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Radlett mother's fears over subsiding flat
A single mother is terrified her flat might collapse around her after huge cracks began appearing in its walls.
Samantha Randall, 27, who lives in Phillimore Place in Radlett, has been plagued by the cracks and by mould since she moved into the property five years ago, and believes the two might be linked.
As well as a floor to ceiling fissure in the cupboard in the hall, there is a network of fractures in a corner of the living room and one extending along the width of the corridor outside.
There is mould growing in her daughter’s bedroom, which she is constantly wiping away, and, in the past, newly hung wallpaper has blistered and peeled away from the walls three times.
She said: “I’m worried the foundations of the entire building might be subsiding. The cracks are all in the external walls rather than the plaster and the ones the living room were repaired a year ago but have come back.
“I had a new bath put in recently and they had difficulty fitting it because the floor wasn’t level. The front door is beginning to hang at an angle as well.
“There is a crack extending across the concrete floor in the corridor outside which makes me think it is a structural problem. I’m worried the whole block of flats is splitting apart.
“It’s getting steadily worse and I’m afraid, in a few years time, I’ll come back to my flat to find it has crumbled.”
Miss Randall has forbidden her eight-year-old daughter from playing in her room because the reoccurring mould makes her fear for her health.
The flat, which was built 30 years ago, is managed by housing association Affinity Sutton and Miss Randall feels the organisation has not done enough to help.
She said: “People from Affinity Sutton has come in to look at the mould in the past. It got a little better but it keeps coming back. I was told by their contractors they would not fix the cracks because of lack of money.
“As a single mother trying to get back into work there is only so much I can take. I am confused and frustrated by Affinity Sutton. If they don’t fix it, this will only get worse and worse.
“I want to move out but I can’t afford to and I wouldn’t want to do a house swap because that would saddle someone else with these problems.”
When Miss Randall wrote to Hertsmere MP James Clappison about her problems he responded by saying it seemed as though Affinity Sutton had not been “straight” with her and sympathised with her concern and frustration.
Other flats in the building have suffered badly from damp and cracking, with one resident complaining of a long fissure extending across her wall and ceiling.
A spokeswoman for Affinity Sutton said: “Our surveyor visited Ms Randall’s property yesterday following concerns raised by the resident regarding mould and a potential subsidence issue. The cracks in the walls reported by Ms Randall have been diagnosed as caused by thermal movement – a common occurrence in modern homes. We sympathise with the distress the appearance of these cracks will have caused Ms Randall and we have been able to re-assure her that they pose absolutely no threat to the safety of the building.
“We have now commissioned a specialist to address the cracks. We have also provided Ms Randall with advice on measures she can take to reduce condensation, a contributor to household mould, and have arranged an appointment to investigate whether there is any water penetration from the gutters.
“We received an enquiry from James Clappison MP and we will keep him updated. However, there is no question that we have misled Ms Randall - we understand the inconvenience that these issues have caused her and we will be working quickly to resolve them.”
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