A student who claims she was duped into living in a “mouldy”, slug-infested flat is attempting to crowdfund £4,800 so she can move out.
Chantelle Fairburn, a third year student at the University of Nottingham, says letting agents hid the extent of the mould and damp in the £450-a-month studio and that the conditions in the flat have left her suffering chest and stomach pains.
“When I moved in I saw the most prominent mould and damp above the front door and I remembered that when I viewed the property back in March, the light had been switched off in that area so I couldn’t see it,” the 21-year-old she told HuffPost UK.
“A few weeks after moving in my mum actually discovered more mould around the windows and we suspect that sporadic patches of paint on the walls are actually covering up more mould and damp.”
Fairburn claims to have found mould in the bathroom and bedroom and an infestation of “six or seven slugs”. She also says the microwave, intercom and toilet seat were broken when she moved in.
The Film and Television Studies student claims she reported the problems to her letting agents, Reed Residential, but apart from providing her with a heater, they did nothing to tackle the problems.
Fairburn then wrote an email with the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau and Nottingham’s student advice service, asking to be released from her tenancy.
The 21-year-old says she received an “angry” call from someone at the letting agency in response, before getting an email from the managing director a few days later.
“He disagreed that there was damp at the property and that I had been misled into the tenancy. He said that the mould and damp would be fixed by the weekend,” Fairburn said.
“This was on October 7, but nothing was done and I’ve not been contacted.
“He refused to release me from my tenancy as he said the property was habitable.”
But the Nottingham student claims the conditions in the flat have had a negative impact on her health.
“As there’s mould in every area of the studio, there’s nowhere I can go to escape it. I’d also been sleeping next to a wardrobe with damp behind it for a few weeks before I discovered it.”
After being taken to her GP by her family, Fairburn was proscribed two inhalers for chest pains.
She has since started a GoFundMe page in an attempt to raise £4,800 so she can pay off her tenancy agreement and move out of the studio.
Reed Residential has not responded to a request for comment.
To date, Fairburn has only raised £89, but promises that anyone donates £450, a month’s rent, will receive a personal Skype call as a thank you.
The Nottingham student says the experience has been “emotionally draining”.
“I feel like I’m always on the verge of crying because it just feels like a hopeless situation,” she said. “I’ve gone over it again and again in my head and there’s no easy solution.”
Research from housing charity Shelter has 46% of people aged 16-24 live in accomodation that does not meet an acceptable ‘living home standard’.
Reed Residential has been contacted a number of times for comment.