Struggling families trapped in homes plagued by damp and rats

Several frustrated families in one street have said their homes are plagued by rats and filled with damp.

Anthony Bleakley, who lives in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, with his family-of-six in a housing association home has said the tatty house is squalid and that wallpaper he had put up "six months ago" just "falls off" the living room wall.

The Bleakley family has also complained of a hole below the walls of the Cedar Avenues home.

Anthony said: "We took up the laminate to show more evidence [of the damp]. I was standing on it and I just fell through."

Underneath the floorboards, Anthony claims he can seen a "pool of water", the Manchester Evening News reports.

He said: "A lot of the water has gone now but there still is some. When it rains it fills up a lot. I'm a groundworker by trade so I know what's gone on."

Anthony, who has lived in the house for three years, and his partner for six, says he currently covers up the hole in the floor with a playhouse.

According to Matthew Condrad, director of Tenant Claim and representing Andrew's family, the rising damp is down to a failure with the damp proof courses.

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Mr Condrad claims the damp proofing, which has a lifespan of 25 years, has now expired.

Anthony fears for two of his asthmatic children whenever "it rains and it gets damp," with the NHS saying that damp and mould can affect people's health.

Natalie Lake, another resident at Cedar Avenue, fears for three-year-old daughter Jorja-Maria's health after she was also diagnosed with asthma.

She said: "She's only three. Her asthma gets so bad she ends up in hospital. She's very young."

Natalie took a video of the flat, where her daughter can be heard saying: "Mummy I don't like the smell."

She said: "When I walk around the house at night I can feel the floor breaking. I'm sure there's water underneath. It's just everywhere."

Natalie claims rats are also an issue, saying: "My mental health went through the roof with the rats. I just feel really upset and angry and frustrated."

She and fellow resident Anthony claim little has been done following their complaints about the state of the homes.

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Lawyer Matthew Condrad said: "The properties are affected by rising damp, which is rotting the floorboards, ruining furnishing, and threatening the heath of residents.

"Rat infestations are also a reoccurring problem, causing an additional health risk to residents."

A spokesperson for Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, which runs the properties, said that they had received a rat infestation complaint in late 2021 and following a "detailed survey," they commissioned "extensive drainage work to rectify the problem."

They added: "We have not received any further reports of rats in this area," and also noted that a complained on February 25 was being worked on and will be resolved "as quickly as possible".

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