A couple who claim to have struggled with “extreme mold and humidity” for five months in their three-bed in Norwich say they are “extremely relieved” to have obtained compensation from their former owner.
Magdalena Meza Mitcher and Ben Skelton, both 23, turned to community union ACORN for help after they said attempts to get rent reimbursed – and coverage for personal items damaged by mold – fell in deaf ear.
A few weeks after moving into Aylsham Road’s mid-terrace in September 2020, they noticed damp, black mold growing on the walls. Due to a price dispute between the landlord and her rental agent Pymm & Co, work to resolve the issue was only carried out in January – but even then tenants called “inadequate quick fixes “.
On May 21, their former owner Ruth Friedman paid the couple the £ 980 they had been asking for since February when they moved out. Pymm & Co, meanwhile, said they have issued a written apology to tenants for the landlord’s inaction.
Ms Friedman said she did not pay because she agreed with the tenants’ claim, but because of ACORN’s “inappropriate” tactics and the way they attacked her work life on Facebook , adding that she had already granted tenants a rent reduction of 20pc for December and January.
She said: “I understood that I was not just in conflict with my former tenants, but a well organized national network with a vision to fundamentally change the way property is structured.
“As I am only one owner, renting out my old accommodation in Norwich while living abroad, I didn’t want to get drawn into their larger campaign.
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“I have decided to pay the entire claim and have heard from both ACORN and the former tenants that the matter is now closed.”
However, Ms Meza Mitcher and Ben Skelton said: “The union, through its social media campaign against Ruth and its picket line against Pymm & Co, has enabled us to secure compensation for the extreme humidity and mold that we endured for months.
“It’s a huge relief to have the money and we’re happy it’s finally over.”
An ACORN spokesperson echoed, “We were able to use our collective strength to earn what Magdalena and Ben deserved. The system doesn’t work in our favor, but when we work together as a community, we get too big to be ignored.