A mother says a widespread black mould infestation has made her flat “unfit for human habitation” and her five-year-old son is now severely ill.

Sinead Pope, 24, has been in the flat in Brighton for four years with son Aziyah, five, and her partner, Takuna, 24.

The family moved into the property in November 2020 and said their torment began three weeks later when mould began to spread “everywhere and in every room”.

The flat in Acacia Court, Herbert Road, Brighton, is privately rented through Brighton estate agent Martin and Co.

Sinead is now battling to get emergency accommodation.

The Argus: The flat, in Acacia Court, is covered in black mouldThe flat, in Acacia Court, is covered in black mould (Image: The Argus)

She said: “No one should be living here and my son’s health has been deteriorating ever since. He was diagnosed with asthma last year, it's been an ongoing issue.

"We're really concerned because now he has enlarged lymph nodes where his body is constantly fighting illness from the mould. He’s being referred to a specialist as we’re concerned that he could have a life-threatening health issue such as cancer.

"I had contacted agency Martin & Co and was told I needed to have windows open, heating on low constantly, run dehumidifier, clean the mould and was even asked to get a tumble dryer."

An inspection by a Brighton and Hove City Council environmental health officer in September said there was “no external defects” and the mould was due to condensation.

After a meeting with the estate agents in December Sinead was offered a deep clean and for work to be completed but she said she turned this down as she was recovering from surgery. 

She said she wanted to wait for a private inspection through a solicitor, which found the flat was “unfit for human habitation”. She did not want to have work done while she was living there in case any dust or particles affected them.

Sinead said as she has endured being in the flat for four years she wants to concentrate on being moved into emergency accommodation as she cannot afford to make the move privately.

The Argus: Sinead's five-year-old son has suffered respiratory issues as a result of the mouldSinead's five-year-old son has suffered respiratory issues as a result of the mould (Image: The Argus)

She said she has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression as a result of the family’s living conditions.

She said: “It has just been pure hell. Watching my son constantly get ill and potentially dying is every family’s worst nightmare. We have been doing everything we can to get out of here but everyone has turned their backs on us. It has been a terrible time.”

A spokesman for the estate agents said: “Martin and Co always respond efficiently and quickly to all issues within the properties we manage, we inspect the properties on a regular basis and highlight issues with the landlords and offer support to the tenants to prevent issues getting worse.

"We take any health issues related to mould or poor ventilation very seriously and in this situation along with fitting in mechanical ventilation and responding to various issues and leaks throughout the tenancy, we have been waiting for some time since the visit in December 2023 to help the tenants with firstly getting the walls and doors deep cleaned, throughout the property, but have found this process was being held up by the tenant, even though this would have improved the property and health issues for their family member.

"We will continue to get these issues rectified quickly and work with the landlord and tenant to get these problems resolved”.

Sinead has also been supported by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas who said: “My constituent and their family were left in a damaging, unhealthy home.

"It is a shocking, but all too common, example of how few protections renters have. It highlights the urgency of reforming Britain’s broken private rented sector.”

A spokesman for the city council said: “We are very concerned about the health implications for anyone living in a home with mould problems.

"Our team carried out a thorough inspection of this property and, having identified some issues with mould and other repair issues, engaged with the landlord to outline what work needs to be done to resolve the problem.

"We expect that the works will be carried out in a satisfactory manner once access has been agreed.

"If the tenant believes the situation has deteriorated further since our visit, we are happy to visit again to assess the current situation.”