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Family forced out of Sharjah home after fungus invasion

Egyptian pharmacist living in hotel with wife and children after mould destroys their TV, washing machine, furniture and all their clothes

  • By Mazhar Farooqui, Deputy Editor
  • Published: 21:45 September 12, 2012

  • Image Credit: Supplied Photos
  • Dr Nasser returned from a one-month vacation to find disgusting black mould all over the ceiling, walls, electronics, furniture and mattresses in his apartment.
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SHARJAH A potentially dangerous form of fungus has forced an Egyptian family out of their home in Sharjah.

Dr Nasser, 42, has been living in a Dh400-per-night hotel with his wife and three daughters since September 4, the day he returned from holiday to discover the havoc wreaked by the mould in his two-bedroom Al Majaz apartment.

“Everything is destroyed. My 40-inch LCD TV, my expensive sofa, our bedroom sets, washing machine and all our clothes. I am still counting my losses,” said Dr Nasser.

“I was looking forward to relaxing after an exhausting one month vacation, but when I opened the apartment door I was shell shocked. Everything was covered in black mould. I am a pharmacist by profession and know the health risk mould exposure poses, especially to kids. I asked them to stay back while I stepped inside to inspect the extent of the damage. It was far worse than I had imagined. We immediately decided to move to a nearby hotel.”

The World Health Organisation recently published a report on toxic mould, known as mycotoxins, that notes significant health issues. It warned that “exposure to mycotoxins can produce both acute and chronic toxicities ranging from death to deleterious effects on the central nervous, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.”

“I can’t take that risk. The real estate management are getting the apartment cleaned, but I know it’s easier said than done. I don’t want to live there any anymore. I have asked them to relocate us in another flat in the same building but they are not willing to listen or reason. “The mould was caused because they rushed a paint job. They applied another coat of paint without allowing the first coat to dry. The moisture left in the walls and ceilings created the perfect environment for fungus to grow and form colonies,” said Dr Nasser, who’s threatening to file a case against the real estate company for damages.

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“Several thousand dirhams worth of furniture and electronic goods have been damaged. We have been living in a hotel for 10 days and because there is no kitchen, we have to order food from outside. All this costs money.”

The real estate firm however refused to compensate the losses. “According to our rent contract, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to look after their apartments. We are getting the apartment cleaned but we cannot pay for the tenant’s hotel bills or compensate for his loss,” said a manager.

The 20-storey building was built just four years back.

— Name changed to protect identity



Mould is an organism, a fungus that thrives in warm, humid conditions. Once established in a building, it spreads quickly, attacking furniture, ceiling and carpets. The washing machine is its favourite target. Mould creates tiny spores to reproduce just as plants produce seeds. Once air-borne, it is very difficult to filter out. Some mould can even produce toxins.

Comments (11)

Your comments
  1. Added 14:14 September 13, 2012

    I think it is an ventilation problem. Outside air has some how got into the flat either through open windows or through extract vents. And when humid air gets in touch with cool walls/ceilings then condensation happens. Unattended condensation will lead to fungus growth.A technical consultant has to make a study to find out what caused it and to prevent it from happening again.

    george, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:33 September 13, 2012

    Paint job is easy but it requires right application. It is the responsibility of the maintenance people. Real estates companies use unqualified people for the job! May we know the REAL ESTATE company's name?

    reggie, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:35 September 13, 2012

    i have seen so many building apartments with fungus. I have cautioned my friends about it. Do you think real estate people care? No they don't give a damn. They act like they are doing you a favor. The municipality should take this matter seriously and check the cause of this fungus and penalize the real estate company for their negligence in maintaining the building properly.

    karim, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:23 September 13, 2012

    We had the same issue a week before - we lost our furniture and everything inside the apartment. The support we received from the building management was zilch. I can help the Egyptian doctor by sending the cleaning company people who cleaned our apartment. They are professionals in treating moulds. Good luck

    Hussein, Dubai, Egypt

  5. Added 09:47 September 13, 2012

    Many in the UAE are in the habit of switching off the (central) ACs while on their summer vacation to reduce their DEWA bills ...That's not right either...

    Fiona G, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 09:19 September 13, 2012

    That is terrible! The real estate company should compensate him for all the losses. How can you expect the tenant to know that the real estate company applied another paint coat without allowing the first coat to dry!!! I think tenants should demand a better rent contract that can protect them from such heavy losses! This is happening very frequent especially in JLT district.

    Linda, Duabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 09:01 September 13, 2012

    Mould can also thrive in Air Conditioning systems and cause symptoms like flue, sneezing fatigue and sickness among people. I was experiening these problem at home and did everything , but in vain, when suddenly I went through an article online which helped resolve my problem. You need to do anti-bacterial cleaning of your air conditioning system to prevent such occurences, but unfortunately only one company called Green is offering this service. Other companies dont have any idea about it.

    Ramzan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 08:44 September 13, 2012

    This could also be caused when you leave your apartments Central AC system switched OFF when you go on vacation. From the photo, it is evident that the apartment has Central AC.

    raafi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 07:51 September 13, 2012

    A/c should be ON always. When AC off for long time, this can happen. So be careful when you going on vaccation. Don't put off your AC.

    Mohamed Ashraf C.H, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 07:50 September 13, 2012

    Poor Building maintenance is becoming a growing menace. Most of the old buildings are not maintained at all- the maintenance companies are very slack about doing the needed repair in timely manner. The maintenance staff lacks the necessary skills and are lazy too. The rents are exorbitant, but the maintenance is next to nil! There is the growing menace of cockroaches, bed bugs, rats and now toxic mould! What next?! Value is only in the money collected for rent! but absolutely nil as far as tenant safety or comfort goes!

    Feby Imthias, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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