Couple trapped in ‘nightmare’ mouldy flat with rats and tree growing in chimney

A couple feel trapped in a "nightmare" after spending six years in a flat riddled with health and safety issues.

Rhiann and Jason Blair claim every day they struggle with damp and mould issues, which attract vermin and have caused a leak in the ceiling.

They say rain water drips onto them inside because a tree is wreaking havoc with the roof as it grows in the chimney.

The Blairs claim the awful state of their home in Tullycarnet, Belfast has been neglected by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Damp in the property also ruined wedding documents months before the couple's big day in May, BelfastLive reports.

Rhiann said: "I have lived here for six years and had six years of damp, mould and even rats.

"When I first moved in I had problems with the windows because they just would not open and if you tried to force them then they would fall out.

"Because they were so old they provided no protection from the elements so my flats would be constantly full of damp and mould.

"I had to battle to get new windows put in for over a year because every time I asked I was told that there would be a refurbishment soon."

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The ceiling in the apartment collapsed for the first time in 2017 and then again last March, destroying the couple's living room.

Jason said: "The first time there was an issue with the ceiling it was able to be patched up, but then there would still be issues anytime there was rain.

"Then in March we came home from a night shift and found our TV, floor and furniture covered in water after the ceiling went again.

"It even ruined our wedding documents a couple of months before we were due to get married. We just felt like we couldn't cope anymore due to the stress of it all.

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"There was even one night where I started to hear a tapping noise on the ceiling, only to find there was a leak in the roof. Then when a man came round to check it out, we were told that there was a tree growing in our chimney."

Rhiann said: "Every time that it rains and in winter we have to take our TV off of the wall due to the water and damp that comes into the apartment and anytime that we try to fix the place up, it gets ruined again."

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “Our Chief Executive and other staff met with local representatives a few weeks ago and a series of actions were agreed.

“These included work to repair roofs, upgrade work to communal hallways, including lighting and painting and we are also examining options to improve security.

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“Some of this work is already underway and we will soon appoint contractors to deliver more.

“Our staff have been on site this week, both for inspection and preparation of improvement works.

“An Economic Appraisal regarding the future of these blocks is planned to be presented to our Board for their consideration next month.”

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