Family of eight stuck in two-bed home described as ‘a shed’

Date published: 19 March 2024

A family of eight has been stuck in a two-bed home that has been blighted with problems for months.

Matthew Brooks and his partner Paige Deloughrey live in social housing with their six children and had their lives turned upside down recently when they had to move out due to the damp and mould problems they have faced. Although the mould has now been treated, the family says there are still traces of the dampness that caused it previously, and they want out.

The basic problem they have is that the home is not equipped to deal with eight people living there, and to describe it as cramped would not go far enough.

Things came to a head at the end of January when the family spotted more issues of damp and mould cropping up which they reported to their landlord. 

After a surveyor came round to assess the situation, just over a month later Matthew and his family were put up in temporary accommodation by landlord Rochdale Boroughwide Housing – causing chaos for the family yet again.

Matthew credited RBH with taking swift action in response to their situation, but believes the work done previously has led to ongoing problems that are literally just being painted over. 

The two parents were left in fear for their childrens’ safety when their seven-month-old baby Ellen-Rose was hospitalised with breathing problems for the seventh time in her short life recently. Each hospital admission has been linked to breathing problems related to their house conditions. 

A letter from a health visitor at Northern Care Alliance backs up his point by stating her respiratory problems are “felt to be a result of the home conditions which is having a negative impact on Ellen’s health”.

The letter, sent to the Housing Solutions team at Rochdale Council, went on to say: “Given the baby’s symptoms, their current living arrangements are a risk to the physical health of the children and the adults residing there.”


Bunk beds in the children's bedroom of the Mentmore Road home, Rochdale
Bunk beds in the children's bedroom


The 30-year-old father has said that the children, all under the age of 10, felt the first move to temporary accommodation was ‘like going on holiday’ and was exciting, but this latest time had them filled with dread. He and Paige have seen their mental health suffer and have found the whole process stressful and a struggle.

“They have done lots of work but it’s temporary,” the Mentmore Road resident said. “We were in the travel lodge for two weeks, and I have to admit they did look after us.

“The air is heavy in the home (due to the high humidity caused by damp). We felt we couldn’t breathe the air around us.

“I don’t feel safe in my own home. The house is on its back, it’s like a shed. There are works, and works, and more works being done.

“They could put us in a five-bed mansion but that wouldn’t take away what they’ve done to us – it’s about my baby’s health at the end of the day. This time, on this hospital trip, I was scared (we could lose her).”

The home is overcrowded, they have wardrobes and bunk beds blocking out windows and children and babies crammed into rooms. The eldest, Adam is nine and shares his room with John, 8, Aoife, 6, Talliah, 5 with the babies Tom, 2, and Ellen-Rose in cots with Paige and Matthew.

They are desperate to get a bigger home, but the waiting list is very long. According to RBH, 550 families are registered with the council for a four-bedroom home – which suggests this family could be waiting a while before they move into a new home which is the right size for them.


Matthew Brooks, 30, and his partner Paige Deloughrey, 29
Matthew Brooks, 30, and his partner Paige Deloughrey, 29


Siobhan McCoy, RBH Director of Property Services, said: “In late January we received a report of damp and mould in a customer’s home in the Firgrove area. We arranged for a temporary move while we inspected, treated, and carried out works to the home. 

“We promptly carried out a full treatment, plus additional prevention measures including renewing the extractor fans and installing a new Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system. In addition, we have conducted a full and thorough inspection of the works completed. 

“The home is dry and all works have been carried out to a good standard.

“We know that our customer needs to move into a larger home, but unfortunately in the current year, only 14 four-bedroom properties have become available to let by all the social housing providers in the Borough combined. 

“There are almost 550 families registered with Rochdale Council who have the need for a four-bedroom home. There is a severe shortage of large family homes across Rochdale Borough and we recognise the impact that this has on those families who live in overcrowded homes. 

“This can only be tackled by increasing the supply of social housing within the borough, and the number of large family homes in particular.”

George Lythgoe, Local Democracy Reporter

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