‘My breathing is bad and I can’t have friends over’: Mum’s despair after eight years in damp-ridden Canonbury flat

Ashleigh Hughes in her damp-ridden home on Canonbury's Marquess Estate. Picture: Lindsay Riley

Ashleigh Hughes in her damp-ridden home on Canonbury's Marquess Estate. Picture: Lindsay Riley - Credit: Archant

A council tenant says she feels helpless and isolated after eight years in a mouldy, damp-ridden home on Canonbury’s Marquess Estate.

Ashleigh Hughes and her 10-year old daughter are living out of waste bags instead of closets, because their clothes would otherwise be drenched in water.

She’s often forced to get rid of furniture and has stopped buying replacements, saying they’d only get damp and fall apart.

“I don’t want to put anything in this house, because what’s the point?” she told the Gazette. “It’s all going to get damaged anyway.

“We’ve had to remove some carpets because they were just soaking wet.”

Ashleigh said she even resorted to withholding rent payments to get the council’s attention, but it didn’t work.

“I told them I’d pay my rent but to please come and fix the problem,” she said. “So I paid them all the money I owed them and then I didn’t hear anything from them afterwards. It’s not normal to live like this.”

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Ashleigh’s sent several repair requests but in the past eight years says all she’s received from the town hall is foam wall insulation, which hasn’t helped solve the issue.

To make matters worse, she says the soggy environment is making her health worse.

“Physically my breathing is bad,” she said. “And mentally, I can’t have anyone over, because it’s embarrassing. So I’m isolated. I’m on my own all the time.

“I finally got through to them this week and they said they’ll be coming in three weeks. But the amount of times I’ve sat here all day waiting for someone to come, but nobody turned up – I’ve lost count how many times that has happened.”

Islington Council leader Richard Watts last year acknowledged that chronic damp has left lots of the town hall’s housing stock unfit for purpose. In April, it launched a £22million programme to tackle the issue on the Andover in Finsbury Park and the Girdlestone in Archway.

A council spokesman said on Tuesday: “We are sorry to hear of Ms Hughes’ concerns and are aware that she has had ongoing issues with mould in her flat.”

And he vowed: “Our surveyors attended the property in March to assess conditions, and we have attended again today – and will visit again next week. We will continue to work with Ms Hughes to sort out this issue.”