Rashid Yousef in the kitchen of his ‘uninhabitable’ home
Rashid Yousef, 54, and his wife Ashweq say housing provider Torus has done little to address issues of damp and rodents in their property in Walton, Liverpool. Rashid is desperately trying to recover from a serious workplace accident but his GP says the living conditions are making him sicker.
The couple, whose kids are aged between four and 18, say they are “exhausted” by their plight.
Rashid, a Dutch national of Yemeni descent who came to the UK in 2002, said: “I have to throw the furniture out every six months because of the damp. I have just had to get rid of the sofa.
“This is unbearable.
“Every day we wake up tired because everyone is coughing from the mould. I have to leave the heating on all day but it is freezing because of the damp in the walls.
“I am exhausted, depressed and tired.”
The children suffer from breathing problems, reports Liverpool Echo, and their dad is particularly concerned about how the damp is affecting them.
Their youngest, four-year-old Sara, was rushed to hospital with respiratory problems around 18 months ago.
Rashid Yousef in the bathroom of the property
Photos taken inside the property show a leak from the bathroom has left serious damage in the kitchen, and black mould spores coating window frames, wall spaces and ceilings.
Rashid, a former warehouse operative, says he often sees rats scrurrying around the Victorian terrace and corpses of the rodents remain in the wall cavities, producing a vile smell.
Liverpool Council has deployed pest control officers at regular intervals to lay poison, but the responsibility to remove rotting rodents falls on Torus, who the family say has done nothing about it.
Rashid’s neighbour, 33-year-old Mike Ahmed, has been helping the family overcome language barriers and raise their concerns with Torus.
“The mould, damp and rat infestation is unbelievable and has made living in this house like hell,” he said.
“It made Rashid’s pain worse; his kids get breathing problems because of that.”
The home in Liverpool is infested with rats, damp and mould
The father has asked his housing association for more help
Mr Ahmed added: “The council sent someone to kill the rats, but they end up dying inside the cavity walls and are still there till this moment.
“We tried with the housing association and it has been like this for more than one year. They just keep sending surveyors, they say they will repair it but nothing seems to happen.
“I ask for them to be treated fairly as human beings who with their kids have the right to live in safe and healthy environment.”
Torus is one of the largest providers of social housing in the North West of England.
A spokeswoman for the company claimed all repair requests had been completed and the company had not been made aware of health problems.
Rashid Yousef pictured in the kitchen of his home
Emails show though that the family had raised concerns about mould, damp and rat infestations since at least June of 2019 – including some with letters from the family GP attached.
They have lived there for around five years, during which time, they say the problems have only worsened.
And one letter from a local GP practice addressed “to whom it may concern”, seen by the ECHO and dated December 3, 2020, states: “The state of the house of the above named patient [Rashid Yousef] is not healthy, it is severely damp and this is affecting his joints and back.
“He is taking medication and doing exercises as instructed by the physiotherapist, despite all that his back and joint pains are not improving and they are worse now that the house is damp and cold.
“His children are affected too and as a result of the state of the house his daughter has breathing problems and they are getting worse, his other daughter has been having chest infections.
“I would be grateful if you could rehouse this patient.”
Damp in a Bedroom ceiling at the family home
The family asked to be rehoused, but were told they should add their names to the Property Pool Plus website, which can involve waits of months or even years.
Rashid’s need for alternate housing is particularly acute due to injuries he suffered in 2019, while working in a Warehouse in Speke, Liverpool, when the truck he was driving was struck by another vehicle.
The impact crushed his back and knee, leaving him needing a cane to walk and in pain “24/7”.
Unable to work, the family relies on Ashwaq’s income from her job as a store assistant, which leaves Rashid with no one to help him navigate the stairs.
Even when his family are at home, Rashid said he finds himself isolated as the steep staircase means he finds it easier to remain upstairs so he can use the bathroom.
A spokesman for Torus said: “All reported works on the property have been carried out and there are currently no outstanding requests for repairs on our system.
“However, we will contact the tenant today and arrange for a surveyor to visit and assess any further issues so we can rectify the situation as soon as possible. We will also review the application request for rehousing and our Housing team will contact the tenant to discuss further.”
While Liverpool Council is not responsible for the condition of the house, the authority was concerned about the conditions endured by the Yousef family.
A spokesman said: “Pest control have attended the property several times over the last few years but no other issues were raised with us by the tenant.
“We are extremely concerned to learn of the conditions in this property and will be in touch with Torus and the tenant to discuss the issues that have been raised.”