Published: 13:01, 08 January 2016
This decaying council house is so damp its elderly tenants are being warned to dump their furniture and leave immediately.
Surveyors have told David and Marge Quarrinton in no uncertain terms that their home, near Canterbury, is a health risk.
For years the pensioners have suffered chest complaints and skin irritation as toxic mould contaminates walls, carpets, furniture and clothing.
And, despite repeated pleas for help, they say the local authority has merely suggested opening the windows to air the rooms.
An independent survey, commissioned at the family’s expense, concludes their home is uninhabitable and should not be entered without protective clothing.
Surveyors identify rising damp and chronic condensational damp and recommend the majority of the contents be destroyed.
David, 70, said: “Marge has been in and out of hospital with chest infections. It’s becoming intolerable.
“The council tell us to open windows but then the house gets cold. This isn’t just condensation.
“It needs sorting properly.”
The Quarrintons have lived in the property in Grove Road, Preston, for more than 20 years.
They claim they have been plagued by damp issues and have made repeated pleas to the council and its property managers East Kent Housing for help.
With no adequate response, they drafted in Jeff Charlton, of Building Forensics, to conduct an independent survey.
"The property is in my opinion a serious health risk. It is confirmed to have toxic mould present at elevated levels and this is a health hazard" - Jeff Charlton, surveyor
Mr Charlton has found a catalogue of horrors, caused by a long-term lack of maintenance and damp prevention.
Mr Charlton’s damning report concludes: “The property is in my opinion a serious health risk. It is confirmed to have toxic mould present at elevated levels and this is a health hazard.
“Due to the age and advised medical condition of the occupants and obvious serious bio contamination I suggest evacuation from the property which should be confirmed by the medical profession.”
Mr Charlton, an award-winning surveyor, advises only those wearing protective clothing should enter the house.
“The property will require total decontamination,” he writes. “Almost all home contents should be disposed of.
“The landlords have undertaken limited maintenance and have not in my opinion complied with their legal duties and obligations.”
Astonishingly, Mr Charlton suggests the family’s health issues have developed following “landlord repair works which are shown to have caused suspected bio toxin and mould development”.
He even goes on to recommend legal action against the local authority for neglect.
Tracy Quarrinton, who lives in the house with her parents, said: “We’ve complained many times and each time they said it was condensation.
“This report clearly states the problem is a lot worse than that.”
East Kent Housing confirmed it had received Quarrintons’ surveyor’s report and that officers were “going through the findings”.
Bob Granville, head of operations, said: “We have been endeavouring to work with Mr Quarrinton.
“Orders had been placed for works to be undertaken prior to the inspection arranged by Mr Quarrinton, however these works have not been completed as access to the property has not yet been agreed.
“In cases where a tenant is in dispute with a landlord regarding repairs and maintenance, it is normal procedure for our maintenance team to implement ways to resolve such issues.
“However, Mr Quarrinton has chosen not to use that process. East Kent Housing is continuing to work with him.”
More by this authorChris Pragnell