A mum-of-two said she fears for the health of her family due to toxic black mould and a rodent problem at her home which is so bad 1,000 mice have been caught.
Paraskevi Karagkouni lives in a one-bedroom property, provided by controversial social landlord Clarion Housing, with her partner and their two young children.
The couple moved into the one-bedroom property in Penge in 2019 and Paraskevi has since had her 15-month-old daughter and gave birth to a baby girl last month.
Paraskevi, 22, a university student originally from Athens, Greece, says she and her partner have complained repeatedly about the problems in their home and is pleading for a safer environment to raise her two children in.
Clarion is responsible for repair works and Paraskevi said a few months ago handymen cleaned and painted over the black mould in the bathroom but it’s since grown back at an alarming rate.
She told MyLondon : “I’m really scared for my youngest, I shower her every day but I’m really worried, after two or three minutes I take her out of the bathroom because I don’t want her breathing it in.
“I also have to change my face cream and toothbrushes all the time because of the issue – it’s really bad.”
Black mould is visible in all corners of the family’s bedroom and living room, which Paraskevi believes is the cause of her daughter’s chest infection.
While the family sleep at night, their bedroom becomes a playground for mice – closing doors doesn’t stop them from creating havoc in the bedroom.
Paraskevi estimates over 1,000 mice have been caught inside her home, with up to three a day in traps.
She believes she’s spent over £100 on mousetraps so far and she can’t let her children play on the floor and also feels uncomfortable resting them on her bed.
She added: “‘I’m really worried about putting my kids even on the bed, for my newborn it’s quite risky. But I don’t have any other choice because of the mice.
“I wouldn’t mind living in this house if I had a better environment – it’s not so much about living in one bedroom, it’s about being in these conditions with my kids,
“Why does this happen to me? I feel really sad for my kids, they can’t play around.”
Paraskevi says she “won’t give up” the fight for better housing for her and her family.
She has written to her MP, Ellie Reeves, about the issues and last month a healthcare worker told Clarion the property is a health risk for her two young children.
Paraveski explained: “I’m a really hardworking person. I’m trying my best, I’m still in education and going back to work. I’m trying to do everything for my kids to have a better future for us.
“I don’t want to give up, I will never give up on anything in my life.”
A Clarion spokesperson told MyLondon: “We are aware of Ms Karagkouni’s current situation and are committed to resolving the mould problem so her family can feel more comfortable in their home.
“Following a visit to assess the issue in September, our operatives were due to install a humidistat fan to the bathroom and complete mould treatments.
“The visit to complete the work was subsequently cancelled at the residents’ request and this has been rescheduled for next week. Our pest control contractor also visited the property in September and the follow up visit has also been rescheduled, at the residents’ request, to a more convenient time. “
Clarion added: “Ms Karagkouni’s family currently needs a larger home and overcrowding can contribute to increased condensation and mould growth. We will be discussing options for the household to move to a new property that better meets their needs.”
Clarion, which manages 125,000 properties across the UK and is Europe’s largest housing association, has come under fire by scores of tenants who claim they are being forced to live in horrific conditions.
Last week Dawn Page from Merton, south London, said her house became “uninhabitable” due to a sewage leak inside her kitchen and toilet has been forced to spend months in a hotel with her daughter.
When the 50-year-old first reported the leak to Clarion on July 5, she was told it was “fine” to continue cooking in her kitchen, where the leak was dripping down onto surfaces and behind cupboards.
It wasn’t until the beginning of August when Dawn forwarded information from Environmental Health to Clarion, confirming it was a serious health risk, that she and her 11-year-old child were eventually moved into a hotel.
Last month The Mirror reported that another tenant who has been living in hotels for three months might not be rehoused until Christmas after being moved out of her damp, mouldy and vermin filled home.
Clarion Housing moved care worker Louise Plunkett into a hotel in July after she was hospitalised with breathing problems while living in conditions so bad she had to sleep on her sofa for nine months.
The 34-year-old Mitcham resident had been complaining to Clarion for almost a decade, but was getting nowhere with the housing association.
In May 22-year-old Kwajo Tweneboa, who lives on the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, spoke about the appalling state he has been forced to live in and said that once workmen told him that “not even animals would live in these conditions”.
He said his dad died of cancer while living at the property and claims the poor conditions contributed to his death.