Our flat is killing us’: Terrified mother, 22, says black mould-riddled council home has seen her three-year-old son develop asthma leaving him ‘coughing so much he throws up’… in stark echo of tragic death of little Awaab Ishak
- Macy Tyler, 22, lives in a council flat in Basildon with her three-year-old son
- The bathroom ceiling has been caked in black mould for two years
- The family are developing health problems like asthma and alopecia
- Ms Tyler told LBC she would rather live on the streets than stay in mouldy flat
A single mum who lives in a black mould infested flat with her three-year-old son said she is ‘petrified’ as the fungus causes her child to vomit.
Macy Tyler, 22, lives in a flat provided by Redbridge Council in Basildon with her son.
The ceiling of the bathroom has been covered by black mould for more than two years and is causing asthma and alopecia.
A broken extraction fan has made the damp problem even worse.
Ms Tyler told LBC that she would rather live on the street with her son than spend any more time in the infested flat.
‘It’s toxic, this home is slowly killing us. I just want to get out, I’d rather live on the street than spend any more time here.’
Macy Tyler, 22, and her three-year-old son, have been living with the black mould for two years. She said she is ‘petrified’ after learning of the sad case of Awaab Ishak, who died just over a week after his second birthday
The single mother said she would rather live on the streets than continue living in the damp-ridden flat. Redbridge Council have said they are arranging for the flat to be cleaned and repaired
The ceiling of the council flat has been covered in black mould for more than two years, Ms Tyler said, which has led to the family developing health conditions
The black mould has caused health problems for the family. Ms Tyler said her son would vomit from the coughing caused by his asthma
Ms Tyler said her son vomits from the coughing triggered by his asthma, which is made worse by the black mould.
A letter from the family’s GP states that Ms Tyler has been struggling with anxiety and depression as a result of the condition of the flat.
She has also been referred for treatment for alopecia caused by the mould. Her three-yer-old son has developed breathing problems and is now prescribed an inhaler.
The letter asks that the young family be rehoused as ‘a matter of priority’ as the doctor says that they are very worried about their health.
A letter from the family doctor recommends that they be rehoused as ‘a matter of priority’ as the mould is severely impacting their mental and physical health
In a statement a Redbridge Council spokesperson said the condition of the flat was unacceptable and apologised to the young family for the delay.
The spokesman added the property was managed by an independent letting agent who was failing to meet expectations.
The council said it had contacted the agent nine times and would be suspending payments.
The spokesman continued that Ms Tyler had been contacted and is arranging for her home to be cleaned and repaired.
‘We are currently carrying out a review of all properties to ensure work is being completed as it should. We must stress that our tenants’ safety and welfare is our number one priority, and we work hard to remedy issues when they emerge. On this occasion the time taken is inexcusable.’
Ms Tyler said she had become more worried about her son’s health after learning of the death of Awaab Ishak in 2020.
Awaab Ishak tragically died from a respiratory condition in December 2020, just over a week after his second birthday
The inquest into his death heard that the mould was so bad fungus was discovered in his lungs and even his blood
Awaab Ishak died in December 2020 in Rochdale after he developed severe breathing problems that were caused by mould fungus in his blood and lungs, an inquest heard last week.
Michael Gove yesterday wrote to every English council leader and social housing provider to warn that deaths like that of two-year-old Awaab Ishak must ‘never be allowed to happen again’.
The Housing Minister said councils and housing providers must stop hiding behind legal process and take prompt action when complaints are made.
Mr Gove described the death of the two-year-old as an ‘avoidable loss’ and said firmer action was even more important in the context of the cost-of-living crisis.
‘All of us – including my department – need to deliver our responsibility to people living in poor quality housing.
‘That is why I am writing to you to request you do everything in your power to prioritise the improvement of housing conditions for the millions of private and social tenants, in line with existing duties in the Housing Act 2004.
‘This becomes ever more urgent as we go into winter with a cost-of-living and energy crisis, which may exacerbate damp and mould conditions in some homes.’
Mr Gove added: ‘The tragic death of Awaab Ishak has rightly shocked people across the country. This is an appalling case of the utmost gravity and it is abhorrent that anyone should have to live in such conditions in Britain today.’
Mr Gove previously singled out housing providers Clarion, Southern Housing Group, Onward Homes, Catalyst Housing, PA Housing and Johnnie Johnson Housing after an ombudsman found ‘severe maladministration’ within the housing sector.
In June 2020, Mr Abdullah instructed solicitors and initiated a claim over the recurring issue but policy meant any repairs would not be done until an agreement had been reached, the inquest heard
In the last weeks of hid life, Awaab had a continuous cough and could not breathe through his nose at all, despite his parents having begged for help since 2017
Senior Coronor Joanne Kearsley said the mould was due to ‘normal daily living activities’ and a lack of effective ventilation
The inquest heard that RBH, which looked after the home, assumed the family were engaging in ‘ritual bathing’ – claims that were completely untrue and never put to Awaab’s parents
Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy said there was ‘no excuse’ for not making progress on the issue.
