A mum who reported to her housing association that a damp patch in her bathroom was spreading and becoming a bigger issue claims she was initially told contractors would only carry out a full repair if the ceiling was falling through.

Jo Alexander, of Millers Court, Croydon said the mould has now spread to her entire bathroom and attracts flies into her newly built flat.

Ms Alexander, a homelessness support worker, lives at the flat with her autistic eight-year-old son.

Your Local Guardian: Jo Alexander poses for photos in her flat in Croydon in south London, Britain, 13 February2024. Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon.

Despite regular communication with Southern Housing, she claims her housing provider has not acted quickly enough to stop the mould which she claims has left her family with respiratory problems.

After the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) contacted Southern Housing they said an emergency call was made to the property this week by a contractor as part of ‘immediate steps’ to sort out the problem.

But Ms Alexander says she’s been complaining about it for months. Speaking to the LDRS Ms Alexander said: “We have been left in a disgusting situation via Southern Housing who have [not done enough] about the ongoing damp, leak, black and white fluffy mould within our bathroom.

"We are now awaiting the day our ceiling collapses before they take this seriously.

“First of all, they told me that it was the flat above that was leaking through, then a contractor came out last week and said ‘I don’t know why they told you that’.

"The property upstairs has tiles in their bathroom that have cracked, so every time they shower water comes through and causes damage.

“They had to move the light for health and safety reasons. All the water from upstairs keeps pouring through the mains and they said this could trip the electricity.

"Everything they do here will be a quick fix, nothing will change until they fix the bathroom upstairs and they’ve given me no date when that’s going to happen.”

Ms Alexander first lodged the complaint for a small damp issue at the bottom of her bathroom at the end of summer 2023.

Southern Housing subsequently sent a contractor in the following months, who she says only carried out surface-level mould washes despite her telling them the issue would require more work.

Ms Alexander told the LDRS the contractor admitted to her that the ceiling needed structural repair or it may run the risk of collapse.

She then claims to have experienced several months of delay as Southern sent round surveyors to assess the mould.

She told the LDRS: “There’s no point in them coming back time and time again, the whole thing needs redoing.

"When I called they said they were waiting on the surveyor’s report to come in and see how much it costs. In the meantime, we just suffer.”

Ms Alexandra says she has to light incense sticks to try and counteract the smell of the damp in her flat.

The smell from the bathroom ceiling, which greets you as soon as you walk through the front door of the flat, has also had a noticeable impact on their health.

“I suffer from asthma, and that has been ongoing. My son has a chesty cough, and when he sneezes it goes everywhere. This mould is really bad for both of us.”

Along with her and her son, Ms Alexandra said her cat, Gucci, has been affected by the mould.

She said: “One of my cat’s fur has fallen out. When I took him to the vet last week they said it could be the toxins in the mould that are causing his fur to fall out.

“The fur on his tail is falling out and his belly is going bald, this is not normal for a ragdoll cat.

"He also vomits every other day and he never used to before this; I spent nearly £300 on vet bills for him because of this. I’ve told Southern Housing all of this but they have done nothing.”

Other than these recent issues, Ms Alexandra said the council flat has generally been a good place to live.

However, her experiences with the mould have made her question the quality of the building she lives in.

She said: “We were happy when we moved in because we thought it would be nice, but it’s really not. It’s a new building, but it seems like they have used cheap materials to build it.”

Ms Alexandra also told the LDRS about a similar leaking problem that recently affected a nursery below her flat.

She said staff had to evacuate the Tender Care Day nursery after a leak started coming through the ceiling.

Southern Housing has offered Ms Alexandra compensation to the tune of £100, but she says she will not accept this until extensive repairs are undertaken. She told LDRS: “I’m not accepting a stage one complaint.

“They said we would leave it at stage one and offer you £100 in compensation, but it’s not about the money. I don’t want the money, it’s not going to do anything, it’s about this getting resolved.”

A spokesperson from Southern Housing said: “We’re sorry to hear about the mould issue at [Ms Alexandra’s flat at] Millers Court, and understand the concern it has caused for Ms Alexander and her son. Addressing this swiftly is our top priority.

“We’ve taken immediate steps. Our specialist surveyor visited the property yesterday, February 14, as an emergency, and all the affected plasterboard was removed.

"We’ve also arranged for repairs to be carried out to the source of the leak in the flat above on February 19. We’re committed to ensuring Ms Alexander and her son can enjoy a safe and comfortable home again.”