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“Do I actually have to die?” Grandmother fears home will kill her before it is habitable

Private rentals in Blackpool and the growing mould problems

January 17 2024, 13.22pm

A woman from Blackpool claims she contracted pneumonia over Christmas as a result of her neglectful landlord allowing damp and mould to develop in her privately rented house.

Unlike many people who will have been tucking into their Christmas dinners and enjoying all the festive period has to offer, 47-year-old Michelle Bromley was laid up in Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

“My body went into shock when I was in hospital due to sepsis. While I was on the ward on Boxing Day evening, it was like I felt something cold going through my veins. My body started shaking vigorously.”

Sign the petition demanding Michelle's home is fixed here.

Michelle, a mother and grandmother, explained that she believes the reason she was taken into hospital was due to the damp and mould conditions in her privately rented home on Warley Road. The house she has called home for the last nine-and-a-half years.

“I’m awaiting test results at the moment and they are testing the blood samples against examples of mould. They said there is a chance it could be linked to my living conditions.”


What’s more concerning is that she has been living with these conditions for almost the entire tenancy and despite several calls to the landlord, Coles Property Management, the dark, damp patches still fester in almost every room of the house. 

“I’ve had a leak into the front lounge from the bathroom, which has been ongoing for years. The damp is so bad in my kitchen I can’t cook in there, I have to make food on a camping table in the hallway.

“I have a paper trail of evidence, but when I raise it, I get nothing back. I just get arrogant comments saying that I am damaging the house. It’s just horrendous.”

The house is just a stone’s throw from Blackpool seafront. She has seen her children have their own children and watched her grandchildren grow up in the house, at times living with her. Even from the moment she moved in, Michelle knew that although it looked like the ideal home on the outside, looks can be deceiving.

“It wasn’t a lovely new house when we moved in. There was nail varnish on the walls, holes in the walls, the carpets needed replacing as they were a trip hazard.

“The photographs the council took after my first complaints shows there was rising damp in the house before I moved in, you can see it. This house was not renovated before I moved in. I spent thousands on this house doing it up.

“My husband is a builder and a joiner. He has explained to housing enforcement and has explained to me how bad it is. It’s like we just get ignored.” 


The former beautician says she has been locked in a fierce and ongoing battle with Coles Property Management, more specifically, owner Stephen Coles.

Coles served Bromley with a section 21 no-fault eviction notice in September last year. She managed to avoid eviction after the notice ran out in November but she says she’s now expecting a section 8 eviction notice, possibly leading to a battle for her tenancy in the courts.

“People like Stephen Coles and the council don’t like it when people like me call them out and tell the truth. They don’t like to be publicly shamed for what they do to people like me.

“I’ve said to the council: ‘Does Awaab’s Law not matter in this town?’ Do I actually have to die for something to happen?”

Awaab’s law was introduced in the Social Housing Regulation Act 2023, requiring landlords to investigate and fix reported health hazards within specified timeframes, following the death of two-year-old boy Awaab Ishak in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by prolonged exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Labour have proposed a new clause to the Renters' Reform Bill that would extend Awaab's Law "to the private rented sector" if it makes its way into the legislation.

Shadow Housing Minister Matthew Pennycook has now said that "there is no justification whatsoever for restricting ‘Awaab’s law’ purely to social housing".


Michelle's camping table kitchen


Stephen Coles told The Blackpool Lead: “We’ve done our job and we’ve done everything we can. The mould is condensation, which we have had confirmed by damp specialists.

“We’ve done everything within our powers to resolve the issues at the property. There was a leak from the bathroom upstairs, which is still being dealt with by insurers. We’ve satisfied the council.

“We’ve complied with all obligations however there is an ongoing dispute with the tenant.”

Blackpool Council confirmed that ‘remedial’ work has been done to deal with some issues at the property. 

A Blackpool Council spokesperson told The Blackpool Lead: “Our Housing Enforcement team has been involved with this case over a number of months and is continuing to mediate between the two parties. The landlord undertook remedial work to deal with the issues at the property and they have been completed to our satisfaction.
“We will continue to offer both the landlord and the tenant advice in the hope they can reach a resolution.”


Sign our petition for Better Homes for Blackpool and back our campaign for the cabinet member to explain how she will lift the quality of private sector rental properties in the town and ensure people like Michelle don't end up in hospital.

In October 2022, Michelle’s grandson, who was six-months-old at the time, spent two days in hospital after being admitted with acute bronchiolitis and a respiratory infection – conditions known to be linked to damp and mould.

Coles Property Management was given a formal improvement notice in regards to the damp and mould issues and started work soon after. 

Michelle says the repairs have stalled so many times to the point that the ground floor resembles a building site.

Coles Property Management say the council improvement notice has been satisfied.

‘Everyone has the right to a warm home…’

Michelle is just one of many private renters in the seaside town to face problems with mould and damp.

Figures published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in September 2023 showed approximately 1 in 4 private rental sector properties registered by Blackpool Council are estimated to have category 1 damp and mould hazards, compared to the national figure of around 1 in every 28 properties.

Around 75% of privately rented homes in Blackpool are estimated to have category 2 damp and mould hazards.

In July 2022, in the wake of the death of Awaab Ishak, Blackpool Council confirmed a review had taken place into damp and mould conditions in their social housing properties.

In December of that year, it found that 95% of its residents reported high levels of satisfaction with the quality of their home and the repairs. The leader of Blackpool Council, Lynn Williams, said the aim after this was to target improvements in the private rented sector.

Regarding Michelle Bromley’s situation and many other similar cases that families in Blackpool are currently facing, a spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities told The Blackpool Lead: “Everyone has the right to a warm, secure, and decent home and to be treated with dignity and fairness.
“Local authorities already have enforcement powers to require landlords to make properties decent, with fines up to £30,000 or a banning order in the worst cases. We are strengthening these powers through our landmark Renters (Reform) Bill.”

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