attempts - throughout the six months - to contact the housing company for help, Mr Ward said he felt as though he was being "fobbed off".
The family were eventually told that it was going to take a significant amount of work to find and fix the problem.
In the meantime, they were advised to turn off their water mains when it was not in use. But Mr Ward said this had done little to prevent water from coming up.
Despite visits from company tradesmen - who had been unable to find the source of the leak - and officials from Victory Homes, which manages the property, the problem was still not resolved.
Around mid-May the family were finally given a date when work would begin, but no one turned up.
A spokesman from the Flagship Group said it was sorry for letting the family down and it would work to ensure their home was back to normal “as soon as possible”.
They said: “The time taken for us to resolve the leak isn’t the level of service we want our tenants to receive.
“After several visits to the property, we discovered the leak and following further investigation established the need for significant works, and that concrete floors must be lifted to access the leaking pipes.
“Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, this type of work has been difficult. However, we have revisited Mr and Mrs Ward’s home to review the situation and have now scheduled the repairs.
“Again, we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused by this leak and for the time taken for us to identify the cause. We will ensure that the leak is resolved by the end of this week.”
Mr Ward added: “I have children that are in the living room daily and I do not wish for them to accidently ingest the mushrooms or get poorly from the constant moisture. But we have been breathing that in for six months.
“We are terrified for their health. You watch them as much as you can, but you take your eyes off them for seconds and our two-year-old will be paddling in the water.
“We now have to wear shoes permanently even if the stop tap is off as there is so much water underneath.
“We can’t live like this for much longer.”