‘The circumstances around Awaab Ishak’s death are appalling,’ the Labour MP said.
‘It is a stain on our nation’s conscience that such a thing could happen in modern Britain.
‘There is a political consensus around the urgent need to end the scourge of families living in damp, mouldy and squalid conditions, so there is no excuse for any more delay.
‘As Labour has laid out, we need a decent homes standard fit for the 21st century and greater rights and protections for tenants, including the right to request speedy repairs. Action must be taken urgently.’
Gareth Swarbrick, chief executive of the family’s housing association Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, was sacked by his own board this week after refusing to resign
The letter followed the sacking of Gareth Swarbrick, the chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) which was in charge of the home, after he flat-out refused to resign despite the inquest’s findings the poor conditions were the direct cause of the toddler’s death.
Awaab Ishak’s family repeatedly begged for help from housing officials and doctors to improve the condition of their flat but the serious black mould problem was not fixed.
This left Awaab with ‘prolonged’ and ‘chronic’ exposure to the substance in a home that was ‘not fit for human habitation’.
In her ruling, Senior Coronor Joanne Kearsley found ventilation at the home was ‘not effective’, and criticised RBH for blaming the family- insisting there was ‘no evidence that the ways of living by the family were in any way excessive’.
As she delivered her damning verdict, she told the inquest: ‘I’m sure I’m not alone in having thought, ‘How does this happen? How, in the UK in 2020, does a two-year-old child die from exposure to mould in his home?’.
‘The tragic death of Awaab will and should be a defining moment for the housing sector in terms of increasing knowledge, increasing awareness and a deepening of understanding surrounding the issue of damp and mould.’
His parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, issued a heartbreaking statement saying they ‘shouted as loudly as we could, but nothing changed.’
‘We shouted as loudly as we could, but nothing changed. We were trapped’: Heartbreaking statement from parents who watched their little boy die
Faisal Abdullah issued a statement today, saying: ‘The past two years have been gruelling.
‘When Awaab died, our lives changed forever. Today, two years on, the coroner has found that our little boy’s prolonged exposure to mould led entirely to his death.
‘We still cannot get our head around the fact that despite all of the complaints we made to RBH, in addition to the information RBH received from an NHS member of staff expressing their concern for Awaab due to mould at the property, RBH did absolutely nothing to rectify the severe mould in our property.
‘We cannot tell you how many health professionals we’ve cried in front and RBH staff we have pleaded to expressing concern for the conditions ourselves and Awaab have been living in. We shouted out as loudly as we could, but despite making all of those efforts, every night we would be coming back to the same problem. Nothing was changing.
‘We felt like we weren’t getting anywhere, and we weren’t. Often our calls weren’t even answered. We don’t feel RBH actually cared about us.
‘Awaab’s coughing fits would sometimes last two to three days. There were days we wouldn’t be able to take Awaab out of the house because of how bad his coughing was – but of course by him staying in the house, this made his coughing worse. We were absolutely trapped.
‘Living in these conditions affected every aspect of our lives. We didn’t feel at peace with ourselves when in the property. All the time we felt troubled.
‘We were anxious and fearful of what the mould was doing to Awaab. Whenever friends would come to visit, they would tell us that the conditions RBH were keeping us in ‘were not right’.
‘We have no doubt at all that we were treated this way because we are not from the country and less aware of how the systems in the UK work. RBH we have a message for you – stop discriminating, stop being racist, stop providing unfair treatment to people coming from abroad who are refugees or asylum seekers, stop housing people in homes you know are unfit for human habitation. We were left feeling absolutely worthless at the hands of RBH.
‘If RBH ever come across similar issues again – we hope they deal with it in a more humane, efficient, professional way than how they behaved with us.
‘We want to end by telling you who our beautiful Awaab was. He was always full of smiles, he liked to joke and was full of life and laughter. He used to enjoy playing on his bike and with his ball. He always wanted to be with us. His absence leaves a huge void.
‘We would like to say a huge thank you for all the advice and support Farleys Solicitors and Christian Weaver of Garden Court North Chambers have given us throughout this difficult process. We would also like to thank HM Senior Coroner for carrying out such a thorough investigation into our son’s death.
‘Our lawyers very kindly worked on our case with no guarantee of payment. The legal aid agency only confirmed that the lawyers would be paid two days before the case started, despite preparations for the case having been ongoing for months and months. It should never be the case that families in our situation have to go through the inquest process without legal representation – singlehandedly up against multiple lawyers from the very bodies we feel bear responsibility for our child’s death.
‘Were it not for our legal team being so committed to representing us, even without payment, that could very well have been our reality. We fear that the admissions made by RBH in this inquest – such as their acceptance that they did receive the letter sent by the NHS health visitor warning of Awaab’s ill heath, along with the fact that they do accept they should have taken responsibility for the mould in our home may otherwise never have come out.
‘The family would now like to be left to process the findings of this inquest in private for the remainder of today.’