Student says she was forced to leave her room due to mould, but CPS say it’s ‘habitable’

Cardiff student Clara MacDonald was on a long course of antibiotics after a doctor said the mould was contributing to her ill health

A Cardiff student says she has been forced to move out of her uni room due to a dangerous amount of mould, despite letting agency CPS saying the room is “habitable”.

Clara MacDonald, a third-year business management student, first started noticing mould in her student house at the start of the year and immediately alerted CPS via email.

Clara claims she had to move out and stay with a friend after her room became uninhabitable due to furniture being stored on her bed to prevent further mould growth on the walls.

Clara was told by CPS this problem would be amended by a builder, but after she returned to her room, within two weeks the mould had grown back. The mould was so severe that it damaged her personal belongings including her work trainers, which had been destroyed in the space of a week, and other items of sentimental value.

The mould had destroyed one of Clara’s paintings in two weeks

As a result, Clara requested a month’s rent rebate of £410 but CPS said it would be unlikely that any compensation would be provided, saying in an email: “The room is still liveable and again we would not look to compensate you for any rent.”

CPS insisted Clara’s room was habitable, but as a “good gesture” would put the rent rebate request as a choice for the landlord.

She told The Cardiff Tab: “The way CPS handled the situation has made me incredibly angry and upset because I’m being forced to live in conditions which aren’t safe.”

CPS said the mould was due to trapped air within the walls which caused the area to be “slightly damp” and after a contractor cut the walls to allow the air to escape, there was no further cause for mould growth. CPS told Clara that any further mould growth was due to the tenants not opening windows.

At this point, Clara says she was having to clean mould off her walls weekly, despite following the advice from CPS to leave her window and door open whilst having the heating on for a few hours per day.

“CPS make you feel like stupid, irresponsible students when actually we’ve been very responsible and doing everything in our power to help the damp”, she said.

Clara says she was forced to go on a long course of antibiotics after being unable to shake an illness which a GP informed Clara the mould in her room was contributing to. Clara claims her housemates have also been “ill consistently on and off throughout the tenancy”.

After being so disappointed by CPS’ handling of the situation, Clara spoke to a solicitor who advised her to contact Environmental Health.

On how things have been left CPS, Clara said: “The last thing I was told was that it was my responsibility as a tenant to ensure the room was ventilated. I have been ventilating the room and they have ignored my new email about the new mould growth.

“It’s not just my room now either, four of my housemates have mould in their rooms and one has a ceiling leak that CPS have failed to fix.

“A contractor did install some vents around a month ago however this has done nothing and CPS have done nothing to help since.”

Clara said the mould in the house has now grown to be thick white fur and black screen spots all over her furniture, and that the contractor asked CPS to install dehumidifiers but this still hasn’t happened at the time of publication.

A spokesperson for CPS Homes said: “The landlord has tried assisting the tenants by fitting additional vents to allow for air to circulate and sending a contractor to clear the mould, but on our most recent inspection we found the heating was turned off and one tenant was wearing a scarf indoors.

“Prior to every winter period, we issue all tenants with literature on how to prevent the build-up of mould caused by condensation, which is produced in conjunction with Cardiff Council. Fundamental to this advice is keeping properties reasonably heated. Tenants are responsible for switching on their own heating and, whilst we sympathise with the problem of high energy prices, this is something beyond our and landlords’ control. Landlords also have responsibilities in combatting mould, which we firmly believe have been exhausted in this case.

“Properties on this road were built in the early 1900s and, whilst this house has had improvements to bring it up to current standards and regulations in the years since, it does still require continual monitoring for small repairs, so we thank the tenants for keeping us informed of any issues from the outset.

“Finally, we very recently received a report of a suspected leak in an upstairs bedroom. On inspection, there is a small section of render missing on the external wall beneath the guttering, which we suspect is where the leak stems from. The ceiling in the bedroom is currently bone dry and the landlord has authorised a contractor to remedy the rendering this week.”

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