A couple who claim they were left battling "extreme mould and damp" for five months in their Norwich three-bed house say they are "hugely relieved" to have secured compensation from their ex-landlord.

Magdalena Meza Mitcher and Ben Skelton, both 23, enlisted the help of community union ACORN after they say attempts to get rent reimbursement - and cover for personal items damaged by mould - fell on deaf ears.

Within weeks of moving into the Aylsham Road mid-terrace in September 2020, they noticed damp and black mould appearing on the walls. Due to a price dispute between the landlord and her letting agent Pymm & Co, works to fix the problem weren't carried out until January - but even then were what the tenants termed "inadequate quick-fixes".

%image(14443887, type="article-full", alt="They said the mould in the back bedroom was particularly severe. Works completed in January, four months into their tenancy, did fix a leak and help resolve the problem - but the mould simply "grew back" in the other affected rooms of the property")

%image(14443889, type="article-full", alt="Mould at the property which was partly resolved four months into the tenancy after a leak was repaired")

%image(14443890, type="article-full", alt="Damp on the walls at the property which the tenants reported to Pymm & Co")

On May 21, their former landlord Ruth Friedman paid the couple the £980 they had been asking for since February when they moved out. Pymm & Co, meanwhile, said they had issued a written apology to the tenants "for the landlord's lack of action".

Ms Friedman said she hadn't paid because she agreed with the tenants' claim, but because of ACORN's "inappropriate" tactics and the way they attacked her professional life on Facebook, adding that she had already given the tenants a rent reduction of 20pc for December and January.

She said: "I came to understand I was not just in a dispute with my ex-tenants but a well-organised national network with a vision to fundamentally change how property ownership is structured.

"As I am only a single property landlord, renting out my previous home in Norwich while I live abroad, I did not want to get caught up in their wider campaign.

"I decided to pay the claim in full and heard from both ACORN and the ex-tenants the matter was now closed."

Ms Friedman added that she was very happy with her new letting agency, which had resolved all outstanding issues and better supported her new tenants.

Ms Meza Mitcher and Mr Skelton, however, said: "The union, through their social media campaign against Ruth and their picketing of Pymm & Co, empowered us to get compensation for the extreme damp and mould we put up with for months.

%image(14443891, type="article-full", alt="The tenants had to throw out multiple pairs of shoes at the end of last year which became mouldy after being left in the porch")

%image(14443892, type="article-full", alt="Mould on the curtain at the tenants' property at the end of last year")

%image(14443893, type="article-full", alt="Damp walls in the tenants' privately-rented property, which returned even after works were completed in January")

"It's a huge relief to have the money and we're glad it's finally over."

An ACORN spokesperson echoed: "We have been able to use our collective strength to win what Magdalena and Ben deserved. The system does not work in our favour, but when we work together as a community we become too big to ignore."

%image(14443894, type="article-full", alt="Magdalena Meza Mitcher (left) and Ben Skelton")

%image(14443895, type="article-full", alt="ACORN Union members protest about landlords outside Pymm & Co estate agents and lettings in Norwich")