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Housing Disrepair: A Family Home Suffering From Toxic Black Mould.

by Jane Willacey

We were instructed at the end of December 2021 by Mrs W from South London who had been experiencing ongoing disrepair within the leasehold flat that she shared with her young family since 2008. We took her case on under a ’No Win No Fee’ agreement.

In the winter of 2008, our client reported to the freeholder that she had noticed a wet patch on the ceiling of the main bedroom which became progressively worse with each rainfall. The ceiling very quickly became plagued by black mould which subsequently spread to the walls and ceilings in the second bedroom and bathroom.

The disrepair was reported to the freeholder by both telephone and email on a weekly basis for over thirteen years however the freeholder made no attempt to investigate or fix the source of the leak.

By the end of 2021 the black mould and damp was so bad that our client was unable to use the three rooms affected, numerous clothing and soft furnishings had been damaged beyond repair, her children were suffering from constant respiratory infections and the whole family was having to sleep in the living room.

As soon as we took instruction we sent a detailed letter of claim to the council setting out that they were in breach of express and implied terms of tenancy and/or breach of their statutory and common law duties by not adhering to the clauses outlined in the lease regarding the freeholders responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the building.

The freeholders’ solicitors replied to our letter of claim and both parties instructed expert surveyors who undertook their own separate inspections on the property. The experts reported that some of the main issues were but not limited to an Ingress of rainwater in multiple locations from a defective drainage system causing severe damage to ceilings and walls throughout the property plus high levels of humidity, damp and toxic black mould.

The freeholders nominated experts report agreed with our surveyors findings therefore the other party made a part 36 offer to settle out of court, this offer was well below par as were all subsequent offers made at this time therefore, we rejected the offers on behalf of our client and issued court proceedings.

As the hearing date drew closer the other party’s solicitor contacted us with another part 36 offer to settle out of court. The offer that was put forward was still below par but included all repairs to be completed within 120 days. We rejected this offer and made a counteroffer of £10,000.00 in damages plus all repairs to be completed within a much shorter time frame. Our client accepted the offer.

Our client had up until the point of instruction lived with damp and toxic black mould for thirteen years which had caused herself and her young family both mental and physical distress and whilst getting her home back to a live able state was the priority the compensation that our client received came a close second.

For more information on how compensation is generally calculated, read our article on this subject: