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 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.

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