Sue Scott has a number of severe health conditions affecting her breathing, but has lived in a home with a hole in the roof for almost a year, despite repeated complaints to the council.
Image: PlymouthLive/BPM MEDIA)
A family who reported a hole in their roof almost a year ago are facing a hellish Christmas after it was never fixed and ‘black mould’ began growing.
Sue Scott lives in the property in Gunnislake, Cornwall, with her her two daughters Lisa and Shannia, who reported the damage in January 2021.
The mum has a number of serious health conditions including severe asthma, COPD, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and Shannia moved back home to care for her mum and sister.
But despite a number of complaints over the year, they say the problem is yet to be resolved, and has led to what they say is “thick black mould” growing through the property.
Shannia told Plymouth Live that after reporting the damage to Cornwall Housing a contractor inspected the property and said the “roof was unsafe” and possibly not even attached to the structure beneath.
But since then, and despite more than 100 phone calls to the council, Shannia claims authorities have come up with “excuse after excuse” as to why they can’t fix the roof.
Cornwall Housing has apologised to the family and claimed a backlog caused by the pandemic is why the damaged roof still has not been repaired.
During the summer months, Shannia said her family were forced to have the heating on ‘full blast’, because their home was so damp.
She said: “We even had to have the heating on throughout summer because it was so damp and it would get cold throughout the night.
“When you go to sleep you can actually hear the beams in the loft moving. It feels so unsafe.”
Her mum’s room is the most damaged, Shannia said , as it is directly beneath the hole.
She said: “The water damage in my mum’s room is visible, the wall is actually starting to crumble on the inside. I found that water has actually gone through an electrical plug socket in my mum’s room.
“Sentimental and very old furniture has actually been destroyed – the legs have just corroded away.”
Since reporting the issue, Shannia said other properties in the area have had contractors come out to fix their houses and every neighbour has received new solar panels.
Due to the condition of her mum’s house it meant Shannia’s family missed out on receiving the new solar panels.
She said: “All our neighbours have had solar panels put on and unfortunately we lost out on that because of the hole in the roof. We were told it wasn’t safe to have solar panels.”
The property is also exacerbating existing health conditions, as each of them suffer from severe asthma, including Shannia’s late brother who died after suffering an asthma attack 18 years ago.
Shannia said: “We’ve all had very bad asthma and we’ve become ill because of the damp in the house. Our doctors actually wrote a letter to our council to say how ill our health had become.
“My sister’s bedroom is so full of black mould I had to clean it myself, she can’t use that room because it’s too damp and cold.
“The wallpaper is all coming off the wall. Her mattress on her bed, her clothes and shoes, which she saved her money for, were all covered in black mould. Her mattress, I turned her mattress over, and there was thick mould all over it.
“With her having severe asthma she cannot sleep in there, she’s up half the night coughing and struggling to breathe.”
“Even sentimental items which belonged to our brother were covered in mould. My younger sister had a jumper which was my brothers and it was thick in mould and all over her teddies, it was all over the walls and the floor and it really upset her. It’s taken me ages to clean it without damaging the jumper.
“We’ve had to put all the clothes in the living room where I’m sleeping on the sofa and my younger sister is sleeping on the floor with me.
“All year she’s not been able to sleep in her room. She had a friend stop over but they were both coughing throughout the night.
“There’s no room to even put a bed in the living room because all our clothes are in there, we’ve got a chest of drawers piled on top of each other because there’s no room for anything else to go.”
Although the property is owned by Cornwall Council the property is managed by Cornwall Housing which operates separately but on behalf of the council.
After PlymouthLive contacted Cornwall Housing a contractor was sent out to visit the house the next morning.
After inspecting the roof ourselves it appears the contractor has patched the roof temporarily ahead of more extensive work which Cornwall Housing has said will take place next week.
A spokesperson from Cornwall Housing released the following statement.
The full statement read: “We are sorry that Ms Scott has had a delay in repairs to her home. Due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, we are still working to deliver a backlog of works on our properties which is continuing to have an effect on our scheduling.
“We are working on an action plan to ensure this doesn’t continue in the future. Our contractor will be in touch today to see what can be done until we can complete the works in the new year.
“Scaffolding will be erected next week and we anticipate the work, to re-roof the property, will be started by the end of the first week in the new year.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.