Mum living in house plagued by mold – and it’s even growing on children’s toys


Shelley Wilcox has been promised the rising damp would be tackled and a broken front door when she bought the property, but the problems persist despite decorating

A plastic doll is covered in mold in Shelley Wilcox's home
A plastic doll is covered in mold in Shelley Wilcox’s home

A mum-of-five fears for her children’s health as they live in a property plagued by damp with mold even growing on their toys.

Shelley Wilcox cannot keep up with the rate at which moldy spores grow in her damp home.

She has been promised the rising damp and would be tackled and a broken front door when she bought the property, reports Gloucestershire Live.

But despite decorating her home in Cotswolds, Gloucestershire with mold resistant paint and regularly cleaning the affected areas with bleach, the problems persist.

Her housing provider, Bromford, has sent staff in the past to assess the damp situation, and as a result, Miss Wilcox, 40, claims she was told there were “too many people breathing in the house.”

Mold spores thrive on moistures
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Getty Images/iStockphoto)

She said: “The last straw was when my daughter went to find her dolls and she came to me so upset and distraught when they were literally covered in mould.

“I put the dolls in the wash and one had to go in the bin, the other one I am having to scrub in hope I can get the spores out of it for her.

“The children and I have put up with the mold and problems in the property for seven years.

“They tried to tell me it was because I have fish tanks but they finally admitted some time ago there is rising damp in the property.

“When we moved in, I used mold resistant paint but even with that, I have ended up having to decorate my lounge five times in the past seven years.

“The mold is so bad it ruins the furniture and I am on my third sofa since I moved in.”

She outlined a large number of issues in the property and claims the damp is spreading and mold is thriving because the cause of the problem is not being addressed.

She said: “I have had to replace furniture, toy units, and even pots and pans.

“The cupboards which are built onto the wall which meets the external wall are really bad with damp. The pots and pans just go so rusty quickly.

“I wash everything before I use it, just in case. Before now, I have washed the pans and even then you were able to smell the mold coming from the baking trays.”

Miss Wilcox feels if the problems had been addressed as promised when she moved in, the issues would not have developed into what they are today.

Rising damp, she believes is the main source of the problems, but not the only one.

She said: “I need to get out of here. The damp proof course is not there.

“The corner of the front room where my little girl’s toy box is, that is where she found her doll and underneath it, the floor is peeling up and rotten from the mould.

“They have told where the damp proof course is, it is in the wrong place.”

Miss Wilcox feels she has been told too many conflicting things by various contractors, surveyors and Bromford housing officers.

She said: “I have had people from Bromford come out to tell me ‘there are too many people breathing in the home’. What do they expect me to do with the children? Get rid of them?

After her eldest child moved out recently, the mum has four little ones living with her, two boys and two girls whose ages range from four months to seven years old.

But she is worried they are being affected by the damp and mold.

Miss Wilcox said: “I keep a really clean house. People who have come in to do repairs say how immaculate it is and it should be as I clean it every day,

“I am constantly cleaning and washing. But the baby and my 21-month-old little one seem to always have runny noses and are poorly.

“It is just horrible living here. You walk into the living room and you would not think there is a problem but when I pull the furniture out you can see the mould.

“The worst of the problem is in the bedrooms and by my son’s cot.

“Bleach seems to be the only thing that gets it off but I get a headache from how often I am doing that.”

Not only is the damp an issue, but condensation also builds up in the double glazing windows as the seals are also coming away.

Miss Wilcox said: “For the past five years, I have not been able to open or close the bathroom window properly. It has been locked open the whole time.

“The extractor fan works but drips water on your head when you brush your teeth on the colder days.

“I was promised as well when I moved and accepted the home I would have the windows, door and the external walls sorted but nothing has happened.”

To add to the catalog of issues, Miss Wilcox describes her front door as a ‘fire hazard’.

She said: “The door is so bad that in the winter it swells with damp so you cannot open it.

“Then, when the better weather comes along, you can see the cracks on the outside with daylight pouring in.

“Now I have had people visit at least four times to fix the door and they have not been able to.

“I mentioned to one of the Bromford surveyors about how dangerous it was you could see daylight coming through and the door was weak and someone could break the door if they kicked it.

“Their reply was ‘you could break any door down nowadays if you kicked it’. What good is that?

Miss Wilcox has been trying her best to maintain a clean and happy living situation but is desperate for change and a clean home for her family.

She said: “I am trying so hard; I feel a failure as a mother and I am so stressed. This home was meant to be perfect for us but is inadequate because of the promises that were broken.

“I clean and clean all day and look after my children but I just feel like all of us are living in a dirty home.”

The housing provider has apologized to Miss Wilcox for the problems she has been facing.

Bromford’s associate director of localities, Dave Grinter, said: “I would like to apologize for the delays Miss Wilcox has experienced in trying to get these issues resolved.

“We have been in contact with Miss Wilcox over the past week to try to finally resolve some of these issues for her.

“We have arranged an independent surveyor to her home today (Thursday) to carry out another survey to identify the causes of the damp she has been suffering so we can find a permanent solution for them.

“We have already started to remove the ivy that is growing on her walls and will complete this work on Friday.

“Twelve months ago, our neighborhood coach assisted Miss Willcox in setting up an account on the council’s choice-based lettings so she could apply to move to a new property, due to being overcrowded in her current home.

“All our homes and those of other housing associations, are available to bid through this system and we would encourage her to do so to find a home that is more suitable to the size of her family.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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