Doctor warns mouldy home puts teen at risk of ‘hospitalisation and death’
A doctor has warned that a teenage boy with a life-limiting illness could die if he and his mother are not moved from their mould-ridden flat.
Ilyas Levoy, 19, has Donohue’s Syndrome, also known as leprechaunism, a rare genetic life-limiting illness that can lead to recurrent, life-threatening infections.
His mother Marlene Levoy is begging her landlord, L&Q Housing Association, to move them out of their flat in Winchester Mews in Swiss Cottage so vital work can be done to tackle water, damp and mould.
She said: “My son is very ill. In February 2022 I started to get damp and mould and leaks and I reported to the housing and they did nothing but now the situation has got really bad.
“My son can’t sleep in his room because his skin is getting really bad from the mould. I’ve got mould growing on my leather sofa.
“The whole place is just mould and wet. Doctors have said llyas could be hospitalised and die if he stays here. We can’t escape.”
Marlene described walls under the bath covered in black mould and crumbling with damp, and said she had to throw away her curtains, which were covered in black mould.
Now Marlene, who has developed a cough, is sleeping on the sofa while her son sleeps in her room. “We are camping,” she said.
In a letter to Camden’s environmental team, Dr Karen Miller from Adelaide Medical Centre said the flat was “totally unfit for habitation” and putting Ilyas at “severe serious risk of hospitalisation and death”.
To exacerbate matters, the family live above the Swiss Cottage Community Centre, where Marlene claims water has been leaking into electricity units directly beneath her son’s “stinking” room.
She says she contacted Cllr Ajok Athian (Lab, Primrose Hill), a trustee of the community centre, but had no response. He has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Marlene claims L&Q told her the family will not be moved until a surveyor has come back with a report to say it is necessary.
L&Q’s director of housing management Sharon Burns said it sent an officer to inspect her roof on January 4, followed by a surveyor’s visit on January 17 which identified “hairline cracks” in the ceiling “but no evidence of significant damp or mould”.
Ms Burns added: “We are so sorry for the distress Ms Levoy has experienced.
“We take the health and safety of our residents extremely seriously,
and recognise that her son’s vulnerabilities make this especially sensitive.”
She said instructed specialist contractors ZapCarbon to carry out another assessment of the home on January 24 and treat any damp and mould – something Marlene said “was a waste of time”.
Ms Burns added: “We have not identified a need to move the residents out, but we will review this decision based on the findings of this investigation.
“We will continue to do everything we can to support Ms Levoy and her family.”
A Camden Council spokesperson said: “We have contacted L&Q to establish what they can do to support Ms Levoy.
“At Swiss Cottage Community Centre we are working with all parties to investigate the repairs needed to address water ingress affecting the centre.”