We shortlisted a small flat located in East Sheen, on the top floor with stunning views of the London Eye and the Shard. We were looking forward to living in the vicinity of the beautiful Richmond Park. We viewed the flat on a sunny afternoon and fell in love with the place. We researched on the area, neighbouring schools, commuting options, parking scene, etc.; basically whatever we could find out. The flat was being painted when we went in. We were happy that we would be living in a clean home with a fresh feeling. Little did we know that actually black mould was being covered up!

When we went to take the possession of the flat, we realized that carpets were only vacuumed over and not changed as promised by agents. My wife was concerned as they were quite old carpets. In a few days’ time, rest of the issues surfaced. One morning when I took my clothes out of the wardrobe, they were wet! The only wardrobe in the flat was built on an external wall which had severe condensation leading to raising black mould! On checking other areas of the flat there were similar issues in the other rooms as well. Despite all the precautions we took like leaving windows open (pretty difficult in winter) and not airing clothes inside the flat, the mould was uncontrollable . We were constantly paying cleaners to treat the mould . My allergies worsened and we approached the agent and the land lady as we felt cheated into this property! What we got was a de-humidifier and plastic clothes covers to hang our clothes in.

We were forced to carry on as there was a 12 month break clause with 2 months’ notice period that we were tied into. We were hopeful that it would get better in a few months’ time.

In summer the mould was gone, but we realized that flat also had moth infestation as carpet moths emerged from the wood under carpet during warm weather. At peak, there were so many of them flying around the flat and hiding in the clothes, drawers and my daughter’s toys. My five year daughter who studies at Vineyard Primary School Richmond, would burst into screams as she was too scared of so many moths flying over.

We could not leave the property before a year and council generally does not help unless there is a hole in the wall. The problems with property impacted our family life as we spent evenings cleaning mould or spreading moth sprays. My wife said why did I not research about the property before renting? However there was nothing available online where we can read about rental experiences of previous tenants in the property. We can find hundreds of reviews about every small thing we buy, but nothing about the flat we had to spend more than half of our income as rent.

This led to us to develop Asktenants.co.uk, where tenants can review their rental property and complete a short quality of rental property survey. Their survey and review helps other tenants looking to rent that property. Website was launched and marketed mainly in Richmond but now has over 3,000 reviews across the UK with new reviews being added every day. Asktenants.co.uk is free to use for everyone. The site will benefit all future tenants and keep rogue landlords in check. Website also allows landlords to respond to tenant’s reviews so that we hear both sides of the story.