GRANDPARENTS Susan and Bernard Zawilinski weren’t dreaming of a damp Christmas when they moved into their new council bungalow.
But the couple has just spent the festive season in their mouldy home after complaining Oxford City Council failed to act on their complaints.
Now the damp has turned black mould, spores are coming off the walls and Mrs Zawilinski said she felt unable to make herself feel at home.
She said: “It’s horrible. We go to sleep knowing we’ve got these little spores everywhere and we’re breathing them in.
“I can’t do anything in here, I can’t make it nice, it’s affected every room. We came here for a better life, for health reasons, but it’s a nightmare.”
Mr and Mrs Zawilinski, both 60, moved in to the bungalow in Three Fields Road, Headington, in September after health problems forced them out of their third-floor flat in Barton.
Mrs Zawilinski has problems with her knees and was struggling with the stairs at their old flat, so a new start was on the cards.
But Mrs Zawilinski, a carer, said: “People kept saying to me it was damp and that people hadn’t wanted to live there in the past because of the problems.
“When the guy came in to put our carpets down he told us it was damp behind the skirting boards. We told the council and they said they would come and deal with it.
“They found out there was a leak coming from the bath, so they eventually sorted that out and gave us a dehumidifier for a month, but it had all started coming through the ceiling and the walls.”
She said the council had promised to sort out the problem and clean the black mould off their walls and ceilings in October, but nothing had been done.
The couple’s son Karl accused the council of hypocrisy after stories were published about the authority punishing private landlords for the state of their properties.
He said:“It is disappointing to see that the council are taking independent landlords to court but are not looking after their own tenants and setting a good example.
“The damp is still spreading, the front and rear doors are more difficult to close, the damp is now present around the rear windows and bedroom ceiling.
“This has been going on for a couple of months now, the damp has turned black, the spores are falling onto the floor.”
City council executive member for housing Scott Seamons said: “There are problems with mould in some of our properties due to their age and design, and in some cases poor upkeep by previous tenants.
“This does seem like a particularly bad example and I will ensure officers look at the problem again.”
Like a private landlord, the council is responsible for the upkeep of the buildings it owns, unless the damage is the fault of the tenant. In some cases, tenants get permission to carry out their own repairs, but this can often mean they have to take the responsibility and the blame for further problems.