‘My children are always coughing’ - Council knew of conditions in horror flats before family moved in
- Credit: Archant
A council knew of the terrible conditions inside a Thetford block of flats before new tenants, including four children and a baby moved in, it has emerged.
The revelation comes after current and former tenants of the block, which is privately owned and rented, came forward with their stories of living in Glebe Close, Thetford.
Angelkia Miko, 27, who lives in the top floor flat with her five children, said she had to take her daughter to hospital when she began to struggle to breathe and has had to throw away hundreds of pounds of toys and clothes due to the mould.
Speaking through a translator she said: 'I am depressed and really sad and really stressed because my children live here and breathe it in.
'They are always coughing and are bad sleepers because of that. They are all having problems.'
Breckland District Council confirmed environmental health officers visited the top floor flat as early as March 2018 and said issues were identified as a result of the inspection, but refused to go into detail.
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Questions over the council's handling of the situation have been raised, however, after a letter seen by this newspaper shows that a psychiatric consultant of one of the tenants branding the flat unfit to live in after being visited by a resident.
The letter states: 'Her clothing smelt of mould and this continued to linger in my consulting room long after she had left.
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'[Her housing] appears to be a provision that is unfit for human habitation.'
However, Breckland said it has no record of a report from the consultant.
The former tenant, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he visited the council to see housing officers in May last year.
He claimed that at that meeting, two housing officers promised no new tenants would move into their flat until improvement work had been carried out.
Breckland Council said it had no record of the conversation with the housing officers taking place.
However, four months later Ms Miko, 27, and David Michalewicz, 21, and their five children, Fabian, 9, Hubert, 6, Igor, 5, Lena 4, and ten-month-old Olivia moved in.
Within weeks they say they were dealing with black mould and water regularly pouring down the roof and walls when it rained.
Ms Miko and her partner said they are paying £600 a month to landlord Rick Player in rent and an extra £500 on bills including heating.
Ms Miko said she keeps the window to her kitchen and bedroom open all day, even in the middle of winter, but nothing she does keeps the mould away.
Ms Miko said she was also told by Mr Player that work to replace the windows and install heating would begin within a month of moving in with a makeshift contract signed by the landlord.
The tenants claim a builder came round for a quote but the work never took place.
When this newspaper visited the building we saw evidence of terrible living conditions inside one of the apartments, including no fire alarm, black mould covering the walls, and rotten window frames,
A spokesman for Breckland confirmed housing officers have requested access to the flats next week and plan inspections of each flat and communal areas.
They added: 'Once this meeting has taken place and an assessment of the property condition has been assessed, the council will consider the options available and take further action if required.'
The council also confirmed enforcement action could be taken if improvements since last year's inspection have not been made and said they were considering their options.
Mr Player refused to comment for this article but earlier this month blamed tenants for the issues.
He said since he had owned the block they had been re-roofed, windows had been replaced and the flats refurbished.