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NHS worker living in ‘horror movie’ in home covered with black mould

Mould can be seen in Larisa Orlova’s bedroom and bathroom of her home Hersham, Surrey (Picture: SurreyLive/BPM)

This is the shocking state of a disabled NHS worker’s home as her repeated calls to clean up mould allegedly went unanswered by her housing company landlord.

Larisa Orlova, 49, says dangerous black mould and fungi spores grew to cover nearly every surface of her home in Surrey. The emergency care nursing assistant likened it to living in her ‘own horror movie’.

She said mould first appeared in her home in the autumn of 2018 and when she tried reporting it online to landlord PA Housing, she was told: ‘This is your responsibility. As a tenant, you are responsible for adequate heating and ventilation of your home.’

Ms Orlova said: ‘My health has no meaning to my landlord, [leaving] me to live in hazardous living conditions for over two years.

‘Since last year, after having to breathe the toxic, musty air, I started experiencing severe headaches and sickness. I need to recuperate after working long shifts in order to do my job properly.

‘How can I look after patients when I am not well myself? I could not sleep for three months last year due to the noise of the water dripping from the ceiling [from a leaking water tank].’

She told SurreyLive: ’The smell is musty and I am gasping for fresh air. You feel like you need fresh air and fresh oxygen because the air is filled with fungi spores.’

Landlord PA Housing has been carrying out two weeks of repairs including replastering (Picture: SurreyLive/BPM)

Landlord PA Housing has been carrying out two weeks of repairs including replastering (Picture: SurreyLive/BPM)

PA Housing sent a surveyor to the property and found it needed a number of repairs, including renewals of the water tank and ceilings, replastering of the walls and retiling of Ms Orlova’s bathroom.

It said repair works are being carried out after an initial delay due to problems accessing the home.

Ms Orlova believes the company have been ‘dismissive’ and unwilling to remove the mould since it started growing around two and a half years ago.

The mould progressively spread to cover most of the property, and in the summer of 2019, Ms Orlova’s said she had woodworms – larvae of wood-boring beetles – in the bathroom and later a mushroom grew from the ceiling.

She has had to throw numerous items away, including clothes and her son’s laptop, due to mould growing on them. She noted that the fungi spores are multi-coloured.

In September 2020, Ms Orlova said she was kept awake for months due to the noise created from a leaking water tank. She said water was ‘pouring from the ceiling’ and this made the damp issue worse.

The Hersham resident, who is registered disabled and has fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, claims PA Housing took months to fix the leak.

Ms Orlova said: ‘Since then, my daughter’s bedroom has not been in use. If I open the door and I smell the mould, I immediately start vomiting and retching.’

She added: ‘Every single night I could hear the water dripping in the house. I couldn’t sleep.

‘After having to breathe the toxic, musty air, I started experiencing severe headaches and sickness’ – Larisa Orlova (Picture: SurreyLive/BPM)

‘I feel exhausted and I am supposed to work 12-hour shifts. I am helping everyone from across the country with my job, so I want to be treated in the same way.’

Describing the situation as ‘a nightmare’, she claims she did everything she could to try to reduce the mould herself and her son spent weeks using cleaning products to try to remove it, but nothing seemed to work.

Her MP, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was ‘troubled’ to hear about her concerns and would take them up with the landlord.

PA Housing describes itself on its website as ‘an award-winning provider of affordable, quality homes’. It adds: ‘But our business is about more than property – it’s about people. We aim to put our residents at the centre of everything we do and offer first class services to all.’

A spokesperson for the company said Ms Orlova has been put up in a hotel while repairs take place.

Larisa said she has been unable to sleep properly which has left her exhausted for work (Picture: SurreyLive/BPM)

Larisa said she has been unable to sleep properly which has left her exhausted for work (Picture: SurreyLive/BPM)

‘We’re very sorry that our customer felt she needed to contact SurreyLive about the work we have been doing in her home,’ the spokesperson said.

‘A water tank leak reported in late September 2020 caused damage to her home. We stopped the leak shortly after it was reported and provided our customer with a dehumidifier to help dry out the property.

‘A surveyor visited to assess the damage caused by the leak, including the mould that had formed on the wet walls, and found that we needed to renew the water tank and the ceilings, replaster walls, and retile the bathroom.

‘Unfortunately, the work has taken longer than expected due to some difficulties gaining access to the property, and delays with progressing the work as quickly as we would have liked due to Covid restrictions.

‘However, it is all due to be completed this week, with PA Housing having organised for our customer to spend two weeks in a hotel while it was carried out.

‘We have maintained contact with our customer and very much hope she is happy with the work that has been done in her home.’

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