Pregnant mother forced to live in mouldy Church Street flat hell

Creeping mould has made single mum and two-year-old daughter’s flat uninhabitable

A pregnant 24-year-old single mother is being forced to live in a mould-infested flat in St John’s Wood while she waits to see if she will be rehoused by Westminster Council.

Creeping mould in the Westmacott House flat of Hayley Wilson has meant the flat has become uninhabitable for her and her two-year-old daughter.

Despite a string of visits, reports and instructions from environmental health officers at the council, landlord Milazim Recica has failed to resolve the mould problems and the council is now taking enforcement action against him.

Ms Wilson, who is due to be evicted from the property on April 17, said: “It’s a safety risk to me and my daughter.”

The five months pregnant Ms Wilson and her daughter Ella, two, have lived in the ground floor flat for almost three years. Problems started seven months after she moved in, when mould developed in the bathroom. It increased until the bathroom was unusable and she and her daughter had to bathe at her grandmother’s house nearby.

A visit from Environmental Health officers last year produced a report ordering landlord Mr Recica to treat the mould and install suitable ventilation in the bathroom.

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Ms Wilson said: “He scrubbed the walls and painted over it. He didn’t treat the mould at all. In the past year it has come back.”

This year, mould also spread to Ella’s playroom, covering the walls entirely. Another environmental report judged there was a Category 1 hazard – the highest level – posing a serious safety risk.

“The walls are literally black. They said it was a Category 1 house that we shouldn’t be in. It said the landlord should treat the mould, but he has made no attempt to arrange anything,” Ms Wilson said.

Environmental Health officer Trevor Williams issued a report on March 8, which stated: “I propose to serve an improvement notice to the landlord to carry out insulation work within the first bedroom and improve ventilation to the flat.”

Ms Wilson believes the landlord is unlikely to take any action until she has left the property.

“I’m meant to be evicted on April 17, but the council told me I can’t leave until he issues a bailiff’s warrant which I need to get rehoused,” she said.

Ms Wilson will appear at Central London County Court today to fight her appeal for rehousing by Westminster Council.

Westminster North MP Karen Buck said: “This is utterly unacceptable. It is absolutely incumbent on the landlord. It’s very worrying indeed if someone is being left in this condition. However, Westminster environmental health are very good and they have the power to force landlords to comply if necessary.”

Steve Harrison, Westminster Council’s head of premises management, said: “We recently re-inspected this property and it was clear that damp and mould problems had not been fixed. We are now in the process of taking enforcement action and will issue an improvement notice in the coming days so works are carried out as soon as possible.”

Mr Recica said: “There is no problem with the flat. She is making all this up. She never opens the windows. I lived there for over 10 years with three kids – they were all born there and they are all healthy.”