Family’s mouldy home horror
Step inside, make yourself at home. Breathe in the mouldy air.
You even get a free shower when you go to the toilet, Craig Ryan says, pointing to the dripping, sagging bathroom ceiling in the Porirua state house he calls home.
Ryan lives there with father Ross and brother Aaron, and they say mould grows relentlessly in the badly ventilated, east-facing house. But they don’t like to complain. ‘‘My dad’s real old school ... his fear is being left homeless. He doesn’t want to poke and prod,’’ Craig said.
‘‘He’ll accept any help that’s offered, but the fact is, no help’s been offered.’’
Housing New Zealand, however, says that if tenants don’t report problems, it’s hard to fix anything, but it was acting now.
Even late morning on an unusually warm midwinter’s day, the uncluttered house was musty. Another ceiling, more mildew, more corrosion. In a bedroom, yellowing wallpaper wilts and turns in the damp.
Craig’s children Mia-Rose, 3 and Duke-Lincoln, 1, spend time here too, and it was their health he worried about most, he said.
The brothers said contractors who visited recently were so appalled that they advised the family to contact local MPs.
The Ryans said they spent time and money on cleaning, and trying to warm the house, which was sorely lacking in ventilation. Even frequent scrubbing, cleaning and bleaching was no match for the cold and damp.
When lawyer Paul Surridge learned of the home’s condition, he was appalled. ‘‘This is just despicable,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not the New Zealand way.’’
There was a limit to what tenants could do to the house without Housing NZ’s approval, he said.
HOUSING NZ REPLIES
Housing NZ said it inspected the property in January, and found no significant problems.
Acting area manager Alice Daniel-Kirk said last week that when Housing was alerted to issues it sent out a contractor to visit the property.
‘‘We’ve found there’s a leak in the roof that we’re fixing.
‘‘We work hard to ensure all our homes are warm, dry and healthy, and to make sure our tenants understand what they need to do to keep their homes that way.’’
Daniel-Kirk said it was noted that Ross Ryan did not open windows and dried clothes inside, which was contributing to the lack of ventilation and moisture issues.
Aaron Ryan said his father did not always open windows in midwinter, because it was obviously too cold.
He disputed some aspects of HNZ’s response, but was glad the agency paid a visit and pledged to fix the ceiling at least.
Craig Ryan, left, with children Mia-Rose, 3, and Duke-Lincoln, 1, and brother Aaron, in their damp and mouldy Housing New Zealand home.