month – but Hayley was not in and no further appointment has been made.
“GreenSquare are doing nothing constructive about this. They are not taking me seriously and I want an investigation done into what’s causing this build-up of mould and their assistance in sorting it out. I’ve been talking to them for well over a year and nothing has changed.”
In protest, for a period of time, Hayley withheld some of her rent money to try to force GreenSquare to act. As a result she’s now built up a sum of rent arrears of around £500.
“Although I work I do receive housing benefit. This was cut due to the bedroom tax as it was deemed that my son and daughter should share a room until they are 11. Therefore, this means paying more rent to GreenSquare. I called them to say I was withholding that payment until they had done something about this.”
She claims GreenSquare has told her that her lifestyle may be making the situation worse and that she must properly heat and ventilate the house.
“I have followed the advice with cleaning and special paint – that’s made no difference. I do open windows but I cannot afford to have the heating on more than a few hours a day due to the cost. I’m on a low income so I cannot afford to run up high bills.”
Hayley holds down two part-time jobs – working in a shop and as an early morning cleaner – but she still struggles to make ends meet.
“I’m trying my best and having a house which is not a home is draining. I hate this house, I’m embarrassed and ashamed of the state it’s in.”
The strain of trying to deal with the situation has told on Hayley whose GP has written to GreenSquare, asking them to resolve it speedily. Her GP said: “This seems to be affecting her daughter’s skin and her son’s asthma and it has been causing Hayley a significant amount of mental stress’.
Hayley has now enlisted the support of the charity HEALS UK, which has its main base in Malmesbury. She’s now been advised to resume paying her rent in full, while they help support her in her dispute.
As a result, she’s now visited her neighbours and found that five others are also suffering similar problems.
“I was amazed to find that it’s not just me. One of my neighbours has been struggling with this for more than five years. We’re now sharing information and supporting each other.
“HEALS has been so supportive, without their help and advice I would still be alone trying to deal with this problem unsuccessfully.”
- Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with a cool surface in poorly ventilated areas.
- One of the best ways of stopping it is to insulate lofts and walls and to keep the heating on during cold or damp weather.
- The Direct Works Forum, which works with housing maintenance staff, reported in November last year that 90 per cent of its members reported a rise in complaints of mould, condensation and damp.
- Welfare cuts and fuel poverty have been named as two reasons behind the increase in complaints of this nature.
In response to Hayley Edwards’ situation, Mike Mehaffy, GreenSquare spokesman, said: “We take all genuine maintenance issues seriously and we deal with maintenance requests promptly.
“In February, Miss Edwards contacted GreenSquare again advising us she was still struggling with damp.
"We arranged for a condensation monitoring pack to be delivered, which we have attempted to deliver several times with no success.
"We will continue to try to offer further advice on dealing with the condensation.”