A mum of five living with her family in a house riddled with damp and mould claims the council has done little to tackle the problem.
Sinead De Lobel said the conditions in the three-bedroom property in Dickens Road, Gravesend, are so bad that she has to cover the wall next to her eldest son’s bed with a blanket to stop water seeping through.
The 43-year-old, who works as a canvasser for a double glazing firm, said Gravesham council first treated the house for damp six years ago but the problems returned and, despite three surveys on the house, council workmen have in the past four months done little more than strip wallpaper in her living room and hallway.
Mrs De Lobel said she is now near breaking point and cannot face another winter in the house with her husband, Adam, 37, and children aged between 15 and two, the youngest of whom suffers from asthma.
She is applying for alternative council accommodation.
“The conditions are appalling. The wallpaper is peeling off, tiles are falling off the wall in the kitchen and my cupboards and shelves are mouldy and rotting," she said.
"To say it is damp is an understatement. I have tried doing a house swap but the council wouldn’t let me because it was also a three-bed and said it would be overcrowded.
“It is diabolical and I am at my wits’ end. My 15-year-old son has to sleep with a blanket against the wall so his bed doesn’t get wet. I can’t move the bed away from the wall because he is in the box room.
“All I want is to move. I don’t want a bigger house, I just want a better house, one without damp.”
Mrs De Lobel has been a tenant there for 11 years. When the Messenger visited her, mould was visible along the skirting board and creeping up the plaster, behind her sink and on her washing machine and the stench from the damp in eldest son Drue’s room was overpowering.
Mrs De Lobel said the conditions were also affecting her two-year-old son Callum’s asthma and has a supporting letter from her doctor.
Her worries are exacerbated by her husband having suffered a nervous breakdown after he was tied up and threatened with baseball bats by two masked raiders during a robbery at a newsagent’s in New Ash Green almost three years ago.
Despite Mr De Lobel not working and the couple having to care for five children, they have saved money to decorate but cannot see the point until the damp issue is resolved.
Mrs De Lobel has also written to Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, who recognised it was “a stressful situation”, but did not have the power to influence Gravesham council on housing matters.
Mrs De Lobel said: “I pay my rent, I pay my council tax and I go to work. My husband doesn’t even take jobseeker’s allowance.
“I am the sole breadwinner and I’m exhausted by it all. I don’t know where to turn. If I didn’t have the damp I would be happy to stay here.”
A council spokesman confirmed the property had been surveyed and contractors instructed to carry out remedial work, including the installation of new ventilation fans.
He said poor ventilation was often the cause of damp problems and tenants and householders were advised to ensure good air flow in their properties, particularly where clothes were being dried or tumble dryers used.
Of Mrs De Lobel's wish for a house transfer, the spokesman said: "She has been informed that she does not meet the criteria at present and has been told how she can to ensure that she does qualify."
At the time of speaking to the Messenger, the council said Mrs De Lobel had not responded to its requests.