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Health & Fitness 'Every time I end up in hospital, I am concerned I will lose my child': pregnant disabled woman sent to A&E by mould

19:40  21 october  2019
19:40  21 october  2019 Source:   inews.co.uk

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A pregnant disabled woman who has been battling to get her estate agents to rid her flat of mould is at her wit's end after being rushed to A & E due to respiratory problems.

24-year-old Kahina Grant, a wheelchair user who also suffers from autoimmune condition lupus, was admitted to hospital on Wednesday after her landlord had failed rid her flat in Feltham, Newcastle, of mould on the walls.

  'Every time I end up in hospital, I am concerned I will lose my child': pregnant disabled woman sent to A&E by mould © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Ms Grant, who is 10 weeks pregnant with her first child, is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of her baby as letting agents Octopus Property and Newcastle City Council have ignored pleas to assist her for the sake of her health over the past three months.

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Health, furniture and clothes destroyed by mould

The PhD student at Newcastle University, who has lived in the flat for six months, was rushed to hospital after she experienced respiratory problems so severe she thought she was having a heart attack.

Her doctor informed her problems breathing are "directly linked" to inflammation in her chest and lungs.

She told i: "On Wednesday night I ended up in accident and emergency due to chest pain and shortness of breath.

The mould has covered the walls of Ms Grant's bedroom (Photo: Kahina Grant)

"The doctor informed me this is directly linked to inflammation in my chest and lungs, clearly due to persistently breathing the mould in my bedroom in for several months.

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"I feel the housing issue is affecting not just my health, but the health of my child, and every time I end up in hospital, I am concerned I will lose my child. As a first-time mother, this is very scary for me, and makes me feel like I cannot provide a safe environment for my child."

"I have been to the doctors three times over the past month about respiratory problems, and I have lupus, so these respiratory issues are a real cause for concern and are exasperating my health problems. I have a persistent cough and am gradually becoming more and more short of breath when walking.

Wears a mask to sleep at night

Ms Grant, who rented the flat from Octopus Property in Feltham, Newcastle, six months ago, said her health problems have become significantly worse since she rented the flat.

She told i her house is filled with slugs and spores, and she has had to throw away seven pairs of shoes because of the mould, and wears a surgical mask to sleep at night.

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I am pregnant with my first and did not feel the baby move until 24 weeks- which is at the late end of the spectrum. At 22 weeks you should have feelt some type of movement. You shouldnt be overly to concerned especially if this is your first child , maybe you just dont know what to expect.

"There have been issues with damp since I first moved in, including issues with slugs which are attracted to the moisture," she said.

"But this has now developed into damp and moisture causing me health problems. But still, I can’t get my landlord to do anything about it. I have also contacted environmental health at Newcastle City Council, who are also not putting any pressure on my landlord to fix this issue in a timely manner."

The PhD student has tried to remove the mould herself, but because the problem is severe, the mould grows back.

"When I clean the mould, it comes back and now it is black in appearance, and it has spread onto my furniture," she told i.

"But I have no where else to go, and my tenancy agreement does not end until April 2020," she told i.

'I am at risk of becoming homeless because it is not safe for me to stay here'

Ms Grant believes the mould is so overwhelming, her child's health would be better protected if she declared homelessness.

As a wheelchair user, Ms Grant has limited access to step-free flats where she can move around freely.

She told i: "When I was looking for this place, the options were so limited. Often able-bodied people choose ground floor flats and never move, which is their choice, but it makes it extremely difficult for disabled people like myself to find somewhere to live."

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"I have exhausted every avenue to get this situation resolved, and at this stage feel I am at risk of becoming homeless because it is not safe for me to stay here. The place needs complete damp proofing and is definitely not fit for someone to live in."

"The whole process has made me feel terrible, I feel trapped. I've even thought about hurting myself rather than dying a slow painful death in this house, and it shouldn't be that way," she added.

The PhD student is in touch with MP Chi Onwurah to put pressure on her letting agents, and now, Ms Grant is considering taking court action.

Under The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, means tenants can take landlords to court over 29 hazards, including inadequate ventilation and light and serious mould and damp caused by structural problems.

Raw deal for renters

"I feel like renters get a very raw deal in this country and there is very little support when we are dealing with rogue landlords," Ms Grant told i.

"I am now looking at taking court action against my landlord so I can get out of this property for mine, and my unborn child’s health."

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said: “We sympathise with the tenant regarding the issues she has been experiencing and have been in regular contact with the property owner to try to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.

“We swiftly arranged to visit the property at a time convenient to the tenant and duly informed the property owner of the actions required.

“During our involvement in this case we have been instructed that works had been arranged at the property and notified when repairs have been made.

“This matter remains under investigation. We appreciate the frustration of the continuing problems and are making every effort to contact the property owner.

“Our Public Protection and Neighbourhoods team works tirelessly to uphold tenants’ rights and will always intervene when appropriate.”

i has contacted Octopus Property for comment.

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