A Minster mum-of-four says her tiny flat is now so overcrowded it has become a fire hazard.
Charlotte Snook is having to sleep in her sitting room with her four-month-old baby while partner Shane has one bedroom with daughter Sophie, three, and her 13-year-old daughter Carly and 11-year-old son Harry have to share the other bedroom.
The security worker appealed to Thanet council to move the family last year due to damp and mould which soaks every room and is made worse by the overcrowding.
The 33-year-old has lived in the flat for 11 years but says the damp and mould issue began six years ago. She says she always uses a tumble dryer rather than hanging washing indoors and has had numerous mould washes, extra vents installed and used fans but the problem continues.
And now the arrival of baby Sienna has meant having a cot in the sitting room as well as new furniture, ready for a house move that hasn’t happened, packing out the hallway.
Charlotte, who has been bidding for a new home without success, said: “It is really bad. My daughter has completely changed over the last few months and is now so unhappy. When I asked (the housing officer) how long it will take to get somewhere, weeks, months, years, he just said ‘hopefully not years.’
“The fire assessor has been out because we are so overcrowded. I had to move the front room around and now the door can’t be shut and we had to take off the kitchen one. There are boxes in the hall because we thought we were getting a new home in Manston so bought furniture as all our things have been ruined by the damp and mould and there are problems with the electrics as each room only has one socket so we have to use extension leads.”
Charlotte is keeping baby Sienna’s clothes in the boot of her car because of the mould in her home and says she has had to go to the doctor due to mounting anxiety.
Thanet councillor Reece Pugh has attempted to help the family and says he has been “ pushing for Charlotte to be reassessed” but without results.
A housing officer visited Charlotte last year to discuss her property issues and housing needs, including any additional support that may be required, but said she was not eligible for a management move – which is being rehoused in exceptional circumstances such as not being safe in a current property.
However, she is in housing band B which means the family are rated as having serious housing needs. The banding is the one required for currently available council housing in Manston.
A Thanet council spokesperson said:”While we are unable to comment on individual cases, we can confirm that available homes are advertised on KentHomeChoice and allocated to those most in need. We operate a banding system to establish the levels of need.
“When a number of households that are in the same band all place bids on homes, we allocate based upon how long each household has been in that band for. Lettings are fair and transparent , decision making reflects the council’s Allocations Policy.
“Unsuccessful households should continue to bid for homes that become available and consider all housing options available to them.
“The council’s homes are managed by East Kent Housing, who arrange to inspect homes where tenants complain about condensation issues. They offer detailed advice about managing moisture and condensation in the home. They also ensure that there are not faults or outstanding repairs required and that mechanical ventilation is working in both the kitchen and bathroom.”
There are currently some 2612 households on Thanet’s housing waiting list.
UPDATE: Charlotte and her family moved into a new home in October 2020