Man fights losing battle as mould takes over his house

Peter Bourke.
Peter Bourke.

PETER Bourke's nightmare has continued for almost four years - now finally the State Government is taking action.

Every six months Mr Bourke has to put on gloves and the latest cleaner to get rid of an invasion of mould that is threatening to take over his public housing accommodation.

It isn't just spots of mould here and there - it covers the ceiling in the living room, the kitchen and the bedroom, and creeps down the walls and the doors.

Every few feet there's a round patch of semi-clean wall, which Mr Bourke has cleaned to show off what it should look like, but he's given up on the fight against the intruder.

The 59-year-old hasn't, however, given up on the fight against the Department of Housing to listen to his concerns, which began when he moved into the house four years ago.

He said the house was clean when he moved in, but after several months the mould began growing in the main bedroom and it had reached an uncontrollable stage.

"They said I never aired the place out, but the screen windows and doors are open all the time," he said.

"I've spent X amount of money on cleaners - detergents, eucalyptus oils, methylated spirits, and sugar soap and yet they're still telling me I'm not looking after it."

Mr Bourke said nothing was done for the first two years because he had only made verbal complaints and didn't understand the process, but once he began putting his complaints in writing it had taken another two years for the department to take notice of his plight.

The department agreed to take action following mediation with Mr Bourke in January, but said it would be June before works could begin to fix the roof, which is suspected to be the cause of the mould problems.

But Mr Bourke said it wasn't good enough and he was "totally disillusioned" with the public housing system.

"Water has been getting in because of the roof, but they still haven't admitted that they're liable," he said.

The Department of Housing said the property inspection in January confirmed there was no excessive mould, and only a small amount in one bedroom and the kitchen.

The Department of Housing Gladstone head manager and area manager visited last Friday, and on Tuesday informed Mr Bourke that roofing material would arrive on Wednesday, with work to begin straight away.

"They told me Friday they could see it wasn't neglect and that it is a problem," Mr Bourke said.

"It's partly what I want, but they really didn't acknowledge it's due to water under the house. If I hadn't have come to you (The Observer) I'd still be waiting."

The department's official response said the roof would be replaced owing to age and potential for ongoing maintenance costs.



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