Hitchin family bedding in dining room because of damp

A FAMILY who are bedding down in a relative’s dining room because mould and damp problems have forced them out of their rented home have described their situation as an “absolute nightmare”.

Philip Richardson, fianc� Vicki Young and five-month-old daughter Jessica were living in Millstream Close, Hitchin and discovered that their house was covered in mould.

An independent proof specialist who checked the house said that it was unliveable and in no state for a young baby to live in, with a health visitor also condemning the property.

But an NHDC Environmental Health Inspector claimed that there was no problem, resulting in the family stuck with the property for at least another month.

The family are now living in Cheshunt at Miss Young’s grandmother’s, and Mr Richardson, who cannot drive, could be forced to leave his job as a chef in Letchworth GC because he is unable to get there and back.

“We just feel let down by the council,” said Mr Richardson, who suffers from the condition ankliosing spondilitis, which restricts his movement.

“When the damp and mould was tested it went off the scale and we were told we shouldn’t under any circumstance have a child there.

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“The carpet is covered in it, and you can smell it as soon as you walk in. I’m going to have to find another job, as I’m being left out of pocket from making my way home from work.

“Since we’ve moved out, my fianc� has been pretty good with her asthma but before she was really ill. I feel like I could cry. We just don’t know where to go from here.

“We can’t afford to put a deposit down anywhere else, so we’re stuck. I don’t know where to go or what to do.”

NHDC, who has received the report from the damp specialist, found the property for Mr Richardson under its Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

“Mr Richardson is renting privately and the condition of the property is a matter for the landlord,” said Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC portfolio holder for housing.

“We do appreciate Mr Richardson’s concerns, especially for his young child, regarding damp in his property. That is why we sent one of our Environmental Health Officers to investigate the matter.

“His conclusion was that the damp in the property was not so serious as to warrant immediate action and we have to respect the opinion of this qualified and experienced professional.

“Mr Richardson is obviously able to look for a new place to live at the end of the tenancy - as would any other private tenant - giving the one month notice required in the tenancy agreement once he has found alternative accommodation.

“We have said that we may be able to help with a small loan for part of the deposit on a new home should he wish to do that.”

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