Mouldy home made this family sick and forced them to throw out almost everything they owned

The discovery of mould inside Allison Deneau's Essex rental home forced her family to throw out nearly everything they owned and move 10 hours up north.

Allison Deneau is waiting for a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing to try and recoup some losses

Allison Deneau and her family lost most of their possessions after mould was discovered in their Essex rental home. (Allison Deneau)

The discovery of mould inside Allison Deneau's Essex rental home forced her family to throw out nearly everything they owned and move 10 hours away.

Deneau, her husband and three young kids, are trying to recoup some of what they lost through the Landlord and Tenant Board. The family has been waiting for a hearing, but almost a year has passed and they're still not sure whether they'll receive any compensation.

"I'm to the point where I'm very skeptical," she said. "I feel like the system is made for protecting the landlords."

Roughly $40,000 in appliances, furniture, clothing and other items were thrown out, Deneau estimates.

Mould was found on the wall inside of Allison Deneau's infant child's closet. (Allison Deneau)

"We were left with nothing," she said. "It's very stressful. It's hard to explain to the kids why things had to go."

Her family moved into a home on Queen Court, run by Essex Non-Profit Homes Inc., in late 2015.

Landlord won't comment

The agency did not want to comment publicly about Deneau's case, as it still must be heard by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Deneau said she first noticed water in her basement in February, 2016. She reported it and was told an expert would examine her home in May.

Around that time, she had given birth to her third child. When her husband came home, he found a "huge mess" in the finished basement with water and mud "everywhere."

Problem never resolved

An investigation paid for by the landlord revealed the home separated from its foundation, creating cracks and allowing water to seep into the basement, according to Deneau.

Deneau said she and her children became sick after living in a mould-filled home. (Allison Deneau)

A mould remediation company was also called in, but the problems were never fully fixed, she added.

Mould makes family sick

In April of last year, Deneau said the mould became a health concern. She developed allergies and had trouble breathing. Her son often got hives and her infant was constantly congested and suffered random nose bleeds — the family decided it was time to move.

Even before the flooding and mould, Deneau has been living with lupus, a chronic disease. 

"It's overwhelming," she said. "It's normal to feel angry, to feel upset, to feel hurt, to feel wronged."

Now Deneau is living in a family home in Sault Ste. Marie until she and her husband can get back on their feet.

Trying to get compensation

They hope a settlement from the Landlord and Tenant Board will help cover the costs of some of the damaged items, as well as rent abatement. The family has also started a GoFundMe page.

Deneau said her family was forced to throw away most of what they owned after it was damaged by mould. (Allison Deneau)

Due to some systemic delays and confusion over whether or not Deneau could call into a hearing using Skype, the family won't have their day before the board until late-July.

About the Author

Jason Viau

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca