A South Hams family with four young children faces a bleak Christmas thanks to the failure of its housing association to deal with damp and mould problems in their home.

Caroline and Chris Fisher have been forced to give up their bedroom and sleep on the living room floor so their sons, Kaiden, three, and Joshua, six, have somewhere to sleep. The damp in their bedroom is now so bad they fear for their health.

They are unable to put up a Christmas tree because their home is in turmoil. With four children under the age of 11, that has brought dismay to the family, which lives in Pipers Close, Totnes, in a property let by LiveWest.

The Fishers moved into the flat in July 2017 and first notified LiveWest of the damp problems in January this year.

Caroline said: “After complaining and them telling us to clean it and repaint it quite a few times, I’d had enough. The problem wasn’t being fixed, just masked, and it was costing us a fortune.”

The issues worsened in January and the family filed a complaint in March.

Caroline said: “I was constantly fighting off colds and the mould growth was really bad. It ruined furniture and flooring and our bed was wet. LiveWest wasn’t taking the problem seriously.”

The family was given an industrial-sized dehumidifier, but “within weeks we almost had a fire,” said Caroline. “The plug was smoking and had melted itself to the socket.”

After further checks, cavity wall insulation was found to be sodden and was scheduled to be removed by the end of May.

Caroline said: “Months passed and still nothing. I was given excuse after excuse.

“Finally, on October 22, they started to remove the wet insulation and we discovered more mould and damaged goods as there was a hole in my sons’ bedroom wall behind the radiator that we hadn’t been aware of. This caused lots of the insulation to blow through, covering my sons’ room in fibres.”

The problems have gone on for nearly two years.

Caroline said: “Christmas is two weeks away and my living room is full of bedroom furniture and there’s no place for a Christmas tree. We have four young children – Leah, 10, Issabelle, eight, Joshua and Kaiden. Still nothing’s been resolved.”

LiveWest, which describes itself as the largest provider of affordable homes in the south west, responded: “We are aware of the issues and are working hard to resolve them for our customers.

“Earlier in the year, our regional building surveyors decided to replace the roof and upgrade the gutters. The cavity wall insulation had become wet, requiring its removal.

“This has been undertaken and dehumidifiers have been placed in the property. Our customers confirmed their desire to move, and after finding a three-bedroom home for them, they decided the location was unsuitable.

“We’re sorry for the disruption and will continue to explore all avenues for an alternative property. In the meantime, we’ve arranged for further remedial work to be completed in their current home before Christmas.”

Caroline said: “We were told they were moving to Kingsbridge. The children are at school in Totnes and my work’s here, as well as my family, who support us by picking the children up from school when we’re at work. But we were willing to sacrifice this, so we started packing, only to be told the house wasn’t suitable as it was on the outskirts of Kingsbridge and has no local bus route.

“LiveWest then offered us a holiday home, but then said they can’t find us one. They said works would start at the latest on December 10, but as suspected, nobody’s bothered to do anything.”

Chris said: “Illness has been an ongoing problem since we moved in here, particularly for Caroline and Kaiden.”

Caroline added: “No family should have to go through this. It’s just not fair. We’ve been paying full rent throughout this time.”