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2 February 2023
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Councils create action plans to tackle damp and mould

Councils across London are setting up taskforces, hiring new staff and expediting stock condition surveys as they seek to combat damp and mould in their social housing properties.

Barnet and Tower Hamlets councils are among those to have published documents explaining their approaches or plans, which include potentially bringing forward and extending a stock condition survey and training staff on damp and mould.

In November, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) wrote to all social landlords requesting they provide assurance that they have a “clear understanding and strong grip on damp and mould issues in their homes” and are addressing risks to tenants.

Councils and housing associations with more than 1,000 homes were asked to provide evidence of their approach to dealing with damp and mould. They had until 19 December to respond.

The regulator’s initial findings from the responses show:

  • Most social landlords understand the extent of damp and mould in their tenants’ homes and take action to tackle it, but could strengthen their approach.
  • The majority of people living in social housing have homes that are free from damp and mould.
  • Some landlords submitted poor quality responses that lacked the detail needed for RSH to have confidence about their approach.
  • While the picture is incomplete, RSH’s best estimate is that less than 0.2% of social homes have the most serious damp and mould problems, 1-2% have serious damp and mould problems, and a further 3-4% have notable damp and mould.

The regulator will now follow up directly with landlords who submitted poor quality responses and those reporting high numbers of cases of damp and mould. RSH will take regulatory action where needed. Read report of initial findings.

The request followed the inquest into the death of Awaab Ishak, the two-year-old who died as a result of prolonged exposure to mould in Rochdale.

His family had repeatedly complained to their landlord Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) about the state of the property.

Housing secretary Michael Gove also wrote to social landlords urging them to “absorb the lessons” from the coroner’s report following the inquest into Awaab’s death and to treat damp and mould more seriously.

Gladys Xavier, ADPH London Lead for Housing and Health and Director of Public Health at Redbridge Council said:

“Councils across London are working at speed with partners to identify and review the full scope of the problem with damp and mould in housing stock.

“The evidence is there to show there is a significant health risk for people who have existing long term conditions such as asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (reaction to allergens), when exposed to damp and mould over an extended period of time.

“While local authority housing teams have been conducting a rapid and comprehensive review of risk across their council-owned housing stock, an expert group has been developing a toolkit for health and social care practitioners visiting homes.

“Where there is evidence of damp and mould, this toolkit will support practitioners to assess the health risk to the residents and enable effective access to pathways for provision of appropriate healthcare, and resolution for the environmental risk. This toolkit is now in its final stages of development.”


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