Concerned Sharon Broadhurst, 52, has raised the alarm about her daughter’s leased basement flat in Russell Street which is covered in mould and claims it is causing her grandchildren health problems.
She is calling on Vanderpump Estate Agents and the landlords of the town centre property to take action to remove the mould and damp.
Mrs Broadhurst said: “There’s mould in every room of the house. It’s growing on my daughter and granddaughter’s beds.”
She claimed the mould is having an impact on her daughter, as they both have asthma, and the two children.
The five-year-old child was off school four times between October and December, had two contacts with a doctor and nine cases of feeling unwell according to records kept by her mother.
Meanwhile, the baby went to the doctors twice and was recorded feeling ill three times in the same period.
Mrs Broadhurst said: “They’re back and forth to the doctors constantly.
“She’s had the baby in hospital because they said her breathing was terrible.
“It’s not just them either, I can stay no longer than 20 or 30 minutes because it affects my asthma.
“When she will open the door you can smell a musty smell in the air instantly.
“If you’re bringing up children you want them fit and healthy, you don’t want them in a property that’s riddled with damp.”
Her daughter only moved into the property in Spring last year, and although the flat seemed well prepared to begin with, spots of mould began to appear.
Problems with damp and mould intensified after a fire at a neighbouring property last August where water was left soaking into their walls.
But Mrs Broadhurst said the signs were there from the beginning, saying: “There was a problem there early on, there were black spots in the bathroom and windows.
“I didn’t get to see the property because I couldn’t take the time off work, I wish she never took it.
“There’s plastic cladding that hides the main walls, which hide a multitude of sins.”
The house is managed on behalf of the landlord by Vanderpump estate agents.
To help deal with the issue, the daughter was given two dehumidifying fans.
More recently, an expert was dispatched to conduct tests and find a lasting remedy.
Mrs Broadhurst claimed the humidity for damp and mould should be no higher than 43 per cent – but the flat has a humidity level of 86 per cent.
In response to the issue, a spokesperson for Vanderpump said: “Unfortunately, condensation, mould and damp can be caused by defects in the property, or by situations caused by the tenant.
“Where a property has broken gutters, rising or penetrating damp, burst pipes or burst water tanks, these should be speedily remedied by the landlord especially where the cause is obvious and this is what we have done. Also, a tenant’s lifestyle can have a major impact.
“Our current action has been based – not unreasonably on the fact that there was a fire in the next-door property and the fire brigade used many gallons of water, some of which seems to have impacted on this property.
“This clearly is not the fault of the tenant, and the focus has been to take action to remove the moisture in the air. For that reason, the tenant was provided with de-humidifiers which normally are very effective at resolving the problem.
“Some time later, the tenant informed us that there was still an issue and our maintenance team recommended additional fans in the bedroom to circulate air as this was the main area where the issues were. This room is the opposite side to the walls where water would have been sprayed by the fire brigade. Changing the air every two hours is beneficial to preventing condensation, usually by using trickle vents in double glazed windows or leaving windows open a tiny bit.”
They went on to confirm a specialist attended the flat, but did not come as quickly as Vanderpump would have liked.
The spokesperson added the recommendations of the specialist will be followed as required, and also suggested that the small family could be rehoused.
The spokesperson said: “Properties to rent are very hard to come by, with rents having increased and a shortage of supply but should the tenant have another property they feel is more appropriate for their needs, the landlord is willing to allow them to end their tenancy and move without giving notice whilst the investigation for damp is ongoing.
“We are aware of press reports on this topic and unfortunately some have been slanted to make out that the fault always lies with the landlord or landlord’s agent and that the landlord always refuses to deal with the problem.
“We have acted and will continue to act in a professional and responsible way until the issue is resolved however condensation does not magically go away.
“Sometimes it is necessary to try various methods before a solution is found and this is what we are doing on behalf of our landlord with their agreement.”
The spokesperson also signposted guidance on damp and mould produced by Reading Borough Council