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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 14 November, 2019
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Mother forced to live in one room with kids as mould takes over rented apartment

Experts say tenants on rent supplement are often afraid to speak up about issues to landlords as they have nowhere else to go.

10941701_10203176897577323_910168393_n A picture from a bedroom in the mother-of-two's house. Source: Noeleen Reilly

A MOTHER-OF-two in north Dublin has been forced to sleep on a mattress in the living room of her rented apartment with her children as mould has taken over all the bedrooms.

Kate* has been living in the two bed apartment since spring last year and first noticed mould appearing on the walls in the summer.

When I came in first I thought “I love this place, it’s like a dream” and next of all it’s like hell.

Source: Noeleen Reilly

The walls in both her bedroom and that of her two young children are now covered in mould.

“You can smell the dampness out of it, it’s just disgusting,” she told TheJournal.ie. “It’s vile, there are no other words for it”.

We’re just living in the sitting room on the mattress and we have to keep our clothes between the living room and the kitchen so they don’t get the smell. It’s a health risk as well.

The mother of two said the apartment had been freshly painted when she first moved in and she believes the mould may have been hidden by this at first. She explained her letting agent has changed three times since she moved in and her landlord has not responded to a request from an environmental health officer to attend to the problem.

Source: Noeleen Reilly

Kate said she has tried looking for another place to live but with rents still on the rise and only small numbers of landlords accepting rent supplement, she has had no luck.

Vulnerable

Local Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly, who was contacted by Kate about her problem, said this is one of the worst cases she has seen and it has become a wide-scale problem.

“I’ve seen lots of it and people are just so afraid to speak out because the isn’t anywhere else for them to go. They don’t want to become homeless so many just put up with it,” she said.

Reilly also said many tenants are not aware of their rights when it comes to standards in the properties they rent.

In 2014, standards and repairs was the single biggest issue that housing charity Threshold dealt with. Gary Byrne, who is an assistant manager for the charity, told TheJournal.ie that tenants hoping to access rent supplement are “particularly vulnerable” as they have access to a much smaller share of the market.

“Sometimes tenants are fearful of reporting issues but the law does prevent landlords from penalising tenants for complaints,” he explained. Threshold’s advice is to bring complaints to landlords and with issues like mould, to take their problem to their local authority, which has responsibility for enforcement.

Many of the problems in the current rental market centre around the spiralling rent prices, which Bryne said is “feeding into everything”.

“Unfortunately, there’s no short-term light on the horizon, only medium to long-term solutions and that’s why we’re hoping for rent stabilisation to address the wider supply issue.”

*The identity of the woman in the article is known to TheJournal.ie but she did not wish to be named.

Read: Here’s a breakdown of how many people get rent supplement – county by county>

Read: This infographic shows which groups in Ireland are struggling most>

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