RESIDENTS living in a block of council flats in Llanrumney claim their living conditions are being blighted by mould, damp and what some suspect is sewage seeping through their showers.
One family who live in the block, built in 1959, are also worried about asbestos in crumbling tiles in their flat. The substance can be harmful to health, although Cardiff Council has insisted there is no risk in these circumstances.
Liam Williams, who lives in a flat with his partner, Shawnee Maguire, and her daughter, said they had been waiting for months for work to be done on the chrysotile flooring there.
He said they had to rearrange an inspection on the damage after someone from the council came around to the flat in January, allegedly without giving adequate notice.
An inspection, which Liam said confirmed the presence of asbestos in the flooring, was carried out recently. “We had an inspector out recently who was telling us that as long as it isn’t crumbling it is safe,” said Liam.
“Well, all around the edges of our room these chrysotiles are crumbling away.”
Cardiff Council said that work on the couple’s flat, including the removal of tiles which contained traces of asbestos, would begin soon. The authority also said that the asbestos did not present a risk as it was “tightly bound within the tile material”.
But Liam said he and his partner had even been attempting their own work on the property to bring it back up to a standard acceptable to them, and to fight back against the problems of mould and damp.
He added: “This is money that my partner has put in, work that we have put in to get this place looking nice and it is just coming off the walls because of the sheer state of the property. It is no good.”
On how the situation was affecting him and his partner, Liam added: “Our mental health is terrible. Just being in this property has me close to a nervous breakdown because I am trying to make the home a bit nicer for the girls, but every bit of work I try to do is just for nothing because it is just crumbling away.”
Shawnee, who has epilepsy, said she had been looking to move into a property which was more suitable for her.
Liam said they had been on the Band Bi council housing waiting list, which is for applicants with a high housing need, for “at least a year”.
Ideally, they said they would need a ground floor flat with a wet room.
However, Cardiff Council’s housing waiting list, like with many authorities across the country, is considerable. Late last year, the council said that there were more than 8,200 people on its housing waiting list.
At the time, the authority also said that it received 400 new applications a month, but only 1,600 properties each year became available to let.
Liam said: “[Shawnee] has had seizures on the stairwells. We don’t have a wet room here and she has had seizures in the shower and fallen. I’m surprised she hasn’t broken any bones on that stairwell.”
Marc Davies, 49, said he hadn’t had many problems with his flat in the nine years he had been living at Clevedon Court with his partner. However, that all changed fairly recently when they started to notice what appeared – and smelled – like sewage, seeping up through their shower drain.
He said: “Every time I unplugged the shower to plunge it out, there were leaves coming up first of all, then it was like dirt and it was starting to smell.
“I’m not sure if it is faeces or waste from food, I don’t know, but it is not pleasant after you have had a shower and you have had to plunge it again.”
Marc said the issues with the drainage in his property came about in October, but someone didn’t come over to inspect it until March. He and his partner said they were still having to deal with the issue and they said black mould had also started to appear in the bathroom.
Cardiff Council said that a plumbing inspection for bathroom repairs at the flat took place on Wednesday, April 5.
Marc, who likened the stench coming from the drain to egg, said he had to plunge the waste out of it and disinfect the shower every time before he or his partner needed to wash.
He added: “It is not that nice. You go in there for a shower, you want to come out nice and fresh, and now my partner wears a face mask in there because of the smell.”
David Williams, who has been living in his flat at Clevedon Court since about 2020, said he had faced re-occurring issues with a leaking roof. The council has been over to fix this problem, but David said it took him months to get someone to come over to do so.
He said he was also facing issues with damp and mould.
David said: “From October I have constantly been trying to get somebody to come out. They sent two people out from a contractor at one point in November. They said it was really bad and that they would be back to repair it in a couple of days and then nothing then all over Christmas, all the way up until three weeks ago.
“I have constantly been calling them, doing the online request forms. They have mentioned nothing about repairing all of the damage it has caused over this prolonged period. It got to the point where when it rained, the electrics would trip.”
Pictures taken in David’s flat show evidence of brown marks around the shower switch in his bathroom and marks around one of the light cables in his roof.
Commenting on the 64-year-old block as a whole, David added: “It looks so bad. It is embarrassing living there to be honest. It looks terrible, tatty and really worn down.”
Another resident of Clevedon Court, Leona Malcolm, said of the block: “Outside there are bits crumbling. The roof – there is always scaffolding outside because there are problems with the roof.
“I don’t want to live in here anymore. It is not liveable, but the likelihood of being moved is quite slim because there is a housing crisis.”
Leona, 26, said she also had issues with her drainage last year. She said: “I had other peoples’ waste coming through my toilet, my shower, through my sink. It was horrible. I don’t like germs, especially toilet germs, it is not nice. Obviously I had a bit of a meltdown.”
After a number of repairs by the council, the issue hadn’t reoccurred, she said. The first time she had issues with the drainage, Leona said the council came to fix it on the same day.
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The council’s responsive repairs unit has responded to various reports from tenants for repairs at Clevedon Court. All repairs needed at Flats 1 and 6, including a roof repair in November, were completed last year.
“A plumbing inspection for bathroom repairs at Flat 2 took place yesterday (April 5). Works arising from damp inspection recommendations at Flat 3, including installing improved ventilation, wallpapering and painting, will begin next week and be complete by mid-May.
“This also includes the removal of tiles that contain traces of asbestos, although as the asbestos is tightly bound within the tile material, it does not present a risk.
“We take reports of damp and mould issues in our homes very seriously and respond to tenants’ concerns as quickly as possible. The council has allocated additional resources to tackling such issues and a new dedicated in-house damp and mould repairs team will be in place very soon.
“We are making considerable investment in our homes over the coming years, including external wall insulation and upgrading central heating systems, to improve their thermal qualities.
“Plans are also being put in place to tender for a roofing and painting contract for work on a number of council homes in the city, including Clevedon Court, as part of the council’s rolling programme of works. Tenants will be kept informed of these upgrades in due course.”