'No-one should be expected to live like this' - special report on social housing in East Lindsey

Pepper Pig rests in the corner of a windowsill surrounded by black mould.

Pepper Pig had to be thrown out after being discovered behind a curtain on a windowsill covered in black mould in the property in Horncastle .

It's straight into the bin for him - and the young mum hopes her child won't notice that her precious toy has gone missing.

Throwing things away has been part of the endless cycle that has faced 24-year-old Hollie Hobson since damp gripped her rented home in Tennyson Gardens, Horncastle.

She longs for a move to Skegness for more family support and to be closer to work opportunities.

The sofa at the property in Horncastle had to be thrown out and replaced.

But in the meantime she faces a daily struggle to keep her home clean and safe for her children, aged three and one.

Both suffer chest issues - with her youngest being referred to Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham for treatment.

Hollie is sure the sickness is related to the damp conditions they have been living in - and her mum, Grandma Helen, says it is "unacceptable" they should be expected to live like this.

They are both currently both social housing tenants with Platform Housing in Horncastle. Hollie pays £400 a month for her bungalow which she says is designed for elderly or disabled people. Helen says she is lucky because she has a Platform Housing newbuild, for which she pays £560 a month.

Signs of damp on the walls in Horncastle.

Helen contacted Lincolnshire World after her daughter was first offered a move to Skegness.

However, hope turned to despair when the property Hollie was shown had further signs of damp, with the outside overgrown and fence broken.

Helen appealed to Lincolnshire World to raise awareness of her daughter's plight, describing the property as "not fit for a dog to live in".

Since Lincolnshire World contacted Platform Housing, we have been told Helen has been offered an alternative property in Skegness and the housing association has agreed to additional work to "ensure the property is of a high lettable standard".

Damp on the walls in Horncastle.

However, Helen says too many people are left living in unsuitable living conditions and has vowed to help others get the support they need.

"My daughter lives with her two children in an old people's property in Horncastle," she said.

"It's damp and both children have chest conditions with the baby being treated at Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.

"I believe it is because of the damp and my daughter has been asking to move for two years now.

More signs of damp at the first property offered in Skegness.

"Before she went on maternity leave her work was in Skegness and that is where her boyfriend is and that is why she asked to move there.

"But the property she was offered was just not fit to live in."

Pictures she provided of the property showed areas of mould and an overgrown garden.

"No-one should be expected to live like this. Having a home that is clean and dry with a working heating system and water is an essential human right," said Helen.

"It shouldn't matter that we are living in social housing.

"We pay rent and it isn't as cheap as people think. It shouldn't matter.

The overgrown garden at the first property offered in Skegness.

"When there are issues with properties they should be fixed. We shouldn't have to fight for it.

"I am an Avon lady and I see how people live. Hollie is not the only one living like this and our experience has made me passionate about helping others to have the guts to make their voices heard.

"If they are living in unsuitable they shouldn't be afraid to fight for better living conditions."

Platform Housing has now apologised to Hollie and paid her £200 compensation, which has been paid into her rent account.

Director of New Customers & Specialist Housing at Platform Housing Group, Sarah Sutton, told us that their "Customer has now accepted a property that suits the needs of her family".

She said: “Following concerns raised about the condition of this property, we have spoken with the Customer and arranged for an inspection to the property and agreed additional works to ensure the property is of a high lettable standard.

"We are pleased that our Customer has now accepted a property that suits the needs of her family.”

Hollie has yet to inspect the second home in Skegness offered to her by Platform Housing but is hopeful after the reassurances she has been given that it is the solution she has been looking for.

"My son has been stuck in hospital all of last year then a few times this year - he is poorly for two weeks every month without fail - so I'm hoping it changes once I get moved," she said.

"I'm hoping the sea air will help him - lots of lovely days out for them both once I move.

"People need to power up and start to talk about it because we should not have to live like it."

The state of rental properties nationwide has been featured in a special report by ITV. An investigation revealed 10 million people in the UK live in homes that do not meet suitable standards.

Government statistics show that the annual cost to the NHS each year is £1.4billion.

One in five winter deaths are attributed to damp and cold housing.

Health Minister Matt Hancock told the ITV: "We have seen some horrific examples in some parts of the country and housing is having a clear impact on people's health.

"What I want to do through the whole of the health system is focus on what causes ill health - not just picking up the pieces afterwards - and housing is at the centre of that approach."

Lincolnshire World also spoke to Coun William Gray, who was also contacted by Grandma Helen and is the East Lindsey District Council Portfolio Holder for Better Aging, Housing and Community.

"When I was sent the pictures of the first property that had been offered in Skegness I spoke to the housing department and said 'surely this is not acceptable'," said Coun Gray.

"There is a complaints procedure which was carried out and since then Platform Housing has accepted the property was not acceptable, have apologised and a suitable solution has been found."

East Lindsey District Council is currently working to raise standards for tenants in the area.

The authority is currently delivering Green Homes Grants to residents across the district. These will improve the energy efficiency of eligible properties through measures such as external wall insulation, cavity wall insulation, floor and loft insulation.

Raising the standards of the fabric of buildings will help reduce fuel poverty by lowering running costs. The scheme is open to homeowners and landlords.

Those living in rented properties who believe they could benefit from a grant may wish to speak to their landlord directly, or get in touch with us and we can approach them on tenants’ behalf if the eligibility criteria is met. For more details visit https://www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/greenhomesgrant or call 01507 613573.

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It was agreed the first property offered in Skegness was not fit to move into.