Family's battle after council 'moved them from mould-ridden home to another'

Sara Martin says her family lived in 'horrendous' conditions for nine years before being moved to another mould-plagued house.

An Edinburgh family claim they were moved from one council property riddled with mould to another.  

Sara Martin lives in the Pilton area of the Capital with her four children and partner Alistair Stuart.  

In December 2022, they told STV News that they’d be living in “horrendous” conditions for nearly a decade. 

The family said some of the children had developed medical conditions linked to their breathing, which had worsened since the issues began. 

Less than a month afterwards, City of Edinburgh Council informed the family they’d be moving them to another property as a matter of urgency. 

Sara thought it was the light at the end of the tunnel, but now a year on, she said her family’s ordeal has only continued. 

She told STV News: “When we moved in I could see where there could have been mould, but couldn’t go ‘yeah there’s mould in the corner’ or whatever. 

Areas of mould in the council property

“So I was like ‘yep, we’ll move in no problem.’” 

But it wasn’t long after moving in to the new flat, close by to the previous property, that Sara realised their damp horror was not going to be a distant memory.  

“We started noticing it in my daughter’s room first, there was a smell, and we were like that’s the classic smell,” she said.

“Then we noticed it in the bathroom.” 

Sara and Alastair pulled up the majority of the flooring in the home, as well as tearing down chunks of wallpaper.  

They also thoroughly clean, run a dehumidifier and leave many of the property’s windows open throughout the day. 

Sofa cushions have become sodden with mould

But the wet, damp and mould has persisted, leading the couple to believe there was a deeper problem causing the issue. 

They now are under the impression these problems had been present in the property before they moved in and believe the damage had not been properly repaired.

The pair worry for the children, who have had to grow up in these conditions. 

“It’s hard, physically, emotionally, mentally hard on all of them.” Sara said. 

“To the point they’ve got the headaches, the smell is making them feel sick. 

“It’s just not fair on them, or us.” 

With six people in a three-bedroom flat, Sara and Alistair have turned the living room into a make-shift bedroom for themselves and their youngest daughter.  

Sofa cushions which act as a headboard against the wall have become sodden with mould, meaning they sleep within inches of it each night. 

Alistair has been the primary contact for the council and feels their concerns aren’t listened to. 

Sara and Alistair worry for their children living in mouldy conditions

He said: “You say things to the council and report these things, it doesn’t make an iota what you say to them. 

“It’s so heartbreaking. 

“You don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to say. 

“You’re just trying to make things better.” 

The council say they’ve carried out work to discover if the property has any underlaying problems causing damp and mould, but say nothing has been found.  

But prompt work is set to take place to address the damage. 

Councillor Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, said: “I’m always sorry to hear about families who are suffering from this at home and our officers will do everything they can to help.

“We take the health and wellbeing of our tenants very seriously and condensation can cause a lot of problems which lead to damp. 

“While we have thoroughly surveyed this property and have found no structural concerns that would cause damp, I’m very keen we support the family to address their ongoing issues.

“Officers will carry out a clean to remove the mould this week and redecorate the areas that have been affected.” 

